To manage, on behalf of the Trust, all clinical negligence claims and employer/public liability and miscellaneous risk pooling claims.

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1 JOB DESCRIPTION Job Title Division Corporate Services Department/Ward Directorate of Policy & Legal Services Location Trust Headquarters, Harton Wing Main Purpose of the Job To manage, on behalf of the Trust, all clinical negligence claims and employer/public liability and miscellaneous risk pooling claims. To investigate and proactively manage complex and non-complex claims in conjunction with the NHS Litigation Authority and appointed solicitors, giving consideration to issues of Breach of Duty and Causation until claims are settled or withdrawn. To represent the Trust at case conferences and at Court and is signatory on legal documents linked to claims management such as Defence documents and Statements of Claim. To support and give advice to Trust staff who are required to act as witnesses in claims/inquests, prior to and during the course of the hearings. To manage requests from Her Majesty s Coroner to gather and provide relevant information and identify witnesses in respect of Inquest. Inform Executive Directors of any risks to the Trust and attend Inquests as the Trust s representative. Dimensions To facilitate, with the aid of 1.15 WTE Claims Assistants, the efficient and effective management of the Trust s clinical and non clinical claims portfolio. Annual budget for claims is currently 1,701,743 including NHS Litigation Authority premiums. Organisational Chart Chief Executive Executive Director of Clinical Services Director of Service Reform & Corporate Services Customer Services Officer Corporate Services Assistant Claims Assistant

2 Main Tasks Management and investigation of issues of breaches of duty and causation of all clinical negligence, employers liability and public liability claims received by the Trust. Operating within timescales set down by Civil Procedure Rules and the NHS Litigation Authority (NHS LA). Reporting of claims to the NHS LA when appropriate in the form of a detailed preliminary analysis. Maintaining detailed paper files and electronic data in respect of all claims on the DATIX system. Managing requests from H M Coroners for information to assist in the Inquest process. Preparation of briefing notes for the Chief Executive/Chairman prior to Inquests and draft press releases following these public hearings. The post holder liaises with the Coroner and attends Inquests as the Trust s representative to instruct solicitors acing on the Trust s behalf. Communications and Relationships The will work closely with: Executive Directors Director of Service Reform & Corporate Services Consultant and junior medical staff Staff managers from all other clinical and non-clinical disciplines Trust legal advisers and Claimant s solicitors NHS Litigation Authority claims managers and claims investigators H M Coroner and Coroner s Officers Risk Manager Complaints/PALS Manager Health and Safety Officer The management of claims includes investigation of clinical negligence, personal injury and staff claims and involves communication with staff at all levels throughout the Trust as well as Claimant and Defence Solicitors and claims managers from the NHS Litigation Authority. The post holder receives and conveys verbal and written highly complex, sensitive and contentious information. Tact and persuasive skills are required to encourage co-operation from those involved within required time scales. Support and reassurance is offered to Trust staff involved in claims to guide then through the process. Issues surrounding the settlement of claims can be highly contentious and the post holder may need to explain to treating Consultants why their actions or those of their team could not be defended. This requires an empathetic approach and ability to explain the legal perspective as to why a Defence could not be maintained. The post holder will on occasions need to locate and contact retired members of staff or those who have the left the Trust s employment if their co-operation is required in the investigation into the defence of any claims against the Trust. 2

3 The post holder liaises with the Coroner s Officer in arranging and attending Inquests to support staff called as witnesses. Also required to attend case conference meetings with Barristers and Expert Witnesses to represent the Trust and support staff called as witnesses to fact. When dealing with potential witnesses for Court hearings and Coroner s Inquests ability to empathize with and reassure staff is essential. The post holder requires excellent written and verbal communication skills and a high level of interpersonal skills to allow them to deal confidently with Consultant Medical Staff, other disciplines and solicitors on sensitive issues relating to case management. Knowledge, Training and Experience The post holder will have highly developed specialist knowledge, underpinned by theory and in-depth practical experience, of the procedures and processes associated with the management of clinical negligence and public/employee liability claims and the requirements of the Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-Action Protocols. This level of knowledge is acquired by theoretical study and over a minimum of 5 years of practical experience. The post holder should hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Claims and Risk Management in Health Care and, in addition, requires a sound working knowledge and experience of the Data Protection Act, Access to Health Records Act, legal case law and issues surrounding consent to treatment as well as NHS Litigation Authority Guidelines. NHS experience essential, including a working knowledge of hospital departments, functions and roles and detailed knowledge of medical terminology and the composition of medical case notes. This knowledge, coupled with a meticulous attention to detail, underpins the extensive research and investigation skills required in this post. Comprehensive knowledge of Microsoft Office systems, database, spreadsheets, power point and Internet obtained through study and practical experience is essential. Working knowledge of the dedicated Claims Management System, DATIX (the post holder is a system administrator), and PCS system required through on the job training. Analytical Skills The decides upon and collates all information required to fully investigate potential claims against the Trust and requires the ability to interpret, analyse and manipulate as required a range of complex facts and situations so as to prepare a preliminary analysis to the NHS LA which includes: Synopsis and Chronology (drawn from case notes and clinician s reports) Case management problems (perceived problems with care or staff availability, tracing doctors) Breach of duty (assessment of litigation risk against the Bolam test) 3

4 Causation (assessment of facts against the but for test and case law) Views on quantum, costs, probability and estimated date of settlement. (quantum assessments are based on case law knowledge and Judicial Studies Board Guidelines, costs, probability and estimated date of settlement judged by experience). This analysis enables to post holder to assess the litigation risk of each claim and make recommendations directly to the NHS LA on the future management of the claim. Incident forms, personnel and training records form part of the investigation into employer s liability claims. The post holder assesses the evidence and uses their judgement in deciding which members of staff will be required to provide written reports, the contents of these reports then need analysing so as to assess each claim s litigation risk. This allows the post holder to make a recommendation to the NHS LA as to whether this claim should be settled or defended based on their assessment of issues of liability. Lessons learnt relating to risk management are to be fed back to departmental managers, Trust Risk Manager and Health and Safety Officer either in written and verbal format as appropriate. Following requests from H M Coroners for South Tyneside or Newcastle, the post holder reviews medical records and collects relevant information concerning the treatment of the deceased and requests formal written statements from the most appropriate members of staff so as to assist the Coroner with the Inquest process. Design and maintenance of departmental databases which are required to provide regular information to the Executive Board and Board of Directors and ad hoc information as required to the NHS Litigation Authority or Department of Health. Statistical information is interpreted by the post holder and presented in written and graphical format. Planning & Organisation Skills Daily monitoring, planning and organising a broad range of complex activities within time scales set by Civil Procedure Rules and NHS Litigation Authority Reporting Guidelines and adjusting work plan as necessary. This includes ensuring that all relevant information is collated, analysed and reported. Ensuring formal witness statements are signed by relevant clinical or non-clinical staff and returned to Trust solicitors to meet exchange deadlines. Ensuring consultant staff receive all relevant papers, expert reports etc and respond to questions posed. Arranging meetings between clinical staff and Trust s solicitors, or at case conferences with counsel and experts, trials or inquests. Responsible for ensuring disclosure of documentation within the 40-day time limit set by Civil Procedure Rules. Breach of timescales could subject the Trust to financial penalties, which would not be covered by NHS Litigation Authority premiums. For example, failure by the post holder to comply could expose the Trust to the issue of further proceedings thus incurring additional costs and financial penalties at a minimum cost of 400 Court fees to vacate a Disclosure Hearing plus Claimant Solicitor Costs. 4

5 In connection with employer s and public liability claims, liaises with NHS LA Claims Inspector and arranges site visits and interviews with managers and witnesses as appropriate. Ability to change from one activity to another and deal with situations as they arise. Allocating and prioritising tasks to colleagues in own area of work on a daily basis. Physical Skills Advanced keyboard and IT skills and ability to manipulate and present hard copies of data in required format. Patient/Client Care The post holder s main clients are members of the Trust s clinical and non-clinical staff who are supported through the stressful process of litigation or Coroner s Inquests. Deal with relatives of deceased patients at Inquests and also required to respond to all queries or requests for information in a professional manner, providing general, non-clinical advice to patients, ward staff, outside agencies as appropriate. Responsibilities for policy & service development implementation The post holder will be responsible for implementing policy and service developments in their own area and will propose policy or service changes which will impact beyond own work area. For example lessons learned during the course of a claims investigation may result in changes in practice in other areas. Also responsible for ensuring guidance contained with the Trust s policies and protocols for the handling of clinical and non clinical negligence claims are followed. Duties need to be carried out in accordance with national Civil Procedure Rules, Data Protection and Access to Health Records Acts. Responsibilities for Financial and Physical Resources The post holder is an authorised signatory and is responsible for financial verification of invoices from the Trust s legal advisers on a quarterly basis and the NHS Litigation Authority during the course of the claims process, for example when settlement is reached and Claimant Costs agreed. The post holder raises requisitions and records payments on claim files and departmental spreadsheets as appropriate for expert fees, administrative handling fees, solicitor s costs, payments up to excess levels ( 3,000 for Public Liability and 10,000 for Employer s Liability). Responsibility Staff/HR/leadership, training The post holder is the responsible line manger for the staff within the Policy & Legal Department and will perform staff appraisals, identify personal and career development opportunities, monitor sickness absence and return to work interviews/phased returns. The post holder is also responsible for the departmental workload an ongoing allocation of work within the department. Provides advice and training in own area of work to new or less experienced staff. 5

6 Responsibility - Information Resources There is a daily requirement for the post holder to use computer software to create reports and documents linked to the Trust s claims case load. Responsible for development and maintenance of departmental electronic and paper data storage systems used to assist in populating quarterly reports, accurate recording is essential for future reporting of claims information and manipulation of data to provide regular reports to Risk Management and Board meetings and ad hoc information as required to the NHS Litigation Authority or in response to Freedom of Information requests. Statistical information is interpreted by the post holder and presented in written and graphical format. Undertake accurate data input into departmental databases and the Claims Management Database, DATIX, including the input of claims information. DATIX is a Trust-wide system, which includes packages for complaints, risk and incident reporting as well as the Claims Management module. The post holder is a system administrator with responsibility for setting user access rights and unlocking of user accounts in the DATIX system. Maintains an efficient legal case filing system, including secondary storage. Responsibility - Research and Development Undertake surveys or audits as necessary to own work, eg staff surveys. Freedom to Act The post holder is the lead specialist in claims handling in the Trust and is guided by internal and external policies in their role and refers to Trust solicitors or NHS Litigation Authority for guidance if required. Works unsupervised and prioritises own workload whilst overseeing workload of department staff and allocating delegated tasks. Commissions advice from Trust s solicitors on an ad hoc basis for issues out with claims management such as patient capacity issues. Physical Effort Frequent requirement for sitting in a restricted position for a substantial proportion of the day, whilst inputting at a keyboard drafting reports and documents. Mental Effort There is a frequent requirement for concentration where the work pattern is unpredictable. Attention to detail is important when compiling reports and researching information from various sources. Particular attention needs to be paid to dates and compilation of accurate chronological history. The work pattern is unpredictable with shifting priorities depending upon conflicting deadlines. Immediate action is required upon receipt of some Court documentation and formal letters of claim. Frequent interruptions by shifting priorities, telephone calls, s and documents received from the NHS LA via the Document Transfer System. 6

7 There is an occasional requirement for prolonged concentration at Inquests, or meetings with solicitors and/or barristers whilst detailed legal arguments are being discussed following which the post holder may be asked to comment. Emotional Effort The post holder encounters occasional exposure to distressing or emotional circumstances and is required to impart unwelcome news to staff, for example their involvement in a claim against the Trust or the requirement to attend the Coroner s Court or Crown Court to give evidence. The nature of some claims received against the Trust can be distressing, especially investigations surrounding neonatal deaths. Coroner s Inquests can, on occasions, be highly emotional and tense. The post holder is required to provide support to members of staff who may have to attend Court as witnesses and, in certain circumstances, this may prove stressful. Working conditions Office environment, extensive requirement to use Visual Display Unit equipment. Signed. Date (Job Holder) Signed. Date (Line Manager) 7

8 Clinical Negligence The post holder is responsible for the management of the Trust s clinical negligence claims, which involved research and preparation of preliminary analysis reports on issues of liability and quantum in the report format prescribed by the NHS LA and within the timescales set down by the Civil Procedure Rules/Pre-action Protocols and is the lead specialist in this field. The post holder obtains reports/statements from consultant and other clinical staff during the investigative process to enable early assessment on liability (breach of duty) and causation using experience and knowledge of case law and reports claims to NHS LA as required. Attends case conferences with Barristers, Solicitors and witnesses as required. On behalf of Trust, confirms or otherwise agreement with future proposed course of action of individual claim management. The post holder deals with disclosure of documents and enquiries from Claimant s solicitors in addition to correspondence/queries from the NHS LA or Trust s legal advisers on the ongoing management of claims including the prompt return of witness statements, arrangements for case conferences and attendance at Trial when required. Undertakes any subsequent investigation and locating of witness as agreed with the NHS LA/Trust s legal advisers until claim is concluded. The post holder, as the investigating officer, acts as the Trust s representative signatory on legal documents linked to claims management, such as Defence Documents, Statements of Claim, Consent Orders, Formal Disclosure Lists, and agreement to court orders as the Trust remains the legal defendant in the claims. Liabilities and Third Party Claims The post holder is responsible for the management of the Trust s employer s/public liability claims portfolio including claims investigation, research, obtaining reports/statements from managers/staff and liaising with staff at all levels throughout the Trust. Based on interpretation of the evidence the post holder forms a view as to litigation risk and reporting this, and opinion as to whether claims should be defended or settled (breach of duty), with associated documentation/evidence, to the NHS Litigation Authority within the prescribed timescales. Liaising with NHS LA claims managers, inspectors and solicitors and witnesses as appropriate until resolution of claim. The will sign Defences and other relevant pleadings, as the Trust remains the legal defendant to the litigation. Deals with disclosure of documentation and enquiries from Claimant s solicitors in addition to ongoing queries from the NHS LA claims managers. Liaises with Trust s solicitors to obtain witness statements, undertaking additional investigations, arranging and participating in case management conferences and attendances with witnesses when required at Trial. Inquests 8

9 Liaise with Coroner/Coroner s Officer on all Inquests involving the Trust, identifies and obtains statements from relevant medical/nursing staff. Instructs Trust s solicitors as required to act on behalf of the Trust. Arranges for relevant staff to attend Inquests as witnesses and post holder attends Inquests as a representative of the Trust and to provide support to Trust staff. 9

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