The Medical Mediation Foundation was founded in 2010 by Sarah Barclay, a former award-winning BBC health and social affairs presenter and Dr Simon Meller, a children’s cancer specialist. With their different backgrounds, Sarah and Simon had both had experience of seeing how conflicts between parents and health professionals could lead to communication breakdown, impact the care of a child and the wellbeing of clinical teams. They could also see that there was very little available to help support either parents or staff when conflicts arose and began to explore the use of mediation as a potential way forward.
MMF was set up as a not-for-profit organisation with two key aims; to provide mediation to help resolve disagreements between parents and health professionals and secondly, to create a training programme which would equip health professionals with the skills and confidence to recognise and manage conflict with families pro-actively and compassionately. Its first piece of work was research designed to explore the causes and warning signs of conflicts between parents and professionals funded by a grant from a Department of Health fund for supporting projects relating to children with life-limiting conditions.
As part of this project Sarah and a colleague interviewed health professionals, parents, medical ethicists and lawyers to help them understand what caused conflicts between professionals and families and to see what made them escalate and why. See some of the things they said. This research helped MMF to create a model for medical mediation and conflict management training for health and social care. Since 2010, MMF has trained more than 7,000 professionals in the UK and internationally as well as publishing peer reviewed research into the incidence of conflict in paediatrics, the outcomes from its training and the piloting of a structured framework for managing conflict as a team.