In mediation, three rooms are normally booked in a hotel or conference centre convenient to the parties. There is one room for each party and one central room, called the caucus, where each party can address the other over a table.

There is only confrontation if the other side is not picking up on your points. Simple disagreement should not lead to argument.

Proceedings will begin with each side stating their case to the other, uninterrupted. Each party will then retire to their own room and the mediator will speak to them individually and in confidence to establish possible areas of compromise.

After a while, the mediator may begin asking each party for details of their case that can be revealed to the other side in exchange for reciprocal revelations.

Ultimately, when the mediator feels that there is enough common ground they may suggest a compromise.

This may be accepted by each side or there may be further exchanges of views via the mediator or across the caucus table.

A range of outcomes is possible, including a simple apology, an explanation, a chance for the consultant and patient to talk and financial compensation.

If no settlement can be reached the parties usually continue with litigation. Mediators have no powers to impose a settlement and mediation usually takes one to two days, whereas court time set aside for a clinical negligence case is usually between five and 10 days.