Legal Services

Please click one of the links below for information on the legal services department:


The service

Key Functions

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA)

Alternative forms of redress for patients

Coroners and inquests


The service

The Legal Services Department provides a service to all staff within the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Below is some information about what we do.  We hope you find this helpful. 

If you need further information, please write to a member of the Legal Services Team:

  • Mike O'Connell, Head of Legal Services
  • Ann Stanton, Legal Services Manager

We are based at The Trust Headquarters and Education Centre, Pinderfields Hospital, Aberford Road, Wakefield, WF1 4DG.


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Our key functions

  1. Management of clinical negligence claims
  2. Management of insured claims (staff/public) (e.g. slips and trips, manual handling, bullying, and stress claims in the workplace, and personal injury claims sustained by visitors on our premises)
  3. Provision of advice, support, and education to staff on medico-legal matters including Coroner’s Inquests and other Court proceedings
  4. Liaison with the Trust’s solicitors
  5. Provision of staff support


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The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA)                       

The NHS Litigation Authority provides the following Information for Patients on bringing a claim for clinical negligence:

Under English law, an individual may be entitled to compensation if they have been injured as a result of the negligence of another person. In order for a patient to obtain financial compensation when something goes wrong in the NHS, the following criteria must be met:

  • The doctor (or other health professional caring for the patient) must have acted in a way which fell short of acceptable professional standards. The test is whether the actions of the health professional in question could be supported by a “responsible body of clinical opinion”. It will not be enough to show that other health professionals might have done something differently if a “responsible body” of health professionals would support the action taken.
  • The harm suffered by the patient must be shown, on the balance of probabilities, to be directly linked with the failure of the health professional to meet appropriate standards. If, for example, there was a good chance that the patient would have suffered the harm even if the health professional had acted differently, then the claim is unlikely to succeed.

If you believe that these two criteria are met in your case and you wish to seek financial compensation, you should seek legal advice. 

The organisation AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) can help you to consider the various options that may be open to you after suffering a medical accident and can, if you wish, put you in contact with a specialist solicitor. AvMA also offers support to patients in coming to terms with the effect that a medical accident may have had on them, whether or not clinical negligence is possibly involved.

The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) acts on behalf of NHS Trusts when claims of negligence are made against them.  In this Trust a claim of negligence will be investigated internally by the Trust in the first instance, and a decision will then be taken as to whether or not to report the claim to the NHSLA.


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Alternative forms of redress for patients     

Alternatively, you may wish to pursue alternative forms of redress. The NHS complaints system is designed to provide explanations of what happened and, where appropriate, apologies and information about action taken to ensure similar incidents do not happen again. Financial compensation will not ordinarily be available.  Please follow this link to the Trust's Patient Advice and Liaison Service.       


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Coroners and Inquests         

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust comes under the jurisdiction of two Coroners:

  1. HM Coroner for the Eastern District of West Yorkshire (Wakefield, Leeds, Pontefract and surrounding areas), based at the Coroner's Office and Court at 71 Northgate, Wakefield, WF1 3BS.  Telephone 01924 302180.
  2. HM Coroner for the Western District of West Yorkshire (Dewsbury, Bradford, Calderdale and surrounding areas), based at the Coroner's Office, City Courts, The Tyrls, Bradford, BD1 1LA.   Telephone: 01274 391362

 Who are Coroners?

Coroners are independent judicial officers in England and Wales. This means that no-one else can tell them or direct them as to what they should do, but they must follow laws and regulations that apply. Coroners are usually lawyers but may be doctors. They are appointed and paid by the local authority.

They inquire into deaths reported to them which appear to be violent, unnatural, or of sudden and unknown cause. The Coroner will seek to establish the medical cause and circumstances of a death; if the cause remains in doubt after a post mortem, an Inquest will be held.

Are all deaths reported to the Coroner?

No. In most cases a GP or hospital doctor can certify the medical cause of death and the death can be registered by the Registrar of Births and Deaths in the usual way. However, Registrars must report deaths to the Coroner in certain circumstances. For example: if a doctor cannot give a proper certificate of a cause of death; if the death occurred during an operation; if the death was due to industrial disease; or if the death was unnatural or due to violence, or in other suspicious circumstances.

Sometimes the Coroner may ask a pathologist to examine the body (a post mortem). If so, the examination must be done as soon as possible. Depending on the information he gets, the Coroner may decide either that an Inquest is not required, or that an inquest is necessary to find out the circumstances of the death.

What is an inquest?

An inquest is a fact-finding inquiry into who has died and how, when and where the death occurred, together with information needed by the Registrar of deaths, so that the death can be registered.  An inquest is not a trial;  the Coroner must not blame anyone for the death.  Inquests are open to the public, and journalists are usually present. In many cases the evidence of a witness may be vital in preventing injustice.  A witness may either be asked to attend the Inquest, or may receive a formal summons to do so.  The Coroner decides who to ask and the order in which they give evidence.   

Where can I get more information about the Coroner’s proceedings?

From your local coroner's office (see above). 

Alternatively, your local police or the Citizen's Advice Bureau will be able to tell you where the office is situated.