NHS Launches New Mediation Service for Fatal and Elderly Care Cases

The National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has announced the launch of a new mediation service.

Initially, mediation will be offered in all suitable cases involving a fatality or elderly care. The mediation process will be confidential and the parties involved will be able to select from a panel of mediators provided by CEDR, a well known mediation provider. It is thought that parties will have legal representation but this is not an obligatory part of the scheme. Aggrieved patients or loved ones could in theory represent themselves.

Mediation is a process by which the parties to a dispute are encouraged to reach a settlement by a mediator, who is an independent third party. A mediator will not make a decision in relation to a case but will help the parties reach agreement through discussion and analysis of risks. Parties do not have to mediate but if they do and it is successful the expense and stress of court proceedings can be avoided. Mediation can also be useful as it sometimes provides an opportunity to discuss what went wrong and why – rather than just the issue of compensation. Compromises can be reached in mediated matters that don’t just involve damages for example where a family want to discuss preventative steps that have been taken to prevent similar events occurring or where they want an apology for what happened.

This appears to be a welcome step forward. Mediation is an effective way to resolve clinical negligence disputes especially in a case where someone has lost a loved one. It remains to be seen whether the scheme will be successful or indeed whether it will be extended to cover all suitable claims.

Laura Zander Solicitor at Price Slater Gawne commented

“Mediation has been available for medical negligence cases for many years – as long as the parties agree to it or the Court orders it to take place. PSG’s experience of mediation is that it has been very useful not just because of the outcomes we have achieved but it provides the aggrieved party chance to take part in the process, first hand. We will be happy to represent clients who have claims that fall into these categories and who want to pursue claims this way. In some cases it is an effective alternative to litigating through the Courts.”