This month's profile returns to the Council's committees, introducing Alison Britton, convener of the new Health and Medical Law Committee

What is your own practice area?

I am currently Head of Law at Glasgow Caledonian University. My particular interest is medical law, ethics and policy relating to healthcare practice. I like the fact that it combines so many aspects of law and considers issues across the spectrum of life – everything from assisted technologies at birth, to death and dying.

What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?

I really enjoy what I do and consider myself fortunate that my job is interesting and varied. No two Mondays are the same!

What’s your top tip for new lawyers?

You only live once – find a job that’s interesting, rewarding and fulfilling. Keeping a sense of perspective and humour has helped me deal with many challenging situations.

How long have you been a member of the committee and how did you become involved?

The Health and Medical Law Committee has just recently been established and we had our first meeting on 4 April. During my career, I have tried to get involved in legal areas that bring a different perspective to my academic experience, so when the Society intimated that they were recruiting members I applied and was delighted to accept the role of convener.

What have been the highlights for you personally?

It’s still in its early stages but I think that the Health and Medical Law Committee will provide new dimensions to and enhance the work and profile of the Society. Health affects everyone and it is my intention that we will make a positive contribution to public life in Scotland.

What big project/issue is the committee working on at the moment?

We have already been busy and I believe the committee business will increase to accommodate the diverse range of issues which will come under its umbrella. There is a wealth of experience represented on the committee, so I am really looking forward to future discussion and deliberation. Consultation responses to date have included consideration of the establishment of a new Scottish food standards agency, and proposals for amendments to legislation to allow for the sale of medicines on trains and planes. Current business includes a consultation on drug cutting agents and the proposed Smoking (Children in Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill.

What do you see as the other main issues that the committee will have to address in the near future?

I guess one of the big ones for next year will be Margo MacDonald MSP’s revived End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill. More generally, issues that address quality of life and lifestyle and the utility and application of medical technological advancements.

Are you a member of any other committees?

Not so far!

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I am an enthusiastic, if not very speedy, marathon runner. I like being outdoors generally and was thrilled to climb Mount Kilimanjaro last year. My summer project is training my new German shepherd pup.

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