WIN A BOTTLE

The Lawyer is awarding a fine bottle of Jameson's smooth whiskey for the best letter published on this page each week. The winner is marked by the picture of a bottle of Jameson's.

You carried an article in the 24 January issue of The Lawyer about NHS Trust legal panels.

Some of the information that the contributor gave was a little misleading and as we are a firm that has been closely following the developments of the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) I thought I would write and put a more balanced view forward.

We act for over 40 NHS trusts throughout the country. Our trust clients take great interest in the solicitors they use.

The CNST, which is proposed by the Department of Health and the management executive of the department, envisages a scheme potentially owned by the trusts that take part in it. The trusts will make the rules about what can and cannot be done in the scheme.

At the moment it is envisaged that two panels of lawyers will be appointed to deal with claims of medical negligence made against NHS trusts.

One panel will be a general panel and at a seminar for NHS managers in Milton Keynes on 23 January, Chris Timmins of the Department of Health made it quite clear that he anticipated that all the lawyers throughout the country currently used by NHS trusts would probably be eligible to join the general panel.

A more specialist panel used to dealing with high value and complex claims will also be formed and although the details have to be worked out it is anticipated that the NHS Management Executive will adopt the same kind of formula which was instrumental in the setting up of the Law Society Plaintiff Medical Negligence Panel.

Because of other commitments it is unlikely that the panel will be in place for at least another 12 months and invitations to join the panel are unlikely to be circulated before the autumn.

Stephen King, Mills & Reeve, DX 5210 Norwich