The following article is a personal reflection on becoming an OT expert witness, by...
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RN, BSc Nursing, MA Nursing & Education, PGC Tissue Viability
I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1981 and spent the first 10 years of my career working in both full and part time positions, while bringing up a family, gaining experience in a variety of surgical and medical hospital based positions. After working as a practice nurse and hospice nurse, I undertook a Diploma in Professional Studies to gain a qualification as a District Nurse and worked as a Community Sister and Team Leader assessing, planning, providing and reviewing clinical care in the patient’s own home for the next 6 years. In 1996, at the same time as gaining a BSc (Hons) in Nursing, I joined South Downs Health NHS Trust to audit, assess and improve standards of pressure damage prevention and treatment care in a community setting.
Following this, I accepted a substantive post with the same Trust, to set up and deliver a Tissue Viability Service across community services in Brighton & Hove, and later expanding across West Sussex when two Trusts merged into Sussex Community NHS Trust. During this time, I gained further academic qualifications as per my curriculum vitae. As Nurse Consultant, my role involved managing and supervising a team of Tissue Viability Nurses; developing standards, guidelines and policies; setting up and delivering training, including modules at the University of Brighton; providing expert clinical support to a variety of community-based services and acting as a resource to ensure national guidance and policy was integrated into local service delivery. During this time, I also served as an Executive Member of the Professional Executive Committee of Brighton & Hove Primary Care Trust. I was regularly involved in the investigation of serious incidents and acted as Health Investigating Officer for safeguarding vulnerable adult cases where skin integrity was an issue. I was part of the research team for the VenUS IV randomised controlled trial into the treatment of venous leg ulcers, which involved leading the recruitment process in my local area and participating in national team meetings to report on progress.
In 2013 I left full time NHS employment in order to widen my personal and professional experience. I set up a small business offering training and consultancy. I continue to teach as a visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton. I commenced a role as registrant panel member of the Competency and Conduct Committee for Fitness to Practice hearings within the Nursing & Midwifery Council in 2016, and I have been appointed as a lay panellist on the Disciplinary Committee of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.
I have experience and expertise relating to investigation of clinical situations where standards may have fallen short of those expected, identifying areas of concern, acknowledging and reporting problems and making recommendations for resolution of immediate issues and improvement of future practice. I maintain my own clinical skills and knowledge through regular professional updating, working as a bank nurse when senior clinical expertise is required, and managing a small caseload of private patients with tissue viability needs. I accept instructions from both Claimant and Defendant Solicitors and Insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses.