Ms Olivia Whiteside
An online directory of more than 100,000 UK consultants and GPs has become an invaluable resource for those working in and allied to the healthcare industry. SpecialistInfo’s chief executive and consultant ENT surgeon Ms Olivia Whiteside tells its story.
SpecialistInfo originally came about from a conversation over dinner between my parents and their good friend and GP, Mike Scatchard in 1998.
He had no way of knowing the right specialist with the right interest to whom he should send his patients. With my parents’ background in editorial work, databases and IT and a daughter newly qualified as a doctor, they were well placed to gather and provide this information.
Thus SpecialistInfo was born. My parents put together a highly skilled team of editors and staff and 25 years later, the business continues to evolve and thrive.
As a family, we always discussed ideas and projects for developing the company over the years to which I could give a medical perspective.
At the same time, I continued with a busy NHS schedule and, having being appointed as a consultant ENT surgeon, also started in private practice.
2020 brought its challenges worldwide, but particularly for SpecialistInfo and me, as both my parents, who were both still heavily involved in running the company, died unexpectedly that year.
The pandemic was certainly an unprecedented, unpredictable time to take the lead, especially while continuing to work on the wards.
Fortunately, the team at SpecialistInfo are very dedicated, innovative and experienced and adapted seamlessly to the new era of online working and information provision through our courses and conferences.
As a medic, I have worked in many teams, but this one is particularly efficient and collaborative and I feel immensely proud to be a part of it.
Emma Taylor, in particular, has worked for the company for 20 years and is a truly remarkable individual. She took over as managing director and has brought fresh ideas and vigour to the company.
SpecialistInfo provides an online directory of UK and Ireland hospital consultants, UK GPs, practice managers and clinical commissioning groups.
We have information on more than 100,000 UK consultants and GPs and our directory has become an invaluable resource for those working in and allied to the healthcare industry.
The directory is updated continuously by our editorial team who liaise with the doctors, the GMC, secretaries, hospitals, NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and GP surgeries to keep abreast of new appointments, movers and leavers.
Though it was originally intended as a service for GPs to aid their referral process to consultants, the NHS has evolved and the database has developed much wider uses. Although it is still used for this process, it also helps:
- Doctors who undertake medico-legal work to promote themselves to law firms;
- Doctors interested in clinical trials and research to communicate their interest, expertise and experience to pharmaceutical, medical device and research organisations;
- The media to find experts and key opinion leaders for comments on topical issues and charities.
A key part of our business is allied to the medico-legal industry. We have the most comprehensive database of over 7,000 consultants and over 2,000 GPs with a medico-legal practice.
Doctors with a profile on our directory can provide their medico-legal CV free of charge. These can then be viewed by subscribing medico-legal agencies, solicitors and insurance companies who are looking for doctors to instruct as expert witnesses.
Faculty of Expert Witnesses
With the aim of promoting high-quality medico-legal experts to law firms, in 2011 we introduced the Faculty of Expert Witnesses. Membership is free to doctors who can become associates, members or fellows of the faculty.
Fellows agree to undertake refresher training every three years, agree and adhere to a code of good practice and must have satisfied SpecialistInfo’s lawyers that their reports are of a high standard and comply with Civil Procedure Rules through submission of an anonymised sample report reviewed with feedback.
Over the past 15 years, alongside barristers and personal injury solicitors, we have trained over 2,500 doctors on our training courses accredited for continuing profession development and covering topics such as medico-legal essentials, clinical negligence and courtroom skills. We also provide mediation courses through the Society of Mediators.
Currently, we are gearing up for our annual medico-legal conference to be held on 20 June at The Congress Centre in London.
Our first one took place in 2019 and, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we held well attended and reviewed events online throughout.
High-profile speakers are keen to attend and it brings together medico-legal professionals, industry experts, the press and government officials from the UK and beyond. We have always received fantastic feedback for this event, which is increasingly popular.
It is completely free for doctors to register. If you charge people, you don’t get a comprehensive list of people and services, hence making it free means it is accurate and complete.
We make our money by providing medico-legal and other courses and we run paid-for conferences too.
For the future, we look forward to our continued collaboration with the medical and legal professions.