New head of legal services at the MDU

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The MDU has appointed Joanne Bateman as its first new head of medico- and dento-legal services for over 20-years

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has appointed a new head of legal services to oversee its team of solicitors. Joanne Bateman succeeds Charles Dewhurst, who stepped down from the role at the end of last year after more than 20 years in the job.

The MDU’s in-house legal department, which supports dentists and doctors facing negligence claims, complaints to the GDC, GMC and criminal investigations, was first established by Charles in 1993. His original team of two solicitors has now grown to 30 lawyers and 12 support staff.

Charles said, “The dento- and medico-legal environments have changed significantly during my 22-years as head of department. In the early years, most of our work was in dealing with clinical negligence claims but with the increased number of GDC and GMC investigations, we now spend more time supporting members with regulatory investigations.

“This is partly due to the special expertise needed to deal with these investigations along with the importance to our members of such cases when their career may be in the balance. We have developed a skillset to enable all our members’ needs to be met.

“We now train our own solicitors and my proudest achievement is the quality of the team we’ve established and their devotion to providing not just legal but moral support to dental professionals and doctors at such a difficult time.”

Dento- and medico-legal minefield

Charles, who will continue to work for the MDU part-time handling cases on behalf of dental professionals and doctors, added, “I am pleased to be handing over to Joanne. She has the same commitment to guiding members through the dento- and medico-legal minefield which most members will have to tread at some stage during their career.”

Joanne, who took up her new role at the start of 2016, first joined the MDU in 2000 after four years working for a claimants’ law firm.

She told us, “It is a great privilege to be taking over from Charles who has overseen a significant expansion of the in-house legal team. I don’t anticipate the dento- or medico-legal environment becoming any less complex for our members over the coming years and it is vital for our members to have access to an appropriately skilled legal team.

“My aim is to honour Charles’s legacy by continuing to develop the professional expertise of our solicitors and to maintain our exceptional record of success in assisting members.”

The DDU, the specialist dental division of the MDU, is a not-for-profit organisation wholly dedicated to its members’ interests. Its team is led and staffed by dentists with real-life experience of the pressures and challenges faced in practice.

It offers its members expert guidance, personal support and robust defence in addressing dento-legal issues, complaints and claims. Its services range from legal assistance to indemnity to appropriate CPD.
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