Clinical Negligence Team
Who We Are
The Clinical Negligence (CN) Team of the Directorate of Legal Services (DLS) is the sole provider of advice, representation and training to the Public Health and Social Care sector in Northern Ireland. The section is made up of a highly professional team of Solicitors and administrative staff who work with selected Barristers and experts to deliver a comprehensive, high quality and cost-effective legal service to our valued clients in relation to clinical negligence litigation and inquests.
What We Do
This team works closely with the Trusts’ Litigation partners, carrying out extensive investigations into allegations of negligence and loss relating to every area of clinical specialism. Examples of the types of cases dealt with include birth injury, misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis, surgery delays, surgical complications, failure to refer to appropriate specialist, failure to obtain informed consent. The team also negotiates significant reduction of savings in damages, Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) payments, Counsel and third-party costs. The section is also home to the specialised neurology team supporting Trusts with complex neurology cases. The team provides training to clients throughout the year. The team provides immediate as well as reflective learning with our Trust clients through engagement in client monthly meetings, submission of Outcome Reports at the resolution of each case together with quarterly Lessons Learned Reports to clients for continuous improvement of their practices as well as our own.
In the event that court proceedings are commenced, DLS deals with all matters which arise during the course of litigation, including:
- Drafting court pleadings
- Instructing counsel and experts
- Interlocutory hearings
- Consultations with witnesses and experts
- Attending reviews
- Negotiations, (where appropriate)
- Trials in the High Court and County Court.
- Robustly challenging third party costs including attendance at taxation hearings
Some examples of claims include,
- Birth Injury: cerebral palsy, brachial plexus
- Misdiagnosis/delay in diagnosis
- Failure to refer to appropriate specialist
- Delay in surgery/Surgical complications
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Treatment pursuant to Waiting List Initiatives
The CN team strive to keep clients up to date with any developments in the law relating to Clinical Negligence and provide comprehensive training in key areas such as consent, report writing, clinical negligence practice and procedure and capacity.
DLS works with the Northern Ireland Medical & Dental Training Agency and in conjunction with the GMC to provide up to date legal training across the Health Service to junior and senior Trust staff. Specialised training is also provided, on request, to departments within Trust hospitals such as Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Maternity Units and Intensive Care Units. Through workshops and bespoke training, DLS engages with Trust staff in a more informal setting to share knowledge and learning and discuss relevant legal developments in this complex area.
The CN team are all members of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Practitioners Group which offers a network to exchange information through lectures, meetings and events. The team is also represented on a number of influential groups, including the Queen’s Bench Liaison Committee chaired by the Senior Queen’s Bench Judge and the Clinical Negligence subcommittee.