Key Facts

The healthcare sector is all things medical professionals and practices. It is a broad sector in that it comprises the following types of healthcare professionals: 

- doctors

pharmacists 

- dentists

- vets

- optometrists

- care homes 

- chiropodists 

- podiatrists

- occupational therapists 

- orthotists

- physiotherapists / physical therapists 

- radiographers 

The healthcare profession has its own legislative framework which regulates the provision of healthcare professional 

services as well as the contractual documentation and commercial and employment issues that can arise in the profession. 

Regulatory issues in the sector

Healthcare is a highly regulated sector - think 'Care Quality Commission'. 

The Care Quality Commission is an independent regulator of health and social care in England

CQC's role: 

  • register care providers

  • monitor, inspect and rate services 

  • take action to protect people who use services 

  • speak with an independent voice on major quality issues in health and social care.

The CQC will only register a care provider (which enables the care provider to provide care services) if they satisfy a number of legal requirements and fundamental standards. Activities that the CQC regulate include treatment, care and support provided by hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, ambulance services, care homes and home-care agencies. 

What do healthcare lawyers do?

Healthcare providers are businesses and as such, their operations will largely mirror that of commercial businesses in that there'll be employment legal issues, corporate issues and day to day commercial contracts with suppliers/third parties. 

Specific healthcare legal work can include (amongst other things):

  • providing legal advice and assistance on compliance with the CQC process;

  • preparing the legal work for practice mergers and formations of companies/partnerships providing care services; 

  • drafting partnership agreements that specifically deal with healthcare arrangements; 

  • advising on professional regulation and registration (i.e. specific to the respective profession); 

  • advising and defending against claims against care providers for issues such as negligence; 

  • advising on disputes that arise amongst management/partnerships; 

  • managing/preparing legal work for commercial sales and acquisitions; 

  • drafting and negotiating leases and ownership arrangements of commercial properties and developments (such as GP surgeries/hospitals etc); 

  • advising on GP rural dispensing - NHS legislation provides that in certain rural areas (classified as controlled localities), GPs may apply to dispense NHS prescriptions - that means they can prescribe medication to a patient out of their own stock without the patient having to go to a chemist; 

  • advising and representing healthcare professionals in group litigation claims; 

  • advising on regulation and representing healthcare professionals in disciplinary hearings; 

  • insurance related private and public sectors healthcare matters; and

  • clinical trials. 

Skills required...

  • strong analytical skills (i.e. ability to analyse facts and interpret them against the law)

  • proactive attitude and practical thinker - lots of strategic planning following an potential claims

  • interest in healthcare law and keeping up to date with developments

  • research