The role of a GP expert witness is to provide specialist information, guidance, and opinion on the medical care provided by General Practitioners. Courts rely on the opinion of GP medico-legal experts to help them make decisions on matters including claims for medical negligence and personal injury. What separates GP expert witnesses from other medical witnesses is their experience of a wide range of medical matters, both physical and mental, reflecting the role carried out by GPs. The GP medico-legal witness team at Expert Court Reports have many years of experience preparing clear, detailed expert witness reports and appearing as a witness for both the Prosecution and Defence.
Our GP medico-legal experts, Dr Ajay Birly, Dr Sam Creavin, Dr Katherine Dixon and Dr Laura Longstaff are both highly experienced and actively practising GPs. In addition to their experience and expertise within the field of GP practice, they each have their own areas of medical speciality based on their clinical background and work history; including soft tissue injuries in Road Traffic Accidents, medical education, forensics, palliative care, sexual and reproductive health, and child health.
We are one of the busiest expert witness teams in England, Scotland, and Wales. In most circumstances, however, we can turn around a report in 14 days of assessing your client and the supporting documents you have provided.
Below are the most frequent questions we are asked regarding our GP expert witness service.
What is the role of a GP?
For most of us, our general practitioner is the first person we speak to when we have a concern regarding our physical or mental health. GPs will listen to the information you provide, including your symptoms, ask you further questions, and then recommend a course of action. This may include prescribing medication or other forms of remedy, providing minor treatment within the GP surgery, or referring you to a medical specialist. GPs are trained to spot the signs and symptoms of disease and to take the appropriate action. As such, they have a duty to ensure the care and safety of patients in their care.
What is the role of a GP Medico-legal expert?
The role of a GP medico-legal expert is to provide information and opinion in the form of an expert medical witness report for a legal case. GP expert reports carry a substantial weight within courts and are highly influential in the final decision made by a judge.
When taking on a new case, a GP medical expert will:
- Gather as much information from the patient and/or immediate family members
- Review the basis for the legal case/claim
- Request and review the patient’s medical notes from a range of medical settings
- Request and review other witness reports
- Request or carry out a further medical assessment
- Review all of the information available
Once a GP expert witness has gathered all of the information available, they will prepare an expert witness report.
What types of claims do GP expert witnesses handle?
GP medical expert witnesses are commonly involved in cases of medical or clinical negligence which may arise from:
- Failure to diagnose
- Incorrect diagnosis (misdiagnosis)
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to refer to a specialist or A&E
- Incorrect treatment
- Poorly delivered treatment
- Medication prescription errors
- Failure to see a patient within a reasonable timeframe
Depending on the circumstances of your case, we can handle any claims through the new NHS’s Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practise (CNSGP) scheme.
In addition, GP expert witnesses may be asked to provide their opinion on matters involving personal injury.
Why engage a GP Medico-legal expert?
Our GP medico-legal experts have many years of experience in GP practise, and hence they have an in-depth understanding of the role. Using this knowledge, they will review clinical records at a detailed forensic level to form a complete picture of what led to a specific medical outcome. Crucially, they understand how to spot minor details which can be consequential to a matter and may lead to a successful outcome for the client. They will then use this information to prepare a comprehensive GP expert witness report which will be presented to and used by the court.
What is the GP expert witness report?
A GP expert witness report provides all of the information necessary to enable a judge to make an informed decision on a case. For example, where the matter relates to a breach of duty by a GP, the report will explain why the mistakes made should and would not have been made by a reasonably competent GP. Importantly, they will outline their medical opinion in a manner that meets the established legal tests for negligence. This is where having both medical and legal expertise is vital to winning a case.
Furthermore, given the complexity of medical information, a GP medical expert witness will always make sure that they draft the report so it can be understood by non-medical professionals and remove any areas for potential confusion.
The report must also be written in accordance with part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules and the part 35 Practise Direction. Furthermore, GP expert witnesses will where required, attend court as a witness to present their findings.
Instructing our services and costs
If you would like to find out more about how our GP experts can assist in your legal matter, please call us on 01865 587865, email email@example.com, or request a call by completing our online form. We will arrange a time for you to speak to our GP expert witness who will listen to the details of the case and advise the best way forward.
Should you choose to engage our services, our GP expert witness will need as much information as possible on the case, including, but not limited to:
- Why the report is needed
- The type of case (e.g. personal injury, criminal injury)
- The facts of the case and particulars of the claim
- The current status of the patient
- Witness statements
- Medical notes (primary and hospital – where relevant)
- Any relevant dates and timescales the expert should be aware of (e.g. court dates)
- Costs incurred
If any other relevant information is available, this should also be provided (e.g. maps, photos, diagrams, correspondence, Court Orders).
Where necessary and appropriate, we can arrange for our GP medico-legal expert to meet with the client to undertake a clinical examination.
The costs of the GP expert report will be explained in full at the outset and will be based on the time needed to undertake the assessment process and draft the report. If required, our GP expert witness will attend the Court hearing to provide evidence and answer any questions necessary.