My refections on attending Inspire MediLaw’s training by Mr Ken Woodward, Consultant Vascular Surgeon
I had undertaken a small number of medicolegal reports throughout my 20-year consultant career, and prepared a small number of joint expert statements, but had no medicolegal court experience. I wanted to obtain more formal training in this area, to benchmark my current practice against the expected standards and to get a better understanding of the expectations of an expert in the court situation.
The breadth of clinical and medicolegal experience among those of us attending the 2-day course made for interesting and informative exchanges during coffee breaks and meals. The relaxed setting and highly approachable team delivering the training made for an interactive learning experience that, as well as being comprehensive, was readily adaptable to meet the individual requirements of the attendees. Paul Sankey gave a very informative overview of the legal journey of a claim, and the solicitors expectations of an expert. I picked up a number of useful pointers that were going to enhance the quality of my medicolegal reports in the future, and it was only at this point that I became aware of where in the timeline of a claim the joint experts statement is prepared. I had no idea that I had been that close to appearing in court as an expert in previous cases!
It can often be very difficult to assess the benefits of training courses such as this one, but only 2 weeks later I had to attend a County Court, as the claimants expert in a case that I had “inherited” at a late stage in proceedings, following the retirement of the expert who had initially been instructed. I was able to approach this with a greater understanding and much less trepidation, than would have previously been the case. My recent training had given me a much clearer understanding of the process that I was witnessing, and I spent the day observing proceedings, as the claimants’ case was dissected by the defendants counsel and the judge. During this first day, the knowledge and understanding I had recently acquired from the training course enabled me to provide clear and appropriate advice to the claimants’ counsel regarding the medical issues in dispute, and the potential strengths and weaknesses in the medical evidence relevant to the case. Ultimately I was not required to take the stand, as the parties reached agreement before the second day in court commenced, but I felt confident that I could have taken the stand to present my arguments in a clear and rational manner, providing appropriate assistance to the Court – something that, in hindsight, I would probably not have been able to undertake to a particularly high standard, had I not recently had the benefit of the Inspire Medilaw training.
I was fortunate to be able to consolidate the knowledge and skills acquired at the training course in this manner, and strongly believe that the training has made me a better expert, equipping me with a better knowledge and understanding of my role in the process, that should enable me to produce reports that more accurately meet the requirements of the Court.