Manchester firm goes into hospital

Manchester law firm Donns is tapping into new markets by setting up shop in a local hospital.

Donns, formerly Donn & Co, has invested £200,000 in a four-man unit after the NHS trust board at Salford's Hope Hospital invited businesses to set up there.

The unit will cater primarily for hospital staff whose working hours prevent them from visiting a solicitor. It will operate an across-the-board service including personal injury work, family work, conveyancing, wills and probate.

Senior partner Raymond Donn said he anticipated some health work but added that the firm had agreed with the trust board not to take on claims against the hospital.

The unit is currently being kitted out for a September opening. Four new staff will be recruited.

Donns expects to expand into other hospitals as the idea catches on.

Donn said the problem was getting hospitals to accept the idea. The firm set up a unit in Addenbrooks Hospital, Cambridge, six years ago, but sold it in 1993 because of the distance from Manchester.

Donn said: “Before the NHS reorganisations, health authorities were worried about law firms indulging in ambulance chasing. But the new trusts are more commercially minded. They see a law firm as a service for staff and patients like an on-site bank or Citizen's Advice Bureau.”

Rosemary Downs, partner at Rotherham health specialist Oxley & Coward, said she had never come across firms setting up in hospitals but welcomed the idea. “Hospitals are like villages in themselves these days so there is definitely a potential market there. I will be suggesting Oxleys looks into the idea.