As an emergency and intensive care nurse, manager of emergency and trauma services, and a delegate working for the International Red Cross in conflict and natural disaster situations, Wendy loved working in high pressure, complex clinical and administrative situations, supporting colleagues, and ensuring patients and their families received the best care possible in the situation.
As a Business Manager responsible for a budget of approximately 35 million dollars and over 400 employees, she worked closely with the Clinical Leader to establish and achieve key strategic and business priorities within tight fiscal constraints whilst striving to improve health services and collaboration with other providers. Working as a clinician and manager in the health sector, Wendy experienced many situations that involved complicated legal and ethical issues. This led to her interest in the law and how the law could assist with complex medico-legal issues. During this period she completed degrees in commerce and law.
As a lawyer, Wendy has been seconded to tertiary and secondary District Health Boards, as in-house legal counsel. The combination of this coalface legal experience, and her broader background in health, means that she has a thorough understanding of the legal and practical issues managers and clinicians face in their day-to-day work, and she understands what managers and clinicians need from their legal advisors. She continually strives to assist clients find the best possible common sense solution to their legal issues, by providing advice that is pragmatic, easily understood, and that sets out the legal options in a straightforward and concise manner.
Wendy’s practice primarily focuses on advising District Health Boards, private hospitals, and other providers on medico-legal issues, including consent, substitute decision-making, mental health and elder care, privacy and sharing of information, refusal of treatment, and other matters relating to patients’ rights. She also routinely assists senior managers and clinicians in managing concerns about health practitioners’ competence or fitness to practise, managing requests for information, and how to meet public sector accountability obligations.
Wendy says “I particularly enjoy developing strong relationships with clients and sharing knowledge through interactive workshops, using case examples and discussion, to help clients develop their legal knowledge and understanding so that they can incorporate these skills into their everyday strategies and decision-making.”
Prior to joining Claro, Wendy spent eight years as a lawyer in the health law and litigation teams at a large national law firm.
Wendy’s experience includes
- Representing health professionals before professional conduct committees, competence review processes and health committees.
- Providing legal “in-house” cover for in-house professional college legal counsel when on leave.
- Advising on and preparing statements for the Health and Disability Commissioner and Coroner.
- Advising on several difficult matters relating to providers working with welfare guardians and persons holding enduring power of attorney for personal care and welfare and for property, including where there is suspected financial abuse, and complex family situations.
- Advising on disclosure of information about deceased individuals including where there are conflicting requests and orders from family members and persons holding enduring power of attorney.
- Advising on legality and use of covert recording and retention of clinical photographs.
- Reviewing policies and drafting plain language policies and legal compliance checklists.
- Advising on medication management including remote prescribing and e-prescribing.
- Advising on and reviewing private provider regulations, by-laws and governance documents.
- Advising on clinical practice investigations relating to practitioners with clinical privilege arrangements in private hospitals.
- Presenting training sessions and national seminars including on assessing competence in children to consent to treatment, managing difficult situations with incompetent residents and enduring powers of attorney and welfare guardians, open disclosure requirements, and practical implications for health practitioners and providers of amendments to the Crimes Act, lessons from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Inquiry, lessons from the medico-legal coalface for nurses working in the primary health sector.
- Advising on numerous privacy and Official Information Act issues and management of privacy breaches.
- Advising on private providers offering free medical treatment as a competition prize.
- Review of private surgical providers credentialling systems and policies.
- Advice on possible guardianship orders for unborn twins where mother refused a hospital delivery for high risk pregnancy, and stated that she would refuse to allow life saving treatment for the children once born.
- Advising on medication issues/Medicines Act, including caregivers administering PRN subcutaneous medication to patient at home; accountability of registered nurses directing caregivers, and requirements/restrictions for dispensing controlled drugs; doctor prescribing menopause medication without face-to-face consultation, and nurse dispensing on-going doses; use of standing orders for repeat prescriptions; and legality of electronic signatures.
- Advising on supervision of, and delegation to, health professionals; including using unregistered workers to provide health services.
- Advice on legal obligations when provider aware of competence concerns with Lead Maternity Care midwife with access agreement, including advising on whether the DHB can impose additional access requirements, and reporting concerns to the Midwifery Council.
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