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In an attempt to encourage positive behaviours in clinical negligence litigation, NHS Resolution, the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers and patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents have all collaborated on the Covid-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol 2020.
The protocol will be in place until one of the parties gives notice to end it and the provisions are to be reviewed every 8 weeks. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused some difficulties throughout the process of clinical negligence cases including a shortage of experts as a result of some being called to the frontline, hospital complaints processes being suspended and internal investigations being delayed. Therefore, parties need to be able to rely on the protocol during these unprecedented times that have never been experienced before.
Some areas covered by the protocol include moratoriums on limitation until three months after the protocol ends, medical examinations taking place virtually where possible and encouraging co-operation in respect of interim payments or payments on account of costs. The protocol states Covid-19 should not be used as an excuse for avoidable delays however, NHS staff should not be required to do anything which will affect the frontline care. Paul Rumley, chairman of SCIL, said the moratorium should prove “particularly useful”, by saving unnecessary work and costs in issuing cases which were “simply not ready to proceed during this time”.
This new innovative step shows the willingness of all parties to work co-operatively. It is designed to create a compromise which reassures the Claimants of clinical negligence cases whilst acknowledging the immense pressure the NHS has and is under. The protocol will provide consistency and reliability in what is still seen as an uncertain time.
August 26, 2020