Why Medical Neglect & Ill-Treatment legislation is needed

The wilful neglect or ill treatment of patients by healthcare workers will become an offence in its own right; there is already criminal legislation which acts to prevent such actions and many in the medical profession view the new offences as being wholly unnecessary.

    The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill key points

  • It will be an offence to ill-treat or to wilfully neglect someone in the care of a healthcare worker;
  • Creates an offence for the organisation which employers a worker who causes ill-treatment or neglect;
  • Penalties of up to five years imprisonment and a fine.

The proposed legislation involves nothing but a stick with which to beat the healthcare community which faces increasing demands and pressures. By creating these offences it makes it less likely that a patient will receive an apology – something which they often seek and would settle for more than compensation. The decision to prosecute will be one for prosecutors who shall have to investigate if clinical judgments were reasonable or not and expert evidence will undoubtedly be relied on to guide these decisions.

It could well be the case that civil cases follow criminal ones; the lower standard of proof meaning that more civil cases will succeed where the criminal ones fail. There is understandable concern from the medical profession which wants to promote transparency and to develop a culture of learning from mistakes which this new legislation could foreseeably prevent.

Clinical negligence practitioners will need to be versed in this forthcoming healthcare-specific legislation which could well interweave or run parallel to civil cases. As is usually the case with new legislation, only time and practice will tell us if the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill ever made any sense.

A medical expert with the qualifications and experience in both the medical and legal fields will be ideally placed to advise you on the application of the facts of these cases to the standards set by this forthcoming legislation.

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Dr Grant Charlesworth-Jones

Dr. Charlesworth-Jones not only holds dual qualifications in both medicine and law but also continues to practice both.

He is up to date with the latest medical education and the most recent legal cases and understands what you need from an expert witness probably more so than any medical expert witness or legal expert. Dr. Charlesworth-Jones, whilst qualified in two professional disciplines, understands his role as an expert and never strays beyond that when he is instructed as an expert.

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