14 Oct 2021
Spotlight on Our Clinical Negligence Expert, Katie Lynch
We’ve asked our in-house clinical negligence lawyer, Katie Lynch, to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions which we believe will shed further, invaluable, light on Katie’s role here at Speed Medical.
After 6 years of providing expert clinical negligence services to our clients, Katie is both well versed and qualified to share her experiences with us and afford us a greater understanding of just what she does.
Having focused primarily on clinical negligence cases during her tenure with Speed, Katie has worked diligently to forge productive and trusted working relationships with solicitors, who approach our clinical negligence expert when faced with challenging individual client cases.
In your experience, what would you describe as the predominant pain points a clinical negligence solicitor encounters when instructing a medical agency?
When you are assisting clients who have suffered as a result of clinical negligence, you are striving to do the best you possibly can for your client. Introducing a third party and seeking their assistance to progress the investigation of a claim can be challenging. You need to be wholly satisfied that they have the knowledge and expertise in clinical negligence so you feel reassured that they understand exactly what you require on a particular case. I personally found instructing an agency quite daunting in practice. I was often dealing with several people in relation to my case, updates and communication were intermittent and it was always a bit of a mystery as to what the fees would be for a particular service!
Flexibility can also be a major pain point in terms of being able to use an agency as and when required on a particular case. Direct access to expert’s and the ability to also do my own due diligence prior to instructing was key and I was often met with resistance from the agency.
Having identified the pain points, can you tell us how Speed overcomes them?
A dedicated clinical negligence case handler - We provide one point of contact on all clinical negligence services from start to finish on all your clinical negligence cases. Direct contact details are provided for your case handler at the outset, and they are able to tailor the way they work to suit a particular fee earner. For example, even down to the way we communicate with a fee earner and how often.
Requisite experience in Clinical Negligence - Our clinical negligence team, comprising of in house legal and medical knowledge in addition to our clinical governance regime reinforces to our clients that we have the requisite knowledge and expertise. We have over 100 years’ experience between us in the area of clinical negligence. Our Clinical Advisory Board comprise of a wide range of consultants in various medical specialties, advising us on clinical issues and have experience as medico legal experts in clinical negligence also.
Flexibility - Firms utilise us in a range of ways, some accessing our full range of services with other’s utilising us purely for the benefit of deferred payment terms. Part of my role is to work with firms to establish their requirements and provide a tailored service to deliver exactly what they require.
Transparency in our fees and the flexibility in funding models – This is something I discuss with firms right at the very outset. Every aspect of our service is quoted so no fee bearing work is incurred without prior agreement of the fee earner directly. Information in relation to fees throughout the life of a clinical negligence case is available on request. The mystery in relation to fees is no more!
Direct communication with expert’s - We provide full expert details as part of our process, and this enables fee earner’s to contact expert’s directly if they wish to do so prior to formally instructing.
It has been widely reported that a Commons Health Select Committee has warned that clinical negligence needs a shake-up, especially in the field of maternity services. How do you see this panning out?
Sadly, incidents in maternity care have been highlighted over a number of years with certain Trusts being more widely publicised such as the scandals surrounding Morecambe Bay, Shrewsbury and Telford. Criticism and media reporting has often focused on the costs of litigation and the narrative at times has been very much a frustration with not much to be said in terms of action to address the issues. Lack of resources and staff to reduce the number of cases that arise is a real issue and the result is far too often families are left devastated at what should be the most joyous time.
The announcement earlier this year of additional funding into maternity care is obviously welcomed but it will remain to be seen if this is enough to make a marked impact and improve safety for families accessing maternity services in the coming years. It offers little reassurance to those families who live everyday with the consequences of failings in maternity care.
The recent suggestion from Jeremy Hunt that we move towards a no fault based compensation scheme is a radical one and really does threaten the access to full compensation that a patient and their family really deserve.
What is the biggest challenge facing the arena of clinical negligence here in the UK, and how is Speed preparing for it?
There are several potential challenges to clinical negligence but fixed costs in clinical negligence cases is something that is still very much on the agenda for the government. Possibly gathering further momentum on the back of NHS support gaining as a result of the Covid pandemic. Thankfully we have a number of bodies within the industry such as SCIL and AvMA who work tirelessly to ensure access to justice is maintained and is not lost amongst the proposed reforms.
As an agency with a specialist clinical negligence team, we will follow developments carefully and work with our law firms to ensure we are able to offer the relevant services to assist firms with any proposed reforms that are implemented.
What can your clients expect from the team at Speed Medical?
A very bespoke, tailored service, established and underpinned by a clinical negligence lawyer and medical team that will understand your requirements from the outset. We have over 100 years’ experience in the field of clinical negligence between us! We adapt to compliment the way in which a particular clinical negligence team require.
The flexibility in terms of how we work enables firms to select the relevant service they wish to use. Whether they utilise our fixed fee screening service at GP or consultant level or whether they need multi-disciplinary reports in various specialties we will ensure we provide the best possible experts for that particular case.
We work on your cases daily at key stages for you and the relationships we establish with fee earners ensures we are trusted to progress with each stage of the investigative stages of a case.
What drew you to the area of clinical negligence?
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of a fantastic clinical negligence team at Fenton’s solicitors. I quickly realised that working within such an experienced team both legally and medically, the great opportunity we had to make a positive impact on a client’s life when they had been affected by negligence. The client journey was at the heart of everything we did. We supported client’s not only with their claim but also enabling them to gain answers to questions in relation to their care that they had not been able to find answers to previously.
I am also very analytical, the area of clinical negligence always interested me. I was renowned for getting excited at the prospect of medical records arriving so I could analyse and work with our in-house nurse and team to consider whether we progress to investigating further. When you conclude a clinical negligence case for a client, the sense of satisfaction to know that you have made some small contribution to making their lives more comfortable for the future is extremely rewarding.
What fires your passion to deliver the quality of service you do, in terms of medical report compilation for clinical negligence clients?
I still have the passion for clinical negligence that I first had when I moved into the area of clinical negligence a number of years ago. Having the experience as a fee earner using medical agencies, I had an opportunity with Speed Medical to ensure we provide services that are hugely beneficial to law firms coupled with the commercial benefits that complimented this also. Working in partnership with clinical negligence teams nationally is a privilege and enables me to listen to exactly what they need and continue to strive to enhance and develop our services. Being part of the handl Group, we also have other amazing complimentary services such as case management at Harrison’s Associates therefore further enhancing the range and quality of services, we can assist firms within the area of clinical negligence.
Thanks to Katie for answering our questions and to find out more about our clinical negligence services, contact us right now.