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Medical expert witnesses plan

NHS organisations should develop local networks of medical expert witnesses who can share knowledge and help train other clinicians in the role, a review by the Chief Medical Officer has proposed

Sir Liam Donaldson said the system of providing expert witnesses in court cases needed an overhaul to stop the drain of doctors willing to do such work.

Other proposals include a new system of accreditation for expert witnesses and new GMC guidance on the role.

The proposals, open for consultation until 28 February, were broadly welcomed by GPs who have worked as expert witnesses.

Dr Bashir Qureshi, a GP from Hounslow, London, has been an expert witness in 36 cases involving mainly cultural and religious aspects of medicine.

He said: 'I fully support this move. Sometimes I feel I'm on my own so it would be good to have other medical people to ring round.'

Dr John Waterson, a GP in Liverpool who has been an expert witness for eight years, supported extra training, but said the courses needed to be less expensive. He said: 'At the moment they cost £500 a pop and they are in London.'

To give your views: www.dh. gov.uk/consultations and e-mail a response to medcal.expert. witnesses@dh.gsi.gov.uk

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