BTO’s clinical defence team has represented health care professionals at a number of high profile public inquiries which have taken place in Scotland and in other parts of the UK.
Public Inquiries are investigations, established by government Ministers, into significant incidents or series of events which have caused public concern, as it is in the public interest that such incidents or series of events are avoided wherever possible. The purpose of the Inquiry is to establish the facts behind the incident, to identify why it occurred and to produce recommendations for the future, with the aim of preventing further such incidences.
To fulfill this purpose the scope of a Public Inquiry is usually very wide and will encompass the circumstances and consequences of the incident, the response to it, and the systems and governance arrangements that were in place when the significant incident occurred. The areas to be investigated within the Public Inquiry are recorded in the Inquiry’s “Terms of Reference” which defines the scope of the public inquiry. The team has extensive experience in considering the wide range of issues inevitably involved and is able to quickly assimilate large volumes of documentary and oral evidence to fully represent healthcare professionals involved in these Inquiries.
A person, or a group of persons, can be determined to be a core participant in the Inquiry. This occurs when their role or interest in the matters under investigation is significant or because they may become subject to criticism. The team has represented healthcare professionals as core participants in Public Inquiries including treating hospital clinicians and hospital managers with a role in clinical governance.
If healthcare professionals are in some way connected to the significant incident, they can also be asked to provide witness statements, produce documents or be cited to give oral evidence to a public inquiry. The team has assisted and represented health care professionals in each of these areas.
BTO’s clinical defence team has represented healthcare professionals in the Penrose Inquiry, investigating Hepatitis C and HIV acquired infection from NHS treatment with blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, the Vale of Leven Hospital Inquiry, investigating the occurrence of the bacterial infection C. difficile at the Hospital in 2007 and 2008, and the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia related deaths of children admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland in the 1990s and 2000s.