Can I make an audio record of a meeting.

  gengiscant 12:02 01 Nov 2011

I am going through a protracted complaint process with my local health board and things have take a slight turn in my favour. Following an article in my local evening paper where the health board were praising the complaints procedure which seemingly makes it easier to file a complaint, better response times,and the fact that they now had in place a very efficient nurse director who was keen to deal with patients directly. The article seems to give the impression that this appointment is relatively new where in fact she was there a couple of years ago when I first made the complaint.

As the article reawakened the deep anger that I have for my health board,the way that my complaint has been handle and d,dare I say it the dirty tricks that have been used to try and persuade me that my complaint is without merit.Anyway I fired off an email leaving the complaints department in no doubt that I thought the article was a load of whitewash and that I was intending to give another side to the evening paper.

Fair play to the complaints department I received an acknowledgment informing me that my comments would be passed on. a day later I received another email stating that my file had been reviewed and that mistakes had indeed been made in my treatment for cancer and in the way my complaint was handled.

I have now received a further email suggesting a meeting which is where the post title comes in. I do not trust the health board and wonder what are my legal responsibilities in respect of recording the meeting should it go ahead?

I intend to first seek clarification on what will be on the agenda, who will be at this meeting, whether minutes will be kept and whether it would be wise to take a witness of some sort to the proceedings?

My apologies for the lengthy post.

  Aitchbee 12:20 01 Nov 2011

I don't know 'bout the legalities, but I can tell you that I used a Mini-Disc recorder with an external mic for a one hour recording down at my local, and the quality of the sound was top-notch.I did get everyone's approval before recording began.

  Forum Editor 12:25 01 Nov 2011

I you want to record what is said at a meeting you can do so, provided you notify everyone in advance. Making an audo recording is the same as taking minutes - you must offer other parties a copy.

Secretive recording is out of the question - don't contemplate doing it.

One of the problems with audio minutes is the problem of identifying speakers. Written minutes attribute comments to individuals - an Audio record can't do that. My advice is to ask for a copy of the written minutes, if there will be any. Otherwise, say that you wish to be accompanied by a friend, and ask the friend to make notes. Be aware that only properly recorded written minutes would be admissible in any subsequent legal action. It would be no good for you or your friend to say 'X said this'.

  gengiscant 13:02 01 Nov 2011

Forum Editor

Thank you for your comments. An excellent point regarding identifying speakers, one that should have crossed my mind. I think I will have to insist that there are minutes taken.

  Forum Editor 14:28 01 Nov 2011

You can take your own notes, but they won't be admissable if it comes to litigation. That's why itvwould be best to have an agreed set of written minutes. For that they'll need to have a shorthand writer.

  Aitchbee 15:11 01 Nov 2011

I would agree with fourm member's last comment.

  gengiscant 15:27 01 Nov 2011

It will be very difficult to not go to the meeting without leanings of an adversarial nature, given the attitude,treatment, very underhand practices of the complaints department who sole aim is to get you to drop your claim or at least make it extremely difficult to continue.

I am reminded of a recent case of a doctor having the wrong bit of his heart operated on and the health board denying it for two years. I cannot remember the details but they have now admitted that a error had occurred.

As yet I have not agree to a meeting,I have still to take advice on the matter. I agree it might not be helpful but I would certainly not be attending with a cap in hand attitude, grateful that they have finally admitted mistakes,accept their shallow words of apology and accept that they have left me with lifelong problems purely because of the arrogance shown by some consultants who believe in their infallibility and a patient has no right to question their competence ,diagnosis or treatment.

Sorry rant over.

  wee eddie 16:07 01 Nov 2011

I remember a day when I was summoned to meet with the Local Authority Taxi Licensing Officer. I rang them, in advance of the Meeting, and asked if the matter that they wished to discuss would require me to have a Solicitor present. They replied that a Solicitor would not be necessary.

There was the Licensing Officer and her Secretary present. As I am used to going to meetings, of one kind or another, I had taken my Olympus Pocket Memo with me and asked if I might keep a Record of the Proceedings.

They looked at each other and said that that would not be possible and that we could re-schedule the Meeting until I had organised another person to be present.

Some people can be very wary of anyone Recording what they say. In this case, I should have had back-up as someone had complained about my behaviour. The Complaint was unjustified but the LO's opinion could have gone either way and I might have lost my License.

My advice. Warn people, in advance, that you plan to keep a vocal record of the proceedings. Get everyone to introduce them-self, and state their role, at the beginning of the Meeting. Which is frequent practise anyway, going a long way to identifying each voice and so get around that problem.

  gengiscant 17:24 01 Nov 2011

Fourm member. I appreciate you only see good in all things bureaucratic but your statement *if there has been a change of heart by the hospital, * has nothing to do with the authority suddenly discovering a conscience, it is all to do with me not giving up and the support of an excellent GP service who has brought about this "change of heart."

Their intention may well be to have an open discussion, but you must appreciate there has to be some degree of trust on my part, which unfortunately because of past dealings with the hospital is proving difficult. A formal exchange of letters insures that neither party can deny content of such letters, and as for the slowness of time by communicating in such a manner,it has suited the health board to use the time scale to answer any correspondence relating to my complaint to always be answered on the final day allowed under the complaints procedure.

I thank you for your comments but this is a situation where you need to know all the facts. My post was nothing more than a question of my legal obligations in regards to making an audio record. I am trying to make sure that,to put it bluntly, not shafted by the health authority/complaints department.

  Forum Editor 18:03 01 Nov 2011

There's nothing wrong in wanting a record of what is said at a meeting. People think they'll remember what is said, and they do, for a short period. As time goes by however, most people start 'remembering' things in a slightly different way, and that's when a (preferably written) record can be very useful. It's the reason that Police officers carry a notebook which they are normally permitted to refer to when giving evidence in court, often months after an incident.

Wanting a record of a meeting isn't necessarily an indication of an adversarial attitude, provided you go about it in the right way. I spend a lot of time in meetings, and I know how a negative or aggressive attitude can rebound on someone in a big way. You haven't asked for advice on how to conduct yourself, so I'm not going to offer any.

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