In order to reduce overheads and thereby keep fees to a reasonable and competitive level, Forrest MLS operates a ‘paperless’ process. All communication is by email; we require documents to be provided to us in electronic form. We do not have offices; staff and member clinicians work remotely and clinicians hire consulting rooms from time to time as required.
Once we have accepted a referral and carried out the examination, provided we have been supplied with all necessary instructions and papers in good time, we undertake to supply reports not later than five weeks after the examination. In particular circumstances we are able to undertake reports within a much shorter timeframe. Time estimates are always provided on a case by case basis; legal practitioners should bring any real urgency to our immediate notice.
We believe that production of a thorough and objective report requires that the clinician:
- Reads all relevant documentation (in asylum cases: any or all of screening, asylum interview, witness statement, refusal of claim, appeal determination, medical notes, rule 35 reports etc., depending upon the stage each case has reached). This can take 1-3 hours depending on the complexity of the case
- Examines the client with the assistance of an interpreter, if needed (1.5-4 hours)
- Writes the report (4-6 hours or more, if complex)
- Reviews – subjects the report to internal review and clarify as indicated (2 hours or more)
And in some cases:
- Responds – notwithstanding the provision of a fully effective medico-legal report, Home Office caseworkers and the courts may raise issues which require medically reasoned responses
- Attends – on adequate notice, we are sometimes able to:
- attend court or
- visit Immigration Removal Centres, HM Prisons, and other custodial facilities.
Separately, and in no way at odds with our duties to the courts (in terms of expertise and objectivity), our clinicians have other, clinical duties (as defined by the General Medical Council) which may need to be addressed from time to time. For example, where we recognise a health risk to the examinee or the public. In these circumstances (although we are not the treating clinician), we will comply with our clinical duties to signpost NHS care. However, Forrest MLS report writers (in keeping with their role as expert rather than professional witnesses) cannot and do not: prescribe medication, provide treatment, or undertake specialist investigations.