Inquest Case Law for Doctors

Inquest Law for Doctors - Latest CasesLatest Inquest Law Reports for Doctors:

Doctors Defence Service will digest and summarise, below, key inquest cases relevant to medical doctors and specialist medical practice.

Case Law Update

Article 2 duties apply to informal patients in Psychiatric Care Setting:

Rabone and Anor (Appellants) v Pennine Care Foundation Trust (Respondent) [2012] UKSC 2 [read full law report]- informal patients at potential risk of suicide require mental health profoessionals  to take appropriate care of them by carrying out suitable assessments of such risks, before the informal patient is permitted to go on home leave or is discharged. The Mental Health Act should be used where an informal patient seeks to leave the care centre where such a risk is considered to be real rather than fanciful, and is current. (Supreme Court Case, February 2012)

Fines and Imprisonment for Non-Attendance at an Inquest

In R v Duncan Lawrence Wimbledon Magistrates Court 30 October 2019a lay clinical lead of a mental health care organisation failed to attend an inquest in person or by way of videoconference. The coroner fined Mr Lawrence £650. The case was also referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, who brought a prosecution. Mr Lawrence was imprisoned for four months for failure to provide oral and documentary evidence to an inquest. The inquest had found that neglect had contributed to a mentally unwell resident’s death.

Inquest Verdicts Are Admissible in GMC/MPT Proceedings

In Dr Towuaghantse v General Medical Council (Rev 2) [2021] EWHC 681 (Admin) the High Court held that inquest verdicts are admissible in tribunal proceedings that are inquisitorial (which fitness to practise cases are deemed to be), including a coroner’s narrative verdict. Such evidence is to be treated as evidence in a case like any other evidence. The appeal judge held (para 34), referring to passages of another judgement, that:

 … It confirms that the relevancy principle does not apply to inquisitorial regulatory proceedings. The Coroner’s narrative conclusion in this case was thus plainly admissible, and was rightly admitted. It was weighed with all the other evidence in determining the facts. But the MTP must not have made unfair use of the Coroner’s narrative conclusion. Were it to have done so, then its decision would be appealable…

(March 2021)

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Doctors Defence Service represents doctors at inquests into patient deaths in both general and psychiatric hospitals, in the community and in other care settings where a duty of care or Article 2 responsibilities applied. For more information, call 0800 10 88 739