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New expert witness guidance for healthcare professionals

5 June, 2019

A new advice document has been published for healthcare professionals who act as professional or expert witnesses, highlighting the value of the role and giving useful information.

Published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the advice is endorsed by the Society and the other members of the Allied Health Professions Federation, as well as statutory regulators.

Titled Acting as an expert or professional witness, the document says, “An expert witness undertakes an extremely important role in the administration of justice. It can provide interesting and valuable experience for a healthcare professional and at the same time, the performance and behaviour of an expert witness reflects not only the individual concerned but also their wider speciality and profession.”

The endorsing bodies agreed on a set of principles that healthcare professionals should follow when acting as a witness:

  • Demonstrating legitimacy
  • Training and experience
  • Scope
  • Understanding the context
  •  Personal responsibilities

The guidance was created following recommendations made by Sir Norman Williams in his review of gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare. It makes recommendations to support a ‘more just and learning culture in the healthcare system.’

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