Medical Solicitors is pleased to announce that our Consultant Senior Solicitor, Sarah Johnson, has had her AvMA Specialist Clinical Negligence Panel membership reinstated following her move to our law practice last year.
The AvMA – Actional Against Medical Accidents – is the UK’s leading charity for patient safety and justice and Sarah has been a panel member since 1998. Over the last two decades, she has volunteered her time, expertise and knowledge to offering free and confidential advice and support to individuals whose lives have been devastated by avoidable harm in healthcare.
The charity launched in 1982 and has since helped hundreds of thousands of people affected by medical negligence in numerous ways, be it through their free helpline, support with inquests, or input with written casework. Patients can approach the charity to seek an opinion from a panel of experienced, specialist solicitors to discuss whether it is of the professional opinion that their case is worth taking forward before any official legal proceedings begin.
Alongside this, AvMA has also spent almost 40 years moving patient safety up the national agenda by successfully campaigning and lobbying for significant changes to the way the legal system deals with clinical negligence. They have been pivotal in the creation of the CQC, improving access to better healthcare for all, and reducing barriers to patient justice.
Thanks to the organisation, people in England now have a statutory right to Duty of Candour; it is a legal requirement for health organisations to be fully transparent when things do go wrong, informing patients what happened and why an incident occurred. This resulted from AvMA’s involvement in the 2013 Francis report into the Stafford Hospital scandal.
“Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes. But when mistakes are made, it is an important of risk management that these are owned up to and that steps are taken to learn from incidents and educate medical staff to minimise mistakes being made again to other patients,” Sarah says.
But, from a legal perspective, one of the most instrumental outcomes from AvMA’s influence is that they pioneered the concept of clinical negligence being a separate specialism within the legal practice. They provided the first accreditation for medical negligence lawyers which has become an essential quality mark highlighting the commitment of specialist solicitors and their dedication to go the extra mile for clients.
Panel membership involves demonstrating that you have the right skillset and expertise in the complex field of medical negligence law, keeping your training up to date, and having a good grasp of current issues involved in medical litigation.
“Members must also uphold the ethos behind AvMA, empowering and giving a voice to patients during what can be a daunting time when criticising medical professionals,” Sarah says.
The reinstatement of Sarah’s AvMA panel membership emphasises the enduring law career she has had since qualifying over 30 years ago. Sarah is also a Band 2 ranked practitioner by Chambers and Partners, a panel member of the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Accreditation, and a senior litigator of APIL. The AvMA panel membership is yet another benchmark for specialist medical negligence solicitors to aim for and we are proud to have a panel member now officially on our team.
Our director, Caroline Moore said: “Medical Solicitors not only has three Panel members of the Law Society’s Clinical Accreditation Scheme, but Sarah’s reinstatement to the AvMA Panel adds yet another quality kitemark to our team’s expertise – quite an achievement for a niche firm. We pride ourselves in being able to offer our clients specialist medico legal advice in this complex area of law.”