A ‘new normal’ when dealing with medical negligence claims in a global pandemic.
20th November, 2020
Expert Information

Covid-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol 2020

Written by Assistant Litigation Executive, Nermeen Salahuddin

 

New guidelines and protocols have been put into effect to encourage ‘positive behaviour’ when dealing with clinical negligence claims during the global pandemic. These have been agreed upon by NHS Resolution (NHSR), the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL) and Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA).

Due to the current climate, several medical professionals who usually aid lawyers with expert reports have been called to the front lines, creating delays and a shortage of available authorities. The protocol acknowledges that for many hospitals their priorities are focused almost entirely on patient care and not complaints procedures or internal investigations.

A matter of principle

They state that ‘in both public and private healthcare sectors, many medical experts have been called to healthcare’s front line in the fight against Covid-19 and this has created a shortage of available experts from whom claimant and defendant lawyers can commission reports on liability and/or quantum.’

They go on to say that as a matter of principle they will not be approaching employees if it disrupts patient care. The protocol instead aims for more understanding and patience when seeking compensation.

The provisions within the protocol include:

  • Allowing reasonable extension times in relation to letters of response and defence
  • Allowing reasonable extension times in relation to compliance with court directions
  • Setting limitation moratorium following the end of the protocol for 3 months’ time
  • Service by email being the default position
  • Exchange of evidence being done by encrypted emails
  • Examinations by experts for condition and prognosis reports being done remotely
  • Any settlement meetings or mediations between the parties being done remotely
  • Encouragement of agreed interim payments in relation to damages and costs by BACS payment

The protocol is to be reviewed every eight weeks to keep up with the constantly changing situation and enable alteration to be made in an appropriate time frame.

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