This site uses cookies.

Review of MedCo training 2019 - Dr Mark Burgin

22/10/19. This is part of a series of articles by Dr. Mark Burgin. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand.

Dr Mark Burgin reviews the quality and relevance of the continuing professional development training provided by MedCo for its registered experts.

MedCo and Bond Solon are providing training to medical experts free of charge. This training is to keep experts up to date with their work. The first modules have been released and now are available to experts. Whilst providing continuing professional development is a step forward it is important to tailor training to the professional. A one-size-fits-all approach risks using up time that could be used to fill knowledge gaps.

Understanding MedCo

This interesting module tries to explain what Medco is for and things it cannot do. A mixture of online video and written work it is clearly a subject close to the author's heart. It succeeds in establishing that it is not a regulatory body but little else. The rationale behind their major work, the audit processes, is not touched, perhaps due to time constraints. My impression was of an organization with an identity crisis. Surely Medco's role is investigation rather than punishment? The quality of presentation is higher than previous offerings and the website is straightforward to navigate. There are however striking omissions such as their role in maintaining quality of reports which should be addressed when the module is revised.

GDPR for Expert Witnesses Toolkit

This module is presented by an expert on data protection. The video format is not kind to the expert's style which is based upon asking questions. The expert does not answer the important questions such as how long should different data should be kept. The duty to retrieve data is of the highest importance to an expert's work but is not mentioned. The expert provides practical support with the documentation. A question and answer format would be more successful.

Legal Update for Expert Witnesses

The extraordinarily talented Kathryn Clague, Law Lecturer at Cardiff University brings the cases to life with clear and succinct language. The lecture was originally given at the Bond Solon conference but was so popular an extended version has been made. The cases covered included the case of Dr Zafar which has been a major talking point since the story broke in July 2019. The lecture adds significantly to the understanding of the significance of this and other cases.

Expert Report Writing

The practical session on report writing is run by a barrister with an interest in improving expert reports. The materials were designed by bond solon for inexperienced experts. The session I attended was ably facilitated but disjointed. There was one novice and four veteran experts so that the discussion varied from the simple to the complex. There was a section on note keeping during medical assessments. Oddly there is no requirement to make these notes. This gave the impression that it is better not to keep notes and typing up the report at the time is better. The trainer was passionate about improving reports but the materials distracted or confused important messages. Dealing with inconsistencies was lost in check lists. The check lists themselves repeated unimportant and omitted important issues. Much was copied and pasted from a course given to police officers. The medical expert report template would fail to comply with cpr35. Although we all brought our anonymised reports there was insufficient time to discuss them. Despite the very capable and impressive trainer almost all of the content could have been better provided as a video. A MEWA style audit of the reports prior to the session would identify problems to be discussed.

Civil Law and Procedure Rules and Civil Law and Procedure Surgery/Workshop

These two sessions (total 7 hours) have not been made available but those experts who already have completed the Cardiff Law school course are concerned. There is a risk that this will be a poor man’s version of a course which was detailed and comprehensive (and expensive). Pressure of time may lead to cut corners and consequent confusion both in content and status of the learning.

Conclusions

The lack of input from experts in the teaching materials detracts from the quality of the offerings. The common questions that experts ask were absent from the materials. This contributed to the sense that the training was cut and paste and hurried. Although the training is provided free that is not the only cost of attending (even an online course). Congratulations to Medco and Bond Solon for a step in the right direction. Focusing on practical solutions to the common problems will improve future CPD.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted for audits on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website drmarkburgin.co.uk

Image ©iStockphoto.com/vm

All information on this site was believed to be correct by the relevant authors at the time of writing. All content is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. No liability is accepted by either the publisher or the author(s) for any errors or omissions (whether negligent or not) that it may contain. 

The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

Excerpts from judgments and statutes are Crown copyright. Any Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of OPSI and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland under the Open Government Licence.