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Evaluation of the 'Alternative Commissioning of Experts Pilot' Pilot’

Tucker, Jason, Moorhead, Richard Lewis and Doughty, Julie ORCID: 2011. Evaluation of the 'Alternative Commissioning of Experts Pilot' Pilot’. [Project Report]. Cardiff: Cardiff University. Available at:

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This project evaluated a pilot engaging six multi-disciplinary teams commissioned by the Legal Services Commission to provide expert witness services in proceedings under section 31 Children Act 1989. Pilot teams did not attract large numbers of cases, with two teams undertaking no cases under the pilot. Lack of awareness of the pilot, the duration of the pilot and concerns (particularly amongst lawyers) about the implications of team-based expert witness services all inhibited take-up. Judicial leadership assisted take-up. Requiring the pilot teams to only accept cases which required multi-disciplinary input also had a negative impact on referrals. The concept of multi-disciplinary working was highly regarded by clinicians, children‟s guardians, lawyers, judges and local authorities. The quality assurance provided through mutual support, the capacity of teams to identify the need for additional assessments (and also to resource those assessments), and the ability of teams to make informed recommendations about care planning specific to local resources, were all highly valued. Proper evaluation of the true costs of the expert witness services provided by multi-disciplinary teams was not possible given the number of cases, but participants generally reported the potential for improved value for money and reduced cost to the legal and care systems overall. The take-up under the pilot raises issues regarding the viability of multi-disciplinary teams. Resourcing such teams, and ensuring that they have the necessary capacity to provide expert witness services, requires more detailed planning and discussion with clinicians and their employers to establish whether (and in what form) teams are viable and able to contribute significantly to capacity within the system. This is likely to be a matter of financial incentives as well as persuading NHS providers that such work is consonant with the values of the NHS. In particular, ensuring expert reports are of high quality and delivered expeditiously is central not only to the legal system but to the well-being (and in some cases safety) of the parties. The NHS is also required to take a more active role in the provision of health expert witnesses in line with its duty under the Children Act 2004 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 April 2017
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 07:45

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