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Specialist Courts Urged

The Medical Protection Society has called for the creation of specialist courts with strict timetables, and judges who have an expertise in clinical negligence in a bid to reduce delays in resolving clinical negligence claims.

This is part of detailed recommendations provided by MPS that it says aim to resolve clinical disputes in a fair and timely manner to a new Expert Group set up by the Government.

The Expert Group is reviewing alternative mechanisms and court processes for resolving clinical negligence claims with the plan to report its findings within six months. This, says the MPS is in the interests of all parties in a case.

In making its recommendations, MPS has focused on each stage of the claim process – from pre-litigation all the way through to the conclusion of trial.

The submission to the Expert Group also explores some of the complex arguments surrounding ‘no-fault’ compensation models.
Hilary Steele, Claims Lead for Republic of Ireland at MPS, said: “MPS welcomes this review and the Government’s commitment to improving the current system for the management of clinical negligence claims. Our in-depth knowledge and experience of dealing with claims locally and worldwide provides us with unique insight into best practice when resolving clinical disputes.

“There are significant delays in resolving claims through the current court system, impacting both patients and clinicians. These delays mean that patients can wait many years to achieve closure. Many may suffer financial hardship while they wait for compensation. Legal and procedural reform may also save public money, which would be better spent on patient care.

“MPS believes that the creation of specialist courts could lead to useful precedents for clinical negligence practitioners and bring consistency in approach, particularly regarding awards of compensation. MPS has also called on the Government to finalise a compulsory pre-action protocol as this will lead to many more claims being resolved without court proceedings.

“We are also keen to highlight our expertise working in jurisdictions with no-fault compensation schemes. Various models exist to address adverse healthcare incidents and no two are the same. As MPS supports healthcare professionals around the world, we are keen to work with the Government to share our knowledge and experience on both the merits and shortcomings of these schemes.”