Instructing a medical or health professional

After approval is granted for you to instruct a medical or health professional there are steps you can take to help the assessment of accounts at the end of the case.

You can view further general information to assist you in our guidance section on preventing problems at the accounts stage.

How do I know that they can provide the report I need for legal aid purposes?

There are basic details that medical professionals should be able to give you about their registration with appropriate regulatory bodies and recognition of particular specialisms they have:

  • medical professionals must be registered with the General Medical Council
  • healthcare professionals (including psychologists, occupational therapists, radiographers, physiotherapists) must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. They should also have full membership of an applied division of the British Psychological Society (that is, clinical, forensic, educational, health, counselling) where appropriate.

Asking for these details will allow you to check that the professional is appropriately registered and qualified to give the type of report you are seeking. Appropriate registration numbers are often included within quotes and invoices.

We will not pay for the report if the medical or health care professional is not appropriately registered, unless you are able to satisfy us that the expert was still a suitable choice for the case.

Do you have particular policies about which health or medical professionals can be paid for reports?

  • I will be seeking an opinion rather than a statement of facts

Our policy is that we will expect to see evidence that they are a ‘consultant’ if you are instructing a medical professional for anything other than factual information about their patient. For example that they hold “specialist registration” with the GMC in the field for which their opinion is sought.

  • I have been told that a higher trainee-specialist registrar will be providing the report

We are aware that they can provide medico–legal reports as part of their training. However you should be clear that these should always be provided under the supervision of a consultant. It is our policy that we will not pay the same rate for a report provided by such a trainee.

  • I have been told that a graduate psychologist/assistant will provide the report

It is our policy that these individuals are not qualified and we will not pay for reports carried out by them.

Will we pay if I instruct a medical professional not currently engaged in practice?

Research by other bodies suggests that the quality of reports is better from medical professionals who are engaged in practice. This is not solely limited to the provision of court reports. Professionals who have been out of practice for some time may be out of touch with current research/practices.

It would be beneficial to be clear about the extent of their ongoing work if you are instructing a professional where this may be an issue. For example give details about the extent to which psychologists/psychiatrists providing court reports have continued involvement with relevant health bodies or are able to demonstrate continued practice within the areas that they are assessing (for example, treatment provision).

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