At the MedicAssistanceScheme, our experienced lawyers can advise and represent doctors in coroner inquests.
If a patient has died in violent circumstances, or of unnatural or unknown causes, or 24 hours after admission to a hospital or after surgery, then there may be an inquest. Inquests are legal procedures to enable a coroner to decide who died, when, where, how and in what circumstances.
It is common for a doctor to give evidence in a coroner inquest where they have been involved in the patient’s care. Giving evidence at an inquest can be straightforward. However, if a doctor is regarded in an inquest as being an ‘interested person’ they will have a right to their own legal representation.
There are many reasons why a doctor may need their own independent legal representation in an inquest, including:
• The NHS Trust will have their lawyers, but they will focus on protecting the Trust. There may be circumstances where there is a potential conflict of interest between the Trust and the individual doctor;
• The family of the deceased are likely to be legally represented and may be hostile towards the doctor. The doctor having their own legal representation will provide equality of arms;
• If a coroner’s inquest goes badly for a doctor, it can be damaging to a doctor’s reputation and may even lead to subsequent litigation;
• A coroner can refer a doctor to the GMC following an inquest if they consider that this may prevent a reoccurrence of an incident which caused the death;
• If a doctor is criticised in an official inquiry, which can include a coroner’s inquest, the doctor has a duty to self-report this to the GMC.
At the MedicAssistanceScheme our lawyers are experienced at representing doctors at coroner inquests and will ensure that you are prepared, that your case is presented in the best light possible and that your interests are protected in relation to the GMC.