Medico-Legal

Introducing Our Medico-Legal Advisers & Claims Managers

 Ms Victoria Astill-Smith

Ms Victoria Astill-Smith


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

After completing her law degree at the University of Western Australia, Victoria commenced her legal career as a defendant insurance lawyer at Phillips Fox working in their defendant insurance and professional indemnity litigation section.  Over the years, Victoria has gained extensive experience in the areas of personal injury litigation, professional indemnity and worker’s compensation working in both small and large law firms.  Victoria has represented clients at conciliations, arbitrations and in District and Supreme Court matters.

Victoria joined MDA National in July 2009 as a Claims Manager.

 Ms Yvonne Baldwin

Ms Yvonne Baldwin


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

Ms Baldwin has a healthcare and legal background.  She became a Registered Nurse in 1992 and specialised in peri-operative nursing.  In 2002 graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Laws and has specialised in medical negligence and health law, having worked as the Medico-Legal Adviser for the North West Regional Hospital in Tasmania in 2006, and more recently as an in-house Solicitor at GIO for the Treasury Managed Fund, where she acted for Area Health Services in litigated and unlitigated medical negligence claims and coronial matters, and for public hospital VMOs in medical negligence matters.

Ms Baldwin joined MDA National in October 2008, and has recently completed a Master of Health Law through the University of Sydney.

 Dr Sara Bird

Dr Sara Bird


Manager, Medico-legal and Advisory Services

Dr Bird's background is in general practice, having worked as a GP in Sydney for over 10 years. Since 1998 she has worked with medical defence organisations as a claims manager and medico-legal adviser. She has a particular interest in clinical risk management and writes a monthly risk management article for GPs in Australian Family Physician. Dr Bird is also the author of the Medicolegal Handbook for General Practice which was published in 2006.

Her role as Manager, Medico-Legal and Advisory Services at MDA National involves assisting Members and their staff with medico-legal enquiries, complaints, investigations as well as medical negligence claims, both litigated and unlitigated.

 Ms Julie Brooke-Cowden

Ms Julie Brooke-Cowden - Manager, Claims and Advisory Services (East)


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

Julie graduated from Macquarie University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). She obtained her Specialist Accreditation in Personal Injury (Defendant) Litigation in 2000 and her Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Sydney in 2005. Julie is an Adjunct Lecturer with the University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Medicine in Sydney, and a Mentor with the Law Society of NSW’s Women’s mentoring program. She has also been a member of Concord Repatriation General Hospital’s Human Research Ethics Committee for the past 10 years.

Since commencing work with MDA National in 2005, Julie has provided assistance and advice to Doctors with respect to complaints, claims, performance and disciplinary issues, conduct and health matters, Medicare investigations and audits, Pharmaceutical Services investigations, and Coronial investigations and inquests.

 

 Ms Alice Cran

Ms Alice Cran


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

Alice holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. She has specialised in the area of medical malpractice since her admission as a legal practitioner in 1997. For eight years, Alice worked in private practice where she acted for doctors and hospitals in the defence of medical malpractice claims in both the District and Supreme Courts of New South Wales. Complementing her litigation experience, Alice has done advisory work for various health organisations, covering a myriad of medico-legal topics and trade practices issues.

Before joining MDA National in 2011, Alice worked as a Claims Lawyer for a London-based Insurer, a member of the Lloyds Syndicate. Her work involved managing incidents and litigated claims for private hospitals Australia-wide.

 Ms Candice Danby

Ms Candice Danby


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

Since her admission in 1999 Candice has had extensive experience as a solicitor in the United Kingdom and Sydney. Candice specialised largely in the area of Family Law until returning to Perth in 2008 when she commenced work as the in house legal officer at the Office of Health Review (WA). This role included the management of complaints received from patients concerning medical practitioners employed in both the public and private sectors. Whilst Candice acted as an impartial conciliator in the resolution of these complaints she also assisted and provided support to medical practitioners and patients during this process. In addition, Candice provided information to practitioners regarding risk management strategies following on from the resolution of complaints. 

Candice joined MDA National as a claims manager in December 2009.

 Dr Jane Deacon

Dr Jane Deacon


Medico-Legal Adviser

Dr Jane Deacon graduated from the University of Western Australia in the 1980s. She has been engaged in general practice since then, both as a practice owner, and more recently as a part-time associate. She has been finance director and later vice chair of the Osborne Division of General Practice. Dr Deacon has had an ongoing interest in medical education both for medical students and general practice registrars.

Dr Deacon joined MDA National in September 2006. She provides in-house medical opinion for the non-medical claims managers, and also assists Members with medico- legal advice on an extensive range of matters.

 Ms Nerissa Ferrie

Ms Nerissa Ferrie


Claims Manager

Nerissa Ferrie joined MDA National as a Claims Manager in 2008 before moving into a Medico-legal Advisory role in 2010. She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Workers’ Compensation, Practice and Management from Curtin Business School and is currently completing a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at Griffith University.

Her main areas of interest are Medical Board, Coronial and Medicare investigations, as well as keeping up to date with the ever-changing medico-legal landscape. Nerissa has been published in a number of internal and external publications, and is currently the sub-editor of Defence Update. In addition to her work at MDA National, Nerissa is the external independent reviewer for the University of Notre Dame (Fremantle).

 Ms Nicole Golding

Ms Nicole Golding


Claims Handler

 

Nicole commenced with MDA National in 2006 providing assistance to Claims Managers and the Claims Administration Manager in Perth.  In 2009, Nicole moved into the role of Claims Handler, assisting in Claims and Advisory Services by providing assistance to Members as well as Claims Managers in general case management.  Nicole has an Advanced Diploma in Business (Legal Practice) and is in her third year of her Bachelor of Law.

 Ms Janet Harry

Ms Janet Harry


Claims Manager (Solicitor) / Risk Adviser

Janet is a graduate of the University of Western Australia and has had extensive experience in insurance litigation. She has worked for a number of private legal firms, including Clayton Utz, Freehills and Kott Gunning and as In House Insurance Counsel for Wesfarmers Limited. Janet also spent a number of years with Law Mutual managing professional indemnity claims against lawyers. Janet’s main areas of practice include employers’ indemnity, personal injury and professional indemnity.

Janet joined MDA in 2011. Her role as a Medico-Legal Advisor with MDA involves assisting Members and their staff with medico-legal enquiries, complaints, investigations, medical negligence claims and legislative review and comment on areas affecting members.

 Dr Helen Havryk

Dr Helen Havryk


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

Dr Havryk joined MDA National in February 2007. She practised in clinical medicine for a number of years prior to completing her legal studies. She was employed as a lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) practising solely in medical litigation for five years and then as a claims manager dealing mainly with litigated matters in New South Wales with another medical defence organisation prior to joining MDA National.

Since joining MDA National in 2007, Dr Havryk has built on her previous claims management experience by routinely managing claims commenced in other East Coast jurisdictions (in addition to NSW) and has broadened her expertise to include investigations by Medicare and disciplinary matters commenced by AHPRA and various state complaint bodies such as the Health Care Complaints Commission (NSW), Health Quality and Complaints Commission (Queensland) and Office of the Health Services Commissioner (Victoria).  She is also developing her practice in employment law. 

 Ms Deborah Jackson

Ms Deborah Jackson


Manager, Claims and Advisory Services (Solicitor) - Sydney

Ms Jackson has a diverse background in the health industry. She was a Registered Nurse in Intensive Care, Accident and Emergency and a graduate in Psychiatric Nursing.

She has extensive experience in medical negligence litigation in all jurisdictions acting for doctors, physiotherapists and other allied healthcare professionals in civil and coronial hearings.

Ms Jackson has also represented nursing homes, private and public hospitals in civil and coronial hearings, as well as drafting policies for many private Healthcare Institutions. She joined MDA National in 2003.

In addition to providing medico-legal advice, assistance with Medical Board, Medicare Investigations, Coronial Inquiries and claims management to all MDA National Members, Ms Jackson regularly speaks at seminars and conferences to doctors of various disciplines advising them of developments in medical negligence in their respective state and area of practice.

 Ms Puja Menon

Ms Puja Menon


Claims Manager (Solicitor)

After completing her law degree at the University of Western Australia, Ms Menon commenced her legal career as a plaintiff personal injury lawyer at Trewin Norman & Co for three and a half years. She then moved to DLA Phillips Fox in their defendant insurance and professional indemnity litigation section. There, she focused on advising ‘insureds’ on various claims ranging from property damage, public liability (including mine site injuries) and product liability. She gained exposure to medical negligence claims and assisted in representing hospitals in that arena. Over the years, she has represented clients in District and Supreme Court matters. 

Ms Menon joined MDA National in July 2009 as a claims manager and is responsible for assisting members with investigations, complaints, enquiries as well as medical malpractice claims, ranging from those at a preliminary incident level to litigated matters. 

 Ms Philippa Nash

Ms Philippa Nash


Manager, Claims and Advisory Services (Solicitor) - Perth

Ms Nash started her career in the medical field as an Occupational Therapist, working predominantly in Industrial Rehabilitation and Acute Rehabilitation (Catastrophically injured patients) in Australia and the US.

Ms Nash studied law at UWA and commenced work with Talbot & Oliver in their Insurance Litigation section in 1991. Although her main practice was personal injury claim defence (Professional Indemnity, Workers Comp and Public Liability) she also handled some large personal injury claims for Plaintiffs. Ms Nash also worked for Parker & Parker/Freehills, Srdarov Richards Burton and Phillips Fox before joining MDA National in October 2002. 

 

 
 Ms Sharon Russell

Ms Sharon Russell


Claims Manager (Solicitor) / Risk Adviser

Sharon has a health care and legal background. She graduated from Sydney University as a Physiotherapist in 1995 and practised for several years before commencing her legal studies. She graduated from her legal studies in 2006. Whilst completing her legal studies she worked in various law firms specialising in insurance litigation and also as a medico-legal risk manager. Since her admission as a solicitor she has worked primarily in the area of defendant medical negligence and medico-legal risk management.

Sharon’s role as a Medico-Legal Claims Manager and Risk Advisor at MDA National encompasses assisting Members and their staff with general medico-legal and risk management enquiries, AHPRA and Health Care Complaints Commission complaints, Medicare investigations as well as litigated and unlitigated medical negligence claims.

Sharon commenced with MDA National in July 2011.

 Julian Walters

Dr Julian Walter


Medico-Legal Adviser

Dr Walter joined MDA National in December 2011 with both a medical and legal background. He graduated from Sydney University in 1993 and has spent the last 15 years working as a Career Medical Officer in a large Sydney private hospital with particular interests in both intensive care and general medicine.

Dr Walter completed a law degree from Macquarie University in 2007 and was admitted as a lawyer in 2010. He spent 5 months working with a New York commercial law firm before returning to Australia to pursue medico legal work.

His role in the Medico Legal Advisory Service at MDA National involves assisting Members and their staff with medico-legal enquiries, complaints, investigations and claims. He is also involved with the provision of in-house medical opinions.

 Ian Yard-Smith

Mr Ian Yard-Smith


Executive Manager, Professional Services

 

Ian joined MDA National in December 2013 and, in addition to being part of the executive committee of MDAN has responsibility for three departments – Claims and Advisory Services, Support in Practice and Education Services.  Ian has a legal background and has been admitted to practice as a solicitor for 20 years having completed his law degree at the University of Tasmania in 1993.

 

Ian has extensive experience in both the law and management having held senior legal and management positions with the Chubb Insurance Company of Australia and Perpetual Limited.  Ian has worked for a number of preeminent Australian law firms including Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) and Baker & McKenzie specialising in litigation.