Your reputation is a critical factor in your stature as a health and social care provider, and it is also incredibly fragile. Inquests and disciplinary procedures can be incredibly damaging to your business, so ensuring that you’re prepared for any due diligence processes is essential. The purpose of an inquest is to establish facts. It is not to apportion blame and the conclusion should not use language that suggests civil or criminal liability.
However, there are conclusions that can be reached, and language used that may have a negative impact on the home or service and therefore it is important that you understand how you might be involved in the process and how you might manage it. Often health and social care providers do not realise they can participate in the proceedings, if they ask. This allows a provider to access documentation that will be used at the inquest, including the post-mortem.
Information that emerges during an inquest may also be used to support a civil or criminal claim against the business too. Any conclusions of neglect can cause serious reputational harm to a health and social care business, especially when the media take an interest. Coroners have a duty to send reports to people they think may be able to prevent deaths arising from similar circumstances in the future and a response must be provided and these reports and responses can be published.
The impact on providers is compounded by Staff and Managers who may face significant stress in the run-up to the inquest, a period that is usually several months after death, and often longer.