Guidance for Healthcare Professionals acting as Expert Witnesses
The guidance was published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and has been endorsed by the majority of healthcare professional organisations in the UK including: Academy for Healthcare Science, Allied Health Professions Federation, Association of Optometrists, British Dental Association, College of Optometrists, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing and Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
This guidance sets out the standards and conduct expected of all healthcare professions acting as an expert witness in the UK. Please click here to see the full guidance.
Key undertakings include:
- You must hold the appropriate licence to practise/registration and be in, or sufficiently recently in, practice.
- You need to have the necessary clinical knowledge, training and experience to act as an expert witness.
- Your expert witness work should now be part of your professional revalidation or continuous professional development (CPD) process.
- You are now expected to undertake specific training for being an expert witness. You also need to keep up to date with appropriate refresher courses or other activities.
- You must undertake and demonstrate appropriate activity relevant to your clinical expertise and legal aspects of the expert witness role as part of your continuing professional development (CPD) and this should form a part of your annual appraisal.
As voluntary professional bodies, the Academy, the Colleges and other professional bodies are not in a position to regulate or enforce compliance with this new guidance. However, any healthcare professional acting as an expert witness who fails to meet the standards set out in this guidance is now "not considered to be meeting the expectations or demonstrating the values of their profession".
Clinicians acting as expert witnesses must be fully aware of their duties to the court and it is expected that these are properly understood and followed. Failure to do so could result in sanctions against the healthcare professional.
What does this mean for you?
It has always been the case that you should have the necessary clinical knowledge, training and experience to act as an expert witness. However, it is the first time that there has been guidance that all healthcare professionals who undertake or are looking to undertake expert witness work are now expected to attend specific expert witness training (in report writing, courtroom skills and law, evidence and procedure) and be kept up to date on a regular basis.
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