GP Expert Witness…What’s involved?
“Medico-legal work fits very well within a portfolio career.
It adds diversity to your work and improves your clinical practice as you gain a much deeper knowledge of subject matters.”
Dr Adrian Rees
The expert opinion of experienced GPs is sought after in clinical negligence investigations. It’s an intellectually stimulating career choice, is well paid, and can be built up alongside a clinical practice.
…I think it is incredibly fascinating…
Dr Jonathan Moore
It does, however, require a serious time commitment, often determined by Court timetables. You must have an eye for detail and the ability to communicate clearly in writing as well when speaking.
We asked current experts for their advice to GPs considering this career choice.
You need some time on the clock and experience before starting. I started in earnest 8 years after starting as a full time partner, though I had done my first case after 6 years.
I think you need to feel reasonably confident that you could go up against a more established GP in an experts’ meeting and hold your own. You must also be prepared to go to Court.
Consider whether being cross examined in the witness box for 2.5 hours is something that they are willing to put themselves through!
You need to have been qualified as a GP for at least 10 years and be a member of the Royal College of GPs (MRCGP). There is no minimum requirement but I think this gives a good basis for expert work.
There aren’t any other specific requirements but it is wise to go on a course to understand the law and report writing.
Inspire MediLaw provide training and guidance to doctors from the very outset of their medico-legal journey. It’s essential that a medical expert fully understands their duty to the Court; the legal tests involved in a clinical negligence investigation; and what’s involved in giving an expert opinion – both in writing and under cross examination.
If you don’t have good experts you have a poor level of justice
His Honour Judge Charles Harris QC
addressing delegates at the Inspire MediLaw Summer Conference 2019
The best way to develop your medico-legal expertise is by learning from experienced medical experts and lawyers, and engaging in discussion with your peers.
Our two day Expert Witness Training Course is designed and refined by medico-legal experts with an existing clinical negligence practice. It’s attended by new and established experts from a whole range of clinical disciplines, a great forum for meeting and sharing experiences with others. You’ll learn key skills, talk about tips and pitfalls, and network over refreshments and meal times. And this is only the beginning!
On successful completion of the course we’ll support your medico-legal practice. We can help you finalise your medico-legal CV; provide training on medico-legal practice management; offer opportunities to attend or speak at medico-legal conferences and events to help you raise your profile; and send your updates on case law and judicial comment on expert evidence.
Read about two of our GP experts below, take a look at the profiles of experts on our Medical Panel, and get in touch with us for a chat if you’d like to find out more.
Inspire MediLaw talks to two experienced GP Expert Witnesses…
Dr Jonathan Moore
I discovered being an expert witness in my first year as a medical student! One of my colleagues, who is now a female consultant surgeon, had done a degree in medical law on her journey to medical school.
As a junior medical student I read her amazing dissertation on “Clinical Negligence in Obstetrics” and I was totally blown away. I was sure I had chose the wrong career and wanted to retrain as a barrister then and there! However, she told me that I should continue as a doctor and develop my career into an expert witness practice as “then you get the very best of both worlds”!!
It turns out she was absolutely right and it changed my life. So, uniquely, I underwent my entire medical training knowing that this is what I wanted to do, and I started my LLM (Master of Laws) just a month after qualifying as a GP.
I have found it even more rewarding than I could have expected, especially when a case settles in the way you feel it rightfully should, through the power of your own evidence. That and reading a Court judgment in your favour…
Dr Adrian Rees
I developed an interest in medico-legal work during my trainee years in hospitals where I was seeing how complaints and medico-legal work was handled. I undertook a Masters in Ethics in Law to improve my knowledge and started undertaking medico-legal work once I had been in practice as a GP for 10 years.
I find the work mentally stimulating and challenging. It is interesting working with other professionals outside of medicine and using my knowledge to translate the mystery of medicine to non-medics.
I find that this role has developed my communication, increased my knowledge of medicine and enabled me to better understand the previous mystery that was The Law!