Clinical Negligence Covid-19 Protocol

On 14th August, a new Protocol was agreed between NHS Resolution (NHSR), Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers (SCIL) for clinical negligence claims as a result of the impact of Covid-19.

What is the aim of and the reason for introducing the Clinical Negligence Covid-19 Protocol?

The aim of this new Protocol is to encourage positive behaviours and approaches from both sides during the pandemic and ensure consistency in the way clinical negligence claims are handled.

The reason for introducing the Clinical Negligence Covid-19 Protocol is due to the increased pressures medical experts are under as they have been called to the frontline and they are dealing with a larger workload as a result. This has impacted upon both claimant and defendant work alike, as there is a shortage of available experts to provide medical reports and invariably, complaints processes in hospitals have been delayed or suspended because of the pandemic.

So what does the Clinical Negligence Covid-19 Protocol cover?

The protocol covers various stages of the claims process, from inquests to issuing proceedings. The provisions include:

  • Moratoriums on limitation until three months after the end of the protocol;
  • Service of documents by email as the default position;
  • Virtual or remote examination of claimant’s where reasonable;
  • Reasonable extensions of time to be agreed for defences and letters of response;
  • Reasonable extensions of time to be agreed for compliance with directions; and
  • Consideration of whether an adjournment for cost budgeting be sought.

Comment

It is clear from the above that the Protocol is trying to provide some assurances, during this uncertain period, for those with potential claims, whilst also attempting to minimise the effect of the litigation process upon those providing frontline care. However, it should be noted that the current situation cannot be used as a catch-all to explain delays, when a delay in examination or investigations could have reasonably been avoided.

The provisions in the Protocol are to be reviewed every eight weeks and will remain in place indefinitely until notice is given by one party to terminate the agreement, giving four weeks notice.

Clinical Negligence Covid-19 Protocol

How can Nelsons help?

Kate Harrison is an Associate in our Medical Negligence team.

If you would like any advice in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Kate or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.