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Surgery and the law - Newcastle

Start 9:00 AM
End 5:00 PM
The Assembly Rooms
Fenkle Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
View in Google Maps
  • *Free for members and fellows (£20 refundable deposit), £50 for non-members
  • Lunch provided
*Free for members and fellows (£20 refundable deposit), £50 for non-members
Lunch provided

Event overview

*Free regional event

What the law and surgery means to you? 

Being aware of how the legal systems govern principles in your surgical profession can be a huge benefit. With the rising number of claims against doctors, understanding implications could not be more important now more than ever. 

How will I benefit? 

This one-day event will focus on all elements of Surgery and the law from both sides of the bar. 

You will receive insight into a number of legal issues to help you prepare if the worst happens, how to prevent harm and safeguard patients and support colleagues as well as developing an understanding of how to be an expert witness and how legal systems work. The RCS is here to ensure you are supported for safer surgery.

Join us to hear first-hand insight from surgeons, coroners and patients on how to work safely within the law.

There will be informative sessions on:

  • legal systems;
  • what the regulators are doing;
  • a view from the top and a patients perspective.

For further details of the day have a look at our current programme.

Who should attend?

This conference is aimed at all career grades, specialties and SAS surgeons.

If you are interested in hearing more on clinical and criminal negligence and how to be prepared for what to do if the worst happens, then come along to receive support and practical advice from an amazing range of speakers.


If you have any questions or queries regarding the day, please do not hesitate to contact us on



Derek Alderson became the President of the RCS in July 2017. He is Emeritus Professor of Surgery at the University of Birmingham and a visiting Professor at the University of Newcastle. Professor Alderson’s main area of clinical interest is oesophagogastric surgery. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the BJS Open. Professor Alderson is committed to improving surgical standards at all levels through education, research and clinical performance. 

Peter Davis is the RCS Regional Director for the North East. He qualified from Trinity Hall, Cambridge University in 1989 and trained in general and upper gastrointestinal surgery at; St Mary’s, Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Royal Marsden and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals. In 1996, Peter was the Cholmeley research fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons, undertaking his research at Imperial College School of Medicine. He has undertaken fellowships in Tokyo, Japan, Hong Kong and is an oesophogo-gastric cancer specialist.

David Sellu qualified in Medicine from Manchester and held posts as consultant surgeon in Oman and as senior lecturer in surgery at Hammersmith Hospital in London. He then transferred to the NHS as a consultant general and colorectal surgeon and did private work at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow. David has published a riveting account of his life events in a memoir entitled ‘Did He Save Lives? A Surgeon’s Story’. 

Ralph Tomlinson works with doctors and healthcare organisations to assist them to respond to performance concerns and assure patient safety. From 2011-2015 he headed up the Royal College of Surgeons’ Invited Review Mechanism (IRM), which offers a high quality and expert response to concerns about the safety of the practice of individual surgeons or surgical teams. In November 2015, Ralph was appointed Assistant Director, Professional Standards and is currently Acting Director, Professional and Clinical Standards. 

Neil Mortensen is Professor of colorectal surgery at the University of Oxford Medical School and has been on the staff of the Oxford University Hospitals since 1987. He has clinical and research interests in a wide range of colorectal diseases and has published hundreds of original papers, thirty book chapters and has edited eight books. He is Past Chair of the British Journal of Surgery Society, and has been Past President of the Association of Coloproctology and the Coloproctology Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. 

Chris Shaw has been a consultant in orthopaedic and trauma surgery in Hull for twenty two years. His involvement in medical management began in 2006 as lead for orthopaedics. He steadily took on wider roles, until five years ago when he became Joint Medical Director for Surgery. He is a part of the Surgery Health Group, which covers most of the surgical specialties together with anaesthetics, critical care and theatres - they manage over two thousand staff, one hundred and fifty of whom are consultants.

Rachel Woodall is the GMC Principal Regional Liaison Adviser for the North of England. She is a solicitor who previously worked in defending clinical negligence claims brought against the NHS, as well as advising on general medico-legal queries and representing staff at coroners’ inquests. Rachel moved to the GMC Legal team in Manchester specialising in fitness to practise, and later became a Regional Liaison Adviser working with; doctors, medical students and others to engage around the GMC. More information on the local liaison services of the GMC can be found at: 

Leslie Hamilton trained in Belfast, Leeds, Great Ormond Street and worked in Newcastle. He retired early as a cardiac surgeon, largely because of the pressure of the transplant rota. His main interest is in the interaction between clinical practice and the law as he has always felt that doctors should have a better understanding of medical law. This lead him to undertake an LLM in Medical Law. He is on the Faculty of the RCS’s “Legal Aspects of Surgical Practice” course and was part of the team who wrote ‘Good Surgical Practice’, the RCS’s guidance on Duty of Candour and the guidance on Consent after the Montgomery case. 

Nicci Iacovou has had extensive experience working within and with the NHS through management, research and consultancy with a reputation for high quality staff training and development. Her professional and personal NHS experiences, have developed her strong belief in active, appropriately informed patient and carer participation before, during and after surgery. She is also interested in the communication lines between surgeons and other staff.

Ian Eardley has been a consultant urologist in Leeds since 1993 specialising in andrology, reconstruction of the urinary tract and genital surgery. He has over two hundred peer review publications and chapters along with editing and writing eight textbooks in various aspects of urology. He has served as Director of the British Association of Urological Surgeons education office, President of the European Society for Sexual Medicine, Chairman of the Joint Committee for Surgical Training and was Vice President of the RCS until July 2018. He is the current Chairman of the Medical Protection Society and in 2014 the British Association of Urological Surgeons awarded Ian the St Peter’s medal for his contributions to Urology.

For further details of the day have a look at our current programme.

Post Event Information

A range of perspectives were highlighted at our surgery and the law conference in Newcastle at the end of 2019, but the key message from David Sellu was that the way patient safety is perceived in the law is deeply flawed. Sellu, a consultant surgeon, spoke from experience. In 2010, he was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a patient died in his care. After 15 months in jail, he appealed and was acquitted.

He was convinced that the lack of proper procedures to prepare the medical expert witness in his trial contributed to his conviction. And that the odds were stacked against him in a healthcare and a judicial system that were institutionally racist. Speaking passionately about the need for greater guidance to train surgeons to take the witness stand, he welcomed the RCS’s publication of a new good practice guide on this area.

Introducing the new guidance, Prof. Neil Mortensen, RCS Vice President, and Ralph Tomlinson, Director of Quality Improvement at the RCS, said the aim was to improve the competence of surgeons as expert witnesses so that both the public and the medical profession can benefit. At a time of continuing rise in medico-legal claims, the summary of good practice has been heavily requested by RCS members and the wider surgical community.

Also on the day, the RCS Council gathered for a presentation by Derek Winter, the deputy chief coroner of England and Wales. He explained the duties of the chief coroner to set national standards for all coroners, and to provide support and training. Highlighting recent changes to regulation, he also noted that a registered medical practitioner must notify the senior coroner in their area of a person’s death if they come to know of the death and in certain types of cases.

Please see below the links to the speakers slides:

David Sellu - The Surgeon, the law and patient safety: a personal journey

Ralph Tomlinson - Managing problems with surgical practice, RCS support

Chris Shaw - What is professionalism? Perspective of the medical manager

Leslie Hamilton - When the worst happens: what is 'Gross negligence'?

Ian Eardley - Supporting surgeons: the role of the defence unions

Neil Mortensen - The importance of being an expert witness

Booking Options

Bookings for the day have now closed but if you are still interested in attending the day, do let us know on and come along on the day to register. 


*Free for RCS fellows and members. A £20 refundable deposit is required to secure your place, this will only be refunded once attended (this is not an intercollegiate benefit).

Please note we operate a one week cancellation policy and all refunds are liable to Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.
£50 for non-members

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