Co-operation and collaboration. A new frontier for clinical negligence?

How refreshing it was to hear Simon Hammond, Director of Claims Management for NHS Resolution speak at the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers conference in Birmingham a few days ago. He may have thought he was very much in the ‘Lion’s Den’ addressing a predominantly claimant lawyer audience, but his message, if anything, seemed to me to be opening a welcome new frontier in this area of law.

His message was crystal clear. Removing the adversarial element of the litigation process is now firmly on his organisation’s agenda with a new air of collaboration and cooperation between the parties seen as the way forward. He described the steps currently being taken with regard to better collaboration as a cause for celebration and encouraged those present to foster greater cooperation moving forward. He was very candid in his assessment when saying his organisation did not always get everything right but there is a definite change of culture under way towards greater cooperation with their claimant opponents.

He did face some criticism from some members present which tended to show the opposite culture still in place, accusing his organisation of stalling the process, with one member advising him that her client had waited for an apology, but this was delayed and unfortunately he died whilst waiting.

Nevertheless, and perhaps mindful of the £32 million saved in NHS litigation costs when the COVID Protocol was in place (a mechanism in the pandemic that promoted cooperation between parties by not issuing proceedings), he suggested the responsibility was on ALL to foster collaboration and to work hard to remove the adversarial element in the litigation process. In my assessment, these are early days and in many cases, cooperation and collaboration does not appear to be prevalent. But if the future is heading towards this point, then it must be welcomed by all concerned for the obvious benefits it provides, not least in cost savings to the NHS and swifter access to justice for claimants.

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