Robert Francis QC has practised as a barrister since 1973 and is a specialist in medical legal issues including clinical negligence claims, in which he acts for both claimants and defendants. He has extensive experience of medically related inquiries, having appeared as a barrister at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry, the Royal Liverpool Children’s Inquiry, and the Neale Inquiry. He has also chaired three homicide inquiries into the care and treatment of mentally disordered patients: Michael Stone in Kent; Peter Bryan and Richard Loudwell in Broadmoor Hospital; and Glaister Earle Butler in Birmingham.
Appearing frequently for doctors before the ‘fitness to practise panels’ of the General Medical Council, Robert often deals with cases raising difficult ethical issues in medical treatment, such as the withdrawal of nutrition from patients in a permanent vegetative state and professional disciplinary and regulatory cases.
Robert Francis QC chaired the Independent Inquiry into care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009, which reported on 24 February 2009. He has been asked by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP, to chair this subsequent Public Inquiry into the role of the commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies in the monitoring of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Tom Kark, of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers, was called to the Bar in 1982. He was appointed Recorder of the Crown Court in 2000 and Queen's Counsel in 2010. His practice over the past ten years has increasingly focused on medical regulation.
Regularly instructed in professional disciplinary cases he has considerable experience in the healthcare tribunals, and has appeared in both solicitors' and police officers' disciplinary hearings.
Peter Watkin Jones, of Eversheds, has led teams on a number of public inquiries conducted in the UK, including Dame Janet Smith's Shipman Inquiry, Lord Saville's Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Sir Michael Moreland's Rosemary Nelson Inquiry and the Children's Commissioner for Wales Inquiry.
Peter has a detailed knowledge of the healthcare sector and has been Client Partner leading a team of lawyers preparing cases for the General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Committees for the last 6 years.
Alan Robson is a Senior Civil Servant seconded to the Inquiry from the Department of Health. He has worked in the health service throughout his career at local, regional and for the last 10 years at a national level with the Department of Health. Whilst at the Department of Health he has led on a wide range of policies and over the last 2 years has been a Deputy Director and Branch Head for Elective Care and Diagnostics.
On 15 October 2010, the Chairman appointed four assessors, specifically chosen for their experience and knowledge in key areas of interest for the Inquiry, both within the NHS and other fields. Individual assessors may be asked by the Chairman to attend hearings, or parts of hearings, prepare reports or provide advice on any matter relevant to the Inquiry.
On 22 November 2012, the Chairman appointed four additional assessors, to assist him in reviewing his proposed final recommendations.