There is a growing shortage of medical professionals willing and able to provide expert opinions to courts and tribunals. The cause of this is two-fold: firstly, many senior consultants who routinely provide expert opinions are retiring. Secondly fewer recent newly qualified consultants taking their first steps into medicolegal work, reasons given include the amount of time involved, the lack of effective training, the fear of complaint and the lack of proper funding.
There have been cases of doctors being suspended from the GMC for giving expert opinions outside area of expertise. In addition, the removal of 400 year old immunity for expert witness from being sued has further reduced the supply of new experts. In one case the GMC’s own expert argued that a trainee psychiatrist could not prepare an expert report unless they were very expert in a particularly narrow area of relevance to the case, which has limited scope for training new medicolegal experts.
Our alliance is focused on reversing this trend – more consultants should have the confidence to offer their expertise to the legal profession.