The advantages of having a nurse in your clinical negligence team

Posted by Samantha Ward on

Who are BL Claims Solicitors

BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.

We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset

Samantha Ward is a Nurse Advisor in our Clinical Negligence team. She discusses her role and how her knowledge and expertise benefits our clients. 

I have worked in the clinical negligence team at BL Claims Solicitors since November 2010 and my nurse colleague, Jacqui O'Rourke and I often encounter surprise when we are asked what we do for a living. 

Friends and acquaintances still working in the health services are inquisitive and genuinely interested about the nature of our work and when I've met other clinical negligence and personal injury lawyers at networking conferences and training days more often than not they express how useful they would find it to have a medical adviser 'on tap'.  In the last seven years I have only met one or two other nurses working in similar roles to mine in other law firms.

One of the main parts of my role is to take initial enquiries over the telephone from potential clients; people who wish to pursue a claim for alleged clinical negligence.  Often, it is difficult for them to express exactly what they believe went wrong and this is where talking to a nurse really helps.  Unfortunately, communication with the health services can sometimes be less than effective; I often find that clients have difficulty describing exactly what happened because things were not explained in a way they could understand in the first place. 

Having worked in the NHS for over 15 years in general and emergency medicine and critical care, I have a good understanding of what goes on and can often clarify the situation quite quickly; both to help the client understand what happened and why and also to ascertain whether any negligence is likely to have occurred.  Clients often find talking to a nurse rather than a solicitor less intimidating and I think, as a medical professional, I am well placed to pick out the relevant information; if you are trying to explain something you don't fully understand to a non-medical professional who also may not be familiar with the medical terminology it can be frustrating, to say the least. 

A number of clients whose cases involve complicated medical issues have said how refreshing it has been to speak to someone who has an understanding of what they have been through.  Having gained a good grasp of the situation I am able to accurately relay the case to my legal colleagues.

Another major part of my role is sorting and indexing medical records and preparing detailed chronologies of the relevant medical issues.  Again, my background comes in very useful.  I am able to pick out the important issues and, nine times out of ten, decipher the medical abbreviations and handwriting in the records. Once I have reviewed the records in detail I am very familiar with the case and am well placed to summarise the position of the claim at that point. 

Sometimes, additional aspects of the case may have come to light as I reviewed the records that were not clear previously and I can advise the solicitor dealing with the case about further allegations they may wish to investigate.  Alternatively, sometimes it may become clear that the records do not support a claim and identifying this at an early stage can help manage client expectations.

Rather than feeling like I have abandoned my nursing career I feel I have gained additional skills which means I can continue to act as an advocate for clients.  I remain on the NMC register of nurses and midwives and have recently undergone the re-validation process which involves analysing my practice and how it benefits my area of work. 

I have learnt a lot about the legal processes involved in clinical negligence claims and, as well as the main bulk of my role described above, will often be involved in preparing instructions to medical experts, taking detailed statements from clients and preparing Letters of Claim, which outline our allegations to the Defendant healthcare provider, in cases that fall within my areas of clinical experience.

I continue to enjoy the challenges of the direction my nursing career has taken me and feel fortunate to be able to work within the Medico-Legal setting.

BL Claims Solicitors are here to help

If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk

About the Author

Photograph of Samantha Ward

Sam is a Registered Nurse with 17 years' experience working in the NHS. She uses her medical and nursing knowledge and experience to liaise with clients.

Samantha Ward
Email Samantha
023 8085 7119

View profile