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Advising health professionals about commercial contracts is both challenging and satisfying
Tom Gummer, solicitor, Capsticks
Mention healthcare law and most people think of botched surgery and claims for compensation. The reality is far more diverse.
My experience has been more of patient transport procurement challenges and commercial contract disputes than dodgy doctors.
As a newly qualified lawyer in Capsticks’ commercial litigation team, I enjoy a great breadth of work that exposes me to the more commercial side of healthcare.
Our team is responsible for assisting a large healthcare, social care and social housing sector client base with various types of dispute that arise out of the commercial arrangements that underpin the functioning of the public and private health and social care sectors.
The types of work we handle include: assisting clients with largescale procurement challenges; assisting with the recovery of monies obtained by fraud, including obtaining freezing injunctions; advising on defamation of healthcare professionals, often via social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter; advising on provider/commissioner disputes; and advising on intellectual property disputes and competition law investigations.
Recently we have been assisting a large NHS trust on a dispute that has arisen out of a multimillion-pound contract with a private cleaning and portering provider.
The prompt collection and correct disposal of hazardous medical waste is essential to the functioning of a large hospital and when a provider fails to meet the standards required, action must be taken.
With the involvement of junior counsel, we advised the client on the risks and practicalities associated with terminating the contract, particularly given its value and the client’s ongoing relationship with the private provider in respect of other services.
We have since successfully guided the dispute towards a formal mediation. This matter reiterated to me the importance of providing clients with prag-matic commercial guidance as well as legal advice.
The work handled by our team is varied and exciting. It also provides a huge sense of satisfaction, particularly when assisting with the resolution of disputes that could impact on the functionality of health and social care services.