'More fairness' needed in CAA's medical appeals

An Independent Medical Ombudsman is needed to bring fairness into UK CAA’s medical appeals, according to a scientific paper.

The paper was researched and written by Professor David Warnock-Smith of Buckinghamshire New University and an air transport consultant, and Jordan Penning, Operations Controller at Air Charter Service.

David Warnock-Smith said, “Using qualitative 2021 data, we found that there is consensual agreement amongst experts and stakeholders for the introduction of more independence into the UK CAA medical appeals process.”

Highlights of the long and detailed paper include:

  • Views of 24 stakeholders, representing 48 different job roles obtained as part of a semi-structured interview process in the year 2021.
  • There was largely consensual support for an independent review body as an additional stage of the UK CAA medical appeals process.
  • Upon reviewing Australian and American medical appeals processes, most participants felt there was a higher level of fairness than the UK CAA system.
  • It was felt that an Independent Medical Ombudsman stage would align with the UK CAA’s critical work around Just Culture, with caveats about how best to implement such a mechanism.

“The results revealed compelling evidence that the current CAA process is not as clear, fair, or transparent as it could be with only 21% stating yes to all three elements, lower than views on the currently published CASA and FAA processes, with 83% and 75% supporting them as they are respectively,” says the paper.

The full paper, titled A critical analysis of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s medical appeals process: Assessing the need for an independent medical ombudsman, is available to read and download as a pdf here.


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