Healthcare has been a huge focal point and area of focus during the last 18 months, especially against the backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that has cost more than 150,000 UK lives.
At the same time, the ailing NHS is facing a significant backlog of medical negligence claims, as it continues to suffer from a lack of funding and skilled staff members in a number of areas.
With these points in mind, healthcare law will also become a widely discussed topic in the months ahead, but what role do healthcare lawyers play within this increasingly prominent niche?
What’s a Healthcare Lawyer and Who Do They Work For?
In simple terms, a healthcare lawyers will typically deal with clinical medical negligence cases that are brought by individual patients.
This process involves handling and processing such claims from beginning to end, first determining whether the patient has a viable claim and is able to demonstrate the physical or mental impact of said negligence.
From here, lawyers will handle the litigation and aim to process the case as quickly as possible, while negotiating any future compensation agreements on the behalf of their clients.
As we say, healthcare layer will typically represent either a patient who has been directly impacted by medical negligence or on behalf of their family. Similarly, they may also be engaged by carers to represent vulnerable or underage claimants, in which case claims can be bought forward historically and outside of the current three-year window.
Of course, there’s another side to being a healthcare lawyer, as entities such as the NHS, GPs and private hospitals will also hire legal assistance to occasionally contest cases that are bought forward.
Even if they don’t intend to challenge the claim in court, such entities may employ a lawyer to negotiate a viable compensation package on their behalf and hopefully help all parties achieve an amicable outcome.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Healthcare Lawyer?
If you intend to work on the patient side as a healthcare lawyer, there are a number of skills and attributes that can help you to achieve your objectives.
We’ve outlined three of the most important below, which should augment an underlying interest in healthcare and medicine. These include:
- Empathy: You’ll have to have a caring and understanding ear as a healthcare lawyer, as you’ll often deal with patients whose quality of life has been impaired by the impact of medical negligence. This way, you’ll have the patience to understand the pain and suffering experienced by your clients, while developing a steely determination to achieve the best outcome on their behalf.
- Analytical Skills: On another note, you’ll also need keen analytical skills to work in this field. The reason for this is simple; as it’s important to review the case details and documentation accurately and efficiently, in order to quickly determine whether your paying client has a viable claim to make.
- Communication and Negotiation Skills: Finally, you’ll need to well-rounded communication and hardened negotiation skills to work as a healthcare lawyer. No matter who you represent, you’ll ultimately have to negotiate a compensation settlement on behalf of your client, so being able to communicate clearly and firmly is absolutely imperative.
HR Future Staff Writer