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Meet the team

As a Medical Protection member in Scotland, you have access to a wide range of specialist support and advice. Based in our Edinburgh office, the Medical Protection team has extensive experience of Scotland’s medicolegal landscape – find out how they are working hard on your behalf
08 May 2015

  
In 2009, MPS established its base of specialist Scottish medicolegal services in our office on George Street, Edinburgh. Since then the team has grown to over 30 members of staff working together to support members practising in Scotland.

MPS Scotland also provides:

  • Risk management and performance improvement: Each year we deliver up to 40 teaching sessions and lectures for hospital doctors and general practice teams across Scotland.
  • Support for your development: You have access to a range of CPD-approved education and risk management resources in Scotland. Each year, MPS runs up to 20 workshops and seminars in Scotland, including half-day risk management workshops and full-day practice management seminars.

The team in Edinburgh features specialists in their field, with many years’ combined medicolegal experience. Here a small selection of the team explain how their expertise can help support and guide MPS members in Scotland.

Julia Bryden, Solicitor

I did my LLB at Edinburgh University and spent two years training at a full service law firm where I specialised in litigation. I concentrated mainly on personal injury and medical negligence cases. I have experience acting on behalf of claimants too, which has given me an insight into both ‘sides’ – this can be particularly useful in terms of understanding the motivations behind a claimant’s decision-making process, for example, in the context of settlement negotiations. I have worked at MPS for just over a year and handle a wide variety of cases ranging from high value catastrophic injury cases to lower value matters. There is a wide exposure to an array of medical specialties, which makes it a very interesting job.

From the moment a claim is instigated, MPS members have a dedicated team who work together on their behalf. This team is comprised of an in-house solicitor who oversees the strategic direction of the claim, a medicolegal adviser who advises on the clinical issues, and an external solicitor from one of our Scottish panel firms, who has day-to-day conduct of the case. This combined knowledge works to our members’ benefit in making the entire claims process as painless as possible.

The benefit of our Edinburgh office is that we are on hand to advise MPS members how any changes in domestic legislation, or new decisions coming out of the Scottish courts, may affect them in their day-to-day practice. The legal system in Scotland is not the same as that in England or Wales so we are ideally positioned to advise on legal developments and nuances specific to Scotland.

Dr Angelique Mastihi, Senior medicolegal adviser

After many years working as an anaesthetist in London, I became very interested in medical law and ethics; after completing my Masters degree I worked as a paralegal at a law firm and then became a clinical risk and claims manager at a London-based NHS trust. I joined MPS in 2004 and transferred to the Edinburgh office when it opened in 2009 – in fact I was one of the first medicolegal advisers in the office.

Now I am a full member of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine and the team leader of the Scotland office’s medicolegal advisers. As well as supporting members in Scotland who are facing complaints and clinical negligence claims, I am active in helping doctors avoid trouble in the first place. This includes delivering CPD-accredited sessions at local hospitals and GP surgeries, on topics such as complaints and fatal accident inquiries, and I also try to safeguard Scotland’s future generations of doctors by tutoring students in ethics at Edinburgh Medical School.

Dr Gordon McDavid, Medicolegal adviser

I graduated with MBChB from Glasgow University. I worked as a doctor in various hospitals around the west of Scotland, eventually specialising in general and respiratory medicine. Eventually I decided to move into full-time medicolegal work and joined MPS three and a half years ago. The Scottish caseload is unique in that much of the law and terminology is different from the rest of the UK.

Having an office based in the centre of Edinburgh not only makes it easier for MPS members to access our support, but it also enables us to retain local specialist knowledge of relevant rules and regulations, and to stay informed of any changes.

The role of a medicolegal adviser is quite varied. We assist members who have had an incident at work that has led to a patient making a complaint or claim against them; however, when a patient is unhappy with their care, there are lots of different ways a doctor can be criticised, be it through a fatal accident inquiry, a report to the procurator fiscal for criminal activity, or a complaint to the GMC. MPS is well-versed in those processes and is well-placed to assist members in getting the best outcome.

What I think MPS does well is offer support to members through what can be a really stressful time: you’re facing potential sanctions, the potential of a career-ending decision being taken. The MPS Edinburgh office has access to specialist Scottish legal advice both internally and externally. It’s helpful to doctors to have this individual support: MPS is there to look after your professional reputation and interests.

Dr Andrew Power, Medicolegal adviser

My background is in general practice. I trained in Glasgow and was a principal in the south side of the city for four years, before focusing on prescribing support. In 2011, I moved to MPS but continue to do out-of-hours GP work – this ensures that when speaking to members I am up-to-date with the NHS and general practice environment.

I am a member of the RCGP and RCP, and completed a diploma in healthcare ethics and law; I am also working towards membership of the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine. At MPS, I handle cases affecting our members in Scotland, which can cover complaints, claims, fatal accident inquiries, disciplinary issues and regulatory matters. Medicolegal advisers have a unique role – our experience allows us to advise members that what seems to be a straight-forward issue can grow arms and legs and become something more complex. We can also reassure members: often the first thing they want to know is: “Is this the end of my career?” Sometimes a doctor feels they may need to sell their house or their car to pay for a claim, which is not the case.

The main thing is that we support members through the use of our experience. Medicolegal advice can also be proactive, and I’ve assisted with ethics tutorials at the Edinburgh Medical School and delivered complaints talks to practice managers and, more recently, to a group of consultants in Lanarkshire. I also attend the Scottish Local Medical Committee annual conference to keep abreast of issues affecting general practice in Scotland.

Hiliary Steele, Solicitor advocate

I qualified in law at Edinburgh University and went on to practise at a firm that specialised in professional negligence and personal injury work. I was drawn to medical negligence and represented doctors, dentists and physiotherapists in hospital disciplinary matters and regulatory matters at the GMC. I was also involved in a number of fatal accident inquiries, dealing with diving accidents and hospital deaths where the procurator fiscal had a particular interest in the circumstances.

I became involved in claims work and representing doctors in court. Both in private practice and at MPS I dealt with defence work – so I have always defended the medical profession. Because many of the claims I handled were complex and of high value, they were litigated in the Court of Session, which requires legal representation from an advocate or solicitor advocate. In order to hone my skills, I studied to become a solicitor advocate and gained my extended rights of audience in 2011.

This qualification allows me to appear on behalf of our members in Scotland’s highest civil court: being trained to lead evidence from a witness is hugely beneficial, when considering how to draw knowledge and crucial information from our members but also our expert witnesses.

I have been with MPS for five years. Working in the Scotland office, I have been involved in a number of Scottish Government consultation responses by MPS that affect the Scottish medical profession. More recently I have drafted responses for the Scottish Civil Courts Review and the Court Reform Scotland Bill. I am currently working on MPS’s response to proposals to introduce a statutory duty of candour, and to a consultation on proposals for an offence of wilful neglect or ill-treatment in health and social care settings. It is vital that we give a voice to our members in order to protect the interests of the medical profession.

Dr James Thorpe, Medicolegal adviser

Prior to joining MPS, I worked in general and vascular surgery, in hospitals in the north of England and west of Scotland. Over the last few years I have been interested in the ethical and legal aspects of clinical practice, and have a growing appreciation for the ethical and legal considerations facing doctors in everyday situations.

In our work at MPS, we try to help our former colleagues in clinical practice who may be facing problems – helping them is a very rewarding part of the job, and we take advice calls on a multitude of different concerns. I am also involved in educating practising doctors – this can take the form of lectures and talks around the country, or writing for our publications – to try and reduce the chances of them facing difficulties in future.

Having recently worked in the NHS, I know the stresses and strains facing our members, particularly in the acute sector, and I understand the increasing pressures faced by all clinical staff. I hope that in my role I will be able to help my fellow professionals with the potential difficulties they may face in their careers.

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