I have just returned from the annual Professional Negligence Bar Association's Clinical Negligence Conference which was superbly run by Angus McCullough QC, Cara Guthrie and Victoria Woodbridge. There was a series of stimulating lectures from medical and legal experts and some pleasant social occasions with fellow barristers (yes some of them do talk about subjects other than their own cases). As a good conference should, it raised and inspired various ideas and questions Here is an almost random selection, some from speakers, some of my own:
- Is there anyone - anyone in the country - who knows what the details of the civil litigation costs reforms will be and how the reforms will affect civil litigation?
- Look out for increasing numbers of claims related to delay in diagnosing TB or failures by employers to protect employees from TB passed on by infected colleagues, patients or customers. TB is on the increase and it is going to affect areas of the NHS already under stress.
- Why is there a test of constructive knowledge under section 14 of the Limitation Act but none under section 7 of the Human Rights Act? Would issues related to constructive knowledge be better dealt with under the section 33 discretion?
- Rabone is pronounced Ray Bone not Rubone or Raboney.
- Are we all sure that we can tell a divisible injury from an indivisible injury?
- My undergraduate philosophy and logic tutors could greatly assist the higher courts to achieve some consistency and clarity when addressing the issue of causation.
- In twenty years from now will mastectomy still be a means of treating breast cancer? Advances in nanotechnology may allow for very precisely targeted treatment of malignant tumours without the need for mutilating surgery.
- In twenty years from now will ante-natal ultrasonography have been replaced by a combination of more advanced scanning techniques and fetal genetic testing?
- Am I the only barrister who needed "reminding" of the Bradford Hill criteria? Should all medico-legal experts be applying them to cases involving, say, the effect of a delay in diagnosing cancer?
- There is too wide a spectrum of practice in Coroners' Courts across the country. The new chief coroner ought to produce a uniform set of directions dealing for example with disclosure of Serious Untoward Incident Reports and witness statements taken when healthcare providers carry out such investigations.
Why do my toes want to curl when I hear classically trained voices singing spiritual songs from the "old south" such as Swing Low (you had to be there - their voices were admittedly beautiful, but...)?
If the legal costs to the NHS in clinical negligence cases fell last year, is the "compensation culture" on the wane? Or will the costs reforms encourage even more claims and increased costs?
Now back to work....