Protection in Practice

These stories are based on real cases of us helping members like you to navigate difficult situations.

You know how important it is to have expert advice and support should claims of clinical negligence arise. But these stories demonstrate how membership can protect you beyond those clinical negligence claims to ensure your career and professional standing are protected too.

If you are concerned about any issues similar to the ones featured in these films please contact our medicolegal advice line, where our expert team are ready and happy to help.

Dr Helena Wright's story

Coroner concerns over prescribing

Having given a routine statement to the coroner about the death of a patient, this doctor faced further questioning. See how our expert guidance before and during the inquest helped her avoid additional criticism.

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Facing a coroner investigation

It’s up to the coroner to decide what action to take when a death is reported. An inquest may be held where the death was violent or unnatural, if it followed a period of detention or the cause of death is uncertain.

A coroner’s inquest is something many GPs can expect to deal with at some point in their career. Often evidence-giving will be relatively straightforward, but getting expert advice is still important.

Something as innocuous as being asked to write a report after an incident can still lead to further consequences.

If you are contacted by the coroner, get in touch for advice as soon as you can, even if you think it’s a simple request and you can deal with it yourself.

Giving a statement

The coroner may ask you to provide a report into the patient’s care.

Your responsibility is to give a clear, factual account of what happened. Don’t rely on your recollection but consult the patient’s notes first. There is a certain amount of skill in report writing and our team can assist you with this. A well written report can assist the coroner in determining the facts whereas one which is misleading or omits important facts can lead to further inquiries.

The GMC expects doctors to self-refer if they have been subject to criticism at an Inquest, so seeking our advice straight away is an important step in reducing the prospect of being criticised.

Preparing for an inquest

When we are getting you ready for an inquest, our goal is to ensure you feel prepared and ready to present your evidence clearly and credibly.

We know exactly what the coroner will be looking for and any likely challenges you might face, so we can use this experience to help you reflect on the case and prepare as much information as you can.

When we assist with an inquest, your Medical Protection support team will work with you to identify any possible concerns and address them early. They will also talk you through what to expect in court, from the practicalities, to giving evidence and being questioned.

Attending an inquest

If you are asked to attend an inquest as a witness, your role is to provide impartial evidence to help the court reach its decision.

Evidence is given by witnesses under oath, which means that you are under a legal obligation to tell the truth at an Inquest. It is not a function of the coroner to apportion blame. The coroner’s court is one of investigation and inquiry; it is not adversarial.

However, questions from family members can be hostile and ‘interested persons’ have the right to representation.

Having support from our experts is vital to ensure you’re prepared for a hearing. When we assist with a coroner investigation we may arrange legal representation for you to help protect your interests.

Demonstrating insight

Our experts can help you determine where you might be vulnerable to criticism. It’s important to show you have reflected on the situation and taken action to avoid a similar situation in future.

We offer expert medicolegal advice and a range of resources to support you with this. Members can access free workshops and educational materials to gain awareness and demonstrate insight by putting new strategies in place. In this scenario useful courses include safer prescribing and record keeping.

Prevention is ultimately a lot less stressful than dealing with a problem after is has occurred. Medical Protection courses form an important part of your CPD and can help you avoid problems occurring or escalating in future.

Find out more about our online learning and workshops at

Protection in practice

GPs can be held to account for their actions in many situations other than being sued, coroner investigations being one of them. It is therefore vital that you have access to expert help to anticipate professional challenges and limit the potential damage to your career and reputation.

While the Government’s state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs in England and Wales will provide support with clinical negligence claims in many (although not all) cases, it won’t provide this type of support or advice .In order to safeguard your career, you need to have professional protection alongside state indemnity. That’s where we come in.

We’re at the end of the phone whenever you need us and can help with a wide range of situations where you face professional scrutiny. This includes complaints, disciplinary proceedings, coroner’s inquests, police matters and GMC investigations. In addition to this, our medicolegal advice line provides assistance on a wide range of medicolegal and ethical matters that clinicians face on a daily basis.

Our expertise means we can put your welfare first. We are best placed to provide emotional support, anticipate challenges, help you explain your actions and demonstrate insight, all of which can all lead to better outcomes.

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