Hudgell Solicitors has appointed experienced registered midwife and former NHS incident investigator Theresa Greenwood to further enhance its in-house medical expertise when handling serious clinical negligence claims.
Mrs Greenwood, a registered hospital and community midwife since 2009, brings not only experience of working within the health sector as a midwife but also in investigating maternal and neonatal incidents for the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB).
She has also worked as Governance and Risk Manager for Lancashire Teaching Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, where she managed radiology, theatres, critical care, pathology and pharmacy department incident investigations.
Most recently she worked for the NHS in a temporary role to clear a backlog of mortality reports for children and adults with learning difficulties, and last year, at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, returned to maternity delivering babies.
In her role at Hudgell Solicitors she will provide chronologies and clinical advisory services for the firm, a role similar to that she previously held with Slater and Gordon.
Experience will ‘add an extra layer of expertise and understanding of cases’
Managing Director Amanda Stevens, who manages the firm’s pagination team across the business, says Mrs Greenwood will be an invaluable addition.
“We are delighted to have added the experience of Theresa to our national pagination and clinical advisory services team as she brings another layer of expertise and understanding to what we do in terms of assessing and pursuing clinical negligence claims,” said Mrs Stevens.
“We have a very experienced team of specialist clinical negligence solicitors representing people nationwide, who of course have extensive legal knowledge with regards to such claims.
“However, the work they undertake is often complex and challenging, no two cases are the same and not only is it a challenging job to assess the medical evidence and legal context, but it is also very difficult from a logistical point of view given the amount of paperwork and records involved.
“Theresa brings expertise which will help streamline the process and bring an extra layer of expertise and understanding, right from the initial assessment of a potential case to considering what kind of medical experts we need to seek independent opinion from.
“Ultimately, her input will bring benefits not only to our legal teams and their clients, but through the entire legal process including expert witnesses, defendant teams and judges too as she will help our lawyers ensure every required question has been raised and investigated at the earliest possible stage.
“Her experience of investigating serious incidents within the NHS, particularly with regards to the work she did with regards maternity incidents including deaths and birth injuries, will also be of significant benefit to us given the large amount of work we do related to lifelong injuries suffered at birth.”
Career working for NHS, and investigating failures, has been focussed on improving care
Mrs Greenwood says she has found a career which has crossed both medical and legal sides of the fence rewarding and important.
“Getting medical care right and learning lessons from mistakes is of paramount importance,” she said.
“I know how hard health professionals work and how dedicated they are to providing the very best care, but when things go wrong, and those mistakes should have been prevented, people deserve to be compensated.
“When families have a child who is left with lifelong injuries due to mistakes made by health professionals at birth, they deserve the financial support to provide the round-the-clock-care and support required. There is no question with regards to that. The question is how do we stop the mistakes?
“My role at Hudgells will be to help the clinical negligence solicitors assess claims and support them in identifying the key issues and what specialist opinion is required. I’ll also prepare reports for experts which assist them in assessing the case and forming an opinion.
“A lot of the work is focussed on identifying the relevant medical records, from what is usually a huge amount of paperwork, putting them into chronological order and discussing and identifying with solicitors the key medical issues arising.
“I can have an input, from my medical background, into liability and causation and the expert witnesses who are likely to be relevant to the case. Another important aspect is highlighting missing records or anomalies to ensure they are addressed as soon as possible, and not something highlighted much later in the case by another party.
“It’s all about making our work as efficient as possible, based on medical knowledge and understanding.”
Mrs Greenwood says she has always worked from a perspective of learning lessons, rather than seeking blame, when conducting investigations into medical care.
“When I worked for the HSIB we undertook training by the Aircraft Investigators (AAIB) to investigate health care incidents using the same principles of robust investigation as the AAIB. This meant a no blame approach,” she said.
“The aim was to improve maternity safety without blaming individuals. It is how you get greater transparency and identify true ways to improve.”
Hudgells’ clinical negligence teams are also being supported by experienced Medico-Legal Advisor Christopher John Hockaday, a former Occupational Health Nurse who had for a number of years advised clinical negligence lawyers at HH Legal, a team acquired by Hudgells in November of last year, and by Emma Thompson who is an experienced clinical records paginator.
Mrs Stevens, a former hospital manager herself, added: “Working collaboratively the team is enhancing our overall client offering and is a really exciting development we have been working to get over the line for a while now. I wish them all the best of success as they bed in together and help to improve our customer journey.