Reconfiguring Health Services
As Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) move to reconfigure services and trim budgets, it is relatively easy to fall foul of the legislation enshrined in Section 14Z2 (2) of the NHS Act 2006, as…
Published 1 December 2015
If a healthcare professional or provider has provided care or treatment which may have contributed to a patient's death, they are likely to be drawn into an Inquest. Involvement in an Inquest can be time consuming for healthcare providers and can impact resources, especially if a large number of staff are called to give evidence.
Families and their lawyers continue to try to use Inquests as a means to gather evidence for a civil claim, despite the fact that the issue of liability is outside the remit of the Coroner. In addition, there is also the potential that an inquest will attract publicity and reputational damage for an insured especially if a Coroner is critical of the treatment provided or their response to any lessons learned after the event.
Expert legal advice can guide healthcare providers and professionals through the coronial process, with a view to minimising any findings made at the Inquest, and seeking to avoid exposure to a subsequent civil claim – which is of particular importance to med-mal Insurers too.
To date, regulatory action by the CQC has not been particularly aligned with the Inquest process.
However, the CQC and the Coroner's Society of England and Wales have now approved a "Memorandum of Understanding", which points to the potential for greater co-ordination in the future. The Memorandum addresses:
Of particular importance is paragraph 30 of the Memorandum, which provides that Coroners agree "to notify CQC as soon as is reasonably practicable of any inquest where concerns exist about the care or treatment received by the deceased". In effect – this will amount to a double-check mechanism for the notification of relevant deaths to the regulator.
We see that the Memorandum will have two particular key effects – which will impact on healthcare providers and their med-mal Insurers:
As a result, healthcare providers and their Insurers will need to ensure that if they are involved in an inquest their response is carefully managed not only to minimise exposure to a civil claim but also regulatory action.