Carson McDowell’s Healthcare Team has unrivalled knowledge and experience of this sector in Northern Ireland. The team advises medical defence organisations, insurers, healthcare practitioners, private clinics, pharmacists, optometrists and care homes.

In addition to defending clinical negligence/medical malpractice claims on behalf of practitioners from across the spectrum of health related disciplines, the Healthcare Team includes three lawyers who are dedicated to defending healthcare professionals in regulatory and disciplinary matters. We have represented the needs of healthcare clients at a range of high profile Inquests and Inquiries, including the Vale of Leven Hospital and the Hyponatraemia Inquiries.

We pride ourselves on adopting a practical and proactive response to the legal problems faced by our clients. In achieving this, we recognise the need for a rapid response. This comes to the fore for many of our clients when facing complaints or enforcement action by regulatory bodies, such as the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

We also deal with ethical issues and advice on policy and procedure. Our experience allows us to fully understand and assist with the complex issues surrounding information governance with experience in data protection and freedom of information issues.

The team is the largest Healthcare Team in NI and comprises twelve lawyers specialising exclusively in healthcare law.

What We Do

We help and support healthcare professionals in the following ways:

  • Management and defence of clinical negligence/medical malpractice claims on behalf of their medical defence organisations and insurers
  • Representation before the General Medical Council, General Dental Council and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation in disciplinary proceedings brought by employers
  • Advice in relation to enforcement action by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and registration issues
  • Advice on issues in relation to the Primary Medical Services Performers List
  • Advising in relation to proceedings by the Regional Professional Panel of the Health & Social Care Board
  • Assisting with investigations by the Commissioner of Complaints for Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation at Inquests
  • Advice in relation to data protection and confidentiality of patient information
  • Training on a range of medico-legal issues
  • Reviewing policies and procedures and advising on legal position and Departmental Guidance and Circulars specific to Northern Ireland
  • Advice/representation at Public Inquiries across the United Kingdom
  • Advice on Mental Health practice and procedure in Northern Ireland
  • Public law advice and judicial review proceedings

What Others Say About Us

Chambers and Partners UK 2018

Clinical Negligence (Band one)

What the team is known for Premier practice led by a well-resourced team, adept at defending high-value clinical negligence claims. Provides legal services to clients in the healthcare sector, including those in the medical, dental and pharmacological industries. Routinely represents prominent defence and protection organisations, as well as indemnity organisations.

Strengths One client lauds the team's reliability and "excellent client service," stating that "thorough, considered, timely and pragmatic advice is always provided."

Another source is equally fond of the department's diligence, and appreciates its "clear understanding of Northern Ireland claims work and ability to explain it sufficiently to allow clear instructions to be given."

Significant clients Medical Protection Society, Dental Protection, Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, National Pharmaceutical Association, Association of Optometrists.

Notable practitioners

Roger McMillan receives a raft of praise for his adeptness in defending clinical negligence claims. One source notes: "He identifies the end goal at the very outset of each case and consistently provides solid, measured advice in very clear terms." He receives a regular flow of instructions on failure to diagnose and GP negligence cases.

Clare Bates is best known for her expertise in defending high-value dental negligence claims. Clients deem her "experienced, pleasant to work with and knowledgeable."

Interviewees comment that Jacqueline McAleese "provides very thorough, measured and commercially astute advice with a view to securing the best outcome as early as possible." She handles a variety of clinical negligence claims for major defendant clients, including those concerning delayed diagnosis and surgical negligence.

Claire Harmer is well regarded by market commentators for her handling of clinical negligence claims on behalf of large medical defence organisations. Regarded as "a skilful negotiator who consistently secures great results for her clients," she regularly advises on failure to diagnose cases.

Professional Discipline: NI Wide (Band one)

What the team is known for Experienced team of professional discipline specialists regularly representing clinicians involved in complex regulatory matters. Acts for the full range of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses and opticians. Accomplished in matters relating to claims of drug mishandling, hospice care and sexual misconduct.

Strengths Sources say that "this firm is undoubtedly the best firm currently out there acting on behalf of medical and dental practitioners," and that "they are excellent in their knowledge and use of the law."

Clients state: "The team has an innovative approach and is a market leader."

Significant clients Medical Protection Society, Dental Protection, Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.

Notable practitioners

Roger McMillan is head of the healthcare team and is experienced in high-profile matters relating to medical misconduct allegations. Sources note that he is "a first-class communicator" who is a "superb tactician and brilliant lawyer who builds an excellent rapport with clients and achieves outstanding results."

Head of the regulatory department Leigh Linton advises medical professionals on a full range of disciplinary matters. Sources describe her as "an astute tactician who works harder than any other solicitor to serve her clients' needs."

The Legal 500 2016

What the team is known for

Respected team of practitioners frequently handling healthcare regulatory matters. Frequently acts for medical professionals at all stages of proceedings, ranging from interim to substantive hearings.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"They provide an across-the-board service on regulatory and disciplinary advice and ombudsman cases - top-notch service."

"They're excellent at client management and very good at keeping us up to date. Always a pleasure to work with."

Notable practitioners

Leigh Linton is singled out for her "absolutely terrific knowledge of the legal aspects of medicine" and her "attention to detail which is second to none." She regularly defends healthcare professionals.

Roger McMillan is described as "an individual of remarkable tenacity and vigour who really gets his teeth into things." Other sources remark upon his "encyclopaedic knowledge of the health system in Northern Ireland."

Chambers and Partners UK 2017

Clinical Negligence (Band 1)

What the team is known for

Highly esteemed firm with an impressive track record for handling a range of high-profile cases. Well equipped to act for defendant clients on medical, dental and healthcare matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"It's great to have them involved because you know you're going to get excellent service and the matter will be handled well."

"They are exceptional. They have an excellent understanding of this area; they're first-class."

Notable practitioners

Head of department Roger McMillan is "a great strategic thinker," according to peers. Clients describe him as "supportive and readily available," as well as "extremely hard-working and thorough."

Clare Bates continues to be commended for her work on dental claims. Sources highlight her expertise as a litigator, and describe her as "very efficient and well informed."

Jacqueline McAleese is respected for her expertise in this field. Peers report that they"think highly of her," owing to the fact that "she's very sensible" when acting on complex cases.

Sources attest that Claire Harmer is "very competent" at handling a variety of clinical

Professional Discipline

What the team is known for

Represents a range of healthcare professionals in professional discipline matters, including pharmacists and dentists. Regularly acts for practitioners on a private basis and following instructions from indemnity organisations.

Notable practitioners

Leigh Linton is called upon to represent doctors and dentists in disciplinary cases. Clients appreciate her calm organisation.

Roger McMillan heads the firm's healthcare team and is regularly instructed by professional indemnity organisations to defend healthcare practitioners in disciplinary matters.

Significant clients

Medical Protection Society, Dental Protection, Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.