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  1. Clinical negligence: defendant
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For some, Capsticks LLP is ‘the best in the field’ and provides ‘a superb’ service to its clients, who rate the ‘range of expertise among its specialist team’; its ‘depth of knowledge and well-executed tactics are second-to-none’. The practice acts for a number of notable clients, including the NHSLA, MDDUS and various leading private healthcare providers, and specialises in abuse claims and psychiatric injury. Recent work includes a £2m settlement reached on behalf of The Secretary of State for Health and the NHSLA in a case involving the investigation of more than 70 claims relating to Jimmy Savile’s association with various NHS hospitals and his sexual abuse of patients; the case was led by Philip Hatherall, who is a key partner for the NHSLA. Heading the department is Peter Marquand, who specialises in high-value and complex cases, and acts as liaison partner with the NHSLA. Singled out by clients for his ‘excellent’ representation, Majid Hassan acts as lead partner for the MDDUS, as well as advising the NHS and a number of professional sports bodies on clinical risk management.

Undoubtedly one of the leading players’ in the field, Clyde & Co LLP has a ‘responsive, efficient and empathetic’ team of solicitors who ‘work hard and show good judgement’. The firm has maintained its position on the NHSLA panel since 1999 and continues to undertake complex, high-value work for a number of insurers and healthcare providers. The practice also provides an international service and has extensive healthcare capabilities across the globe, including in the Middle East, South Africa and the Far East. Recent work includes defending a private neurosurgeon in a spinal decompression case; the claimant alleged that he suffered post-operative nerve injury, however the case was ultimately dismissed. Heading the department with ‘enormous drive’, Claire Petts specialises in medical malpractice and has particular expertise in brain injury claims. Rob Wilson is experienced in acting for both medical malpractice insurers and NHS bodies, with an emphasis on medical malpractice defence litigation and inquests.

DAC Beachcroft LLP has acted for the NHSLA for a number of years and is experienced in providing strategic, commercial and regulatory health advice on a range of issues affecting the NHS and other private healthcare providers. The practice specialises in catastrophic injury claims brought against the NHS and handling claims with potential liabilities in excess of £2bn. Recent work includes defending the NHSLA in a £6m catastrophic brain injury claim; the claimant allegedly suffered hypoglycaemia and subsequent brain injury as a result of negligent care. Nigel Montgomery, who heads the national health sector team, is a nominated partner for the NHSLA and is experienced in catastrophic injury claims. Also recommended are Matthew McGrath, who is head of clinical risk and specialises in handling brain injury claims; and Heather Durston-Hillyer, who has experience in maximum severity cases with an emphasis on cerebral palsy and other birth-related injury claims.

Hempsons handles the full range of clinical negligence claims for the NHSLA, MDU and a range of commercial medical practice insurers. The practice has worked on a number of multi-party cases; recent examples include a £6m cerebral palsy claim against the NHSLA and Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust allegedly caused by obstetric negligence. Key figures include John Holmes, who specialises in cases involving mental health; Nadya Wolferstan, who is experienced in acting on behalf of NHS Trusts and has experience in handling cases involving clinical governance, mental health law interpretation and public inquiries; and Mary Menjou, who has experience in dealing with complex wrongful birth claims involving rare syndromes such as crit du chat and peters plus syndrome, as well as jaundice leading to kernicterus.

Kennedys’s ‘excellent’ practice ‘compares well with its peers’ in the field and provides ‘very good and reliable’ advice. The ‘personable’ team takes ‘a sensible and pragmatic approach’ to dealing with a broad range of cases, including cerebral palsy, obstetrics, gynaecological claims, paediatrics and high-value spinal and orthopaedic claims. The firm is also experienced in acting on behalf of the NHSLA and medical malpractice insurers; recent work includes defending the Medical Protection Society over a liability claim involving an alleged negligent antibiotic prescription resulting in a fatal allergic reaction. Department head Janet Sayers led on that matter and is experienced in spinal injury and anaesthetic claims, as well as advising on issues of consent and the Human Rights Act. Christopher Malla is ‘very knowledgeable’ and specialises in advising NHS trusts on consent to treatment, end of life decisions, emergency declarations and judicial reviews. Ed Glasgow specialises in high-value birth injury cases and claims involving paralysis following spinal injury. Nico Fabri is experienced in acting on behalf of private healthcare providers, medical malpractice insurers and defence organisation, in addition to NHS Trusts.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s ‘extremely professional’ team has ‘outstanding experience and expertise’ in the field. The practice sits on the NHSLA’s panel and acts for a number of private healthcare providers and medical malpractice insurers, as well as having significant expertise in Human Rights Act claims. Recent work includes a £6m birth injury claim brought by a mother and son alleging delay in the management of delivery, leading to brain damage to the child and an emergency hysterectomy for the mother; the claim was successfully defended on behalf of Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Joanne Easterbrook heads the department and has experience in complex and high-value cases, often involving mental health and the Human Rights Act. Also recommended is Julie Charlton, who is noted for her ‘excellent client care’ and has experience in managing the complete range of clinical negligence cases, including spinal and brain injury. Matthew Trinder joined BLM.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice provides ‘depth, breadth and scope of knowledge and expertise’ and is a key member of the NHSLA panel. The firm has experience in handling a range of high-value cases including brain and birth-related injury claims. Recent work includes a multimillion-pound case involving an alleged failure to diagnose infective endocarditis, which resulted in the claimant suffering post-operative brain damage; liability was agreed between parties and the team was able to secure a more favourable settlement on behalf of the defendant. Department head Andrew Craggs specialises in cases of stress and bullying and is recommended alongside Mike McKenna, who has ‘enormous intellect’ and provides ‘outstanding service’. and Kiran Bhogal joined from Weightmans LLP and Emma Galland joined from Clyde & Co LLP.

Weightmans LLP is experienced in handling a range of complex and high-value cases and advising major clients on law reform, risk management and alternative dispute resolution. The practice recently defended the NHSLA and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in a claim concerning alleged negligent treatment of an infant with febrile convulsion who later developed meningitis, profound brain damage and disability; the £8m claim was successfully defended on the basis that there were no symptoms at the time of review, meaning that a blood test which would have shown the need for treatment was not required. The case was led Rachel Kneale, who heads the practice alongside Vanessa Splaine and has expertise in high-value obstetric and neurological cases. Splaine is experienced in handling high-value maximum severity claims including neurological injuries sustained at birth and spinal injury in adults and children. Paul Thomson joined from Capsticks LLP and has particular expertise in obstetric and neurological cases of maximum severity and is experienced in handling multimillion-pound matters on behalf of the NHSLA.

BLM’s ‘highly rated’ practice represents a range of clients across the healthcare sector including insurers, healthcare defence organisations, care homes and individual healthcare professionals. The firm handles a broad spectrum of cases, including claims involving birth-related injury, delay in diagnosis and amputation. The ‘very knowledgeable’ team includes Gary Allison, who acts as a nominated partner for the NHSLA and is instructed by clients on the full range of healthcare matters, including professional discipline, coroner’s inquests and criminal liability; Vicki Swanton, who heads the national healthcare department and has experience in handling high-value claims, disciplinary cases, and allegations of medical negligence or malpractice; Greg McEwen, who specialises in defending complex and high-value negligence claims for the NHSLA and the MPS; and Matthew Trinder, who joins the partnership from Bevan Brittan LLP and brings with him specialist experience in obstetric brain injury cases, neurosurgical claims, and matters involving screening and pathology.

CMS’s clinical negligence and medical advisory team predominantly handles negligence claims and professional disciplinary cases on behalf of members of The Medical Defence Union and the Dental Defence Union; other clients include medical and professional indemnity insurers and members of the medical profession involved in matters not covered by a medical defence organisation. The practice has experience in cases involving surgical malpractice, orthopaedics, delayed diagnosis and cosmetic surgery. Department head Chris Horsefield is experienced in defending clinicians in complex high-value and high-profile claims.

Plexus Law’s ‘outstanding’ practice provides ‘commercial, practical and expert’ advice in a range of clinical negligence areas, including catastrophic brain injury claims, orthopaedics, gynaecological complications and psychiatric treatment. The firm is also particularly experienced in representing clients at inquests involving deaths in custody, care homes and psychiatric clinics, as well as specialising in sports injury law. The department has ‘excellent industry knowledge’ and is led by Sian Davies, who is experienced in handling high-value cases involving surgical negligence, birth injury and cosmetic surgery claims for a range of clients, including major healthcare providers and insurers. Other partners within the department include cosmetic negligence expert Jason Howarth; Jamie Colman, who deals with judicial review claims brought under the Human Rights Act; and catastrophic injury specialist Dr Julian Morris.

RPC has ‘a strong presence in the clinical negligence market’ with experience in complex cases including brain injury, spinal injury and the negligent care of patients who are sectioned or detained; the practice also specialises in reproductive healthcare and fertility services and is singled out by clients as ‘a market leader for claims relating to the provision of sexual health services’. The firm has recently been involved in the defence of Spire Healthcare Limited in a high-profile £50m case brought against consultant surgeon Ian Paterson and the NHS Trust over the alleged performance of ‘cleavage sparing mastectomies’ and other unnecessary surgical procedures. Department head Dorothy Flower has acted for a variety of medical malpractice insurers, private hospitals, individual healthcare practitioners, and other healthcare organisations; she is a leading solicitor in the field of reproductive medicine and has experience in mental health, psychiatric injury, overdose and mis-prescription claims.

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