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Coroner's Inquest

Bill Wilson successfully represented a doctor who was designated a "Properly Interested Party" in an inquest in Norwich. He had previously successfully represented the doctor in both a police and GMC investigation.

Indecent Images no further action

Bill Wilson successfully represented a client investigated in relation to possession of indecent images. The matter was marked no further action.

Apologising to Patients: the Pitfalls for the Health Professional

29th June 2015 sees new guidance issued by the GMC about doctors apologising in person to patients where a mistake has been made. This follows on from the "duty of candour" which followed the recommendations of the Francis Report into the Mid Staffs scandal.. Paragraph 55 of Good Medical Practice provides

"55. You must be open and honest with patients if things go wrong. If a patient under your care has suffered harm or distress, you should:

a. put matters right (if that is possible) b. offer an apology c. explain fully and promptly what has happened and the likely short-term and long-term effects."

GMC Guidance in their case notes now sets out "If things go wrong with a patient's care doctors must be open and honest and prepared to apologise themselves to the patient (or their relatives) whether or not they were personally responsible for the incident. Guidance from the NHS Litigation Authority confirms that an apology is not an admission of liability - which is a concern that some doctors have about apologising. GMC guidance (in Good Medical Practice) states that an apology should be offered, but it is more important that the doctor explains fully and promptly what's happened, and what are likely to be the effects in both the short and long term. "

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Forensic Analysis of Notes bears fruit

John Williams from Bankside Law secured the dropping of all allegations against his client. This case centred around chiropractor’s notes and an electronic note recording system called 'Capable’. Our client denied all of the allegations she faced. We had not represented our client at the Investigating Committee stage but we were able to obtain a forensic analysis of notes to satisfy the GCC that notes recorded on the system were accurate and timely and that the case should not proceed. This meant that our client did not have to go through the stress and trauma of a contested hearing and the risk to her career if the case had gone  against her.
John Williams commented -  "This case was a good example of how important good note keeping is. My client had kept good notes but, due to an oversight, had not sent them all in at the Investigating Committee stage. When we were instructed and the GCC then had all the notes and were satisfied as to them being contemporaneous by virtue of the forensic evidence the GCC accepted the case against my client should not proceed. Lawyers often say "if it isn't written down it didn't happen". Whilst making full notes can be very time consuming, frustrating and can eat into time which could otherwise be spent healing patients it is nevertheless the best form of protection there is against civil negligence and professional disciplinary allegations."

Fitness to Practise for Medical Students Potential Impact on Qualification

Generally Fitness to Practise Proceedings only take place against those who are fully qualified as opposed to those aspiring to join one of the Health Professions. However a Medical School has the right to determine a student’s competency and fitness before actual qualification. It has the ultimate sanction to exclude the student from the Course irrespective of how far he/she may have progressed. This would have serious implications for the student and could arise as late as the final year of study, before qualification.  Medical students will be aware of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) guidance “Medical Students: Professional Values and Fitness to Practise” but may feel that this is purely guidance and does not directly impinge on their prospective career of becoming a Qualified Medical Doctor.  However Fitness to Practise is an on-going process to be assessed as the Student progresses through Medical School.

Medical Schools have two duties: (1) to train students to become competent Doctors, and; (2)  to protect the public. 

The obligation of protecting the public “trumps all other duties”. The needs of the Doctor although very important are secondary to the needs of their patient. Medical Schools have an obligation to continually assess a student’s fitness to practise and consider whether a student can be put forward for registration, even though the student has done their absolute best. Fitness to Practice therefore is not confined to “Post Qualification” but something all Health Professionals need to be aware of from the outset, long before formal qualification and can apply throughout all Health Professions. At Bankside Law, we have vast experience of representing Doctors before the General Medical Council in a wide-ranging degree of matters and Bill Wilson has also successfully represented Medical Students in Medical School Fitness to Practise Proceedings.