CMO bid to regulate all expert witnesses

Expert witnesses should be locally controlled and provided by accredited specialist groups within NHS trusts, according to proposals from the CMO Sir Liam Donaldson.

His report recommends an overhaul of the expert witness system and makes 16 proposals, which would need an entirely new body to oversee their work.
Teams of specialists and other professionals in local NHS organisations would group together ‘to improve the quality of the service by introducing mentoring, supervision and peer review, backed up by a new National Knowledge Service to support the medical expert witness programme’ the report proposes.

It also suggests a checklist to be used by the legal profession ‘to establish the credentials of prospective medical expert witnesses’.
It is hoped that these measures would avoid individual bias, and ‘address difficulties in maintaining an adequate supply of medical expert witnesses’.
Sir Liam said: ‘It has become increasingly difficult for courts to find doctors willing to come forward as expert witnesses.’

The report, Bearing Good Witness: Proposals for reforming the delivery of medical expert evidence in family law case, is out to consultation until 28 February 2007.

CMO proposals

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