As soon as you receive notification of a claim, you should send us the following.
- a copy of the letter or standard form you have received from the claimant's solicitor
- a brief, personally signed note instructing the MDU to assist you
- a note of the address you would like us to use for future correspondence
- the records, including a printout of all computer-held records; send either the originals (by recorded delivery) or clear and complete photocopies
- a report of your own role, with the full name and contact details of any other doctor who may be vulnerable to the allegations.
Records MUST be disclosed within one month of receiving a request, so please act quickly. In practice this could vary depending on the month in question, or if the deadline falls on a bank holiday, but the ICO offers advice on calculating this time limit on its website.
It's likely we'll write to the claimant's solicitors to say we have received their letter and confirming that we will be representing your interests in the future. We ask the solicitors not to communicate directly with you again, but to correspond via the MDU.
If you receive further correspondence or court documents from the claimant's solicitor, please forward them and the envelope they came in to the MDU by first class post on the day you get them. You should keep a photocopy for your own file.
We may also ask you to prepare:
- a typed transcript of the relevant clinical entries, indicating who wrote each entry (for example, by using the initials of the staff involved)
- a clear photocopy of any entries from relevant records, such as the visit book, message book, appointment diary and specimen log.
The MDU usually photocopies all the documents and provides a copy for the claimant's solicitors. We mask the names of any other patients involved (for example, in an appointment diary) to preserve patient confidentiality.
Please tell us if the records contain references to third parties, or any entries you believe should be withheld because disclosure is likely to breach the confidentiality of a third party, or to be seriously detrimental to the patient.
Unfortunately, the realities of clinical practice mean that notes are often brief, abbreviated and hurriedly-written. Any shortcomings in your notes can be addressed in your factual account. It is vital you do not attempt to amend the original records in any way.
Your factual account
We ask you to give us a full, typed, factual account of the events in question, made with reference to your clinical notes. This is solely for our use and is not for disclosure to the claimant's solicitors.
You may find you can't remember everything that happened. If this is the case, tell us clearly and comment on your clinical management based on your usual practice and on what you wrote in the notes at the time. If you can, please give us details of any witness who can support your account of the events or has evidence to give about the events.
If you can remember the relevant consultations then it is important that you give the MDU as full an account as possible at this stage. The claimant may have several years in which to decide whether to pursue a formal claim, so it is obviously vital to write down what you remember sooner rather than later.
This may take time and effort, but it is time well spent if we later need to prepare a defence of your clinical management.
This guidance was correct at publication 14/01/2020. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.