A surgery was sued recently, when a patient slipped and injured themselves in the car park, which was slippery following a cold spell causing ice to form. As a result the BMA was asked for a legal opinion on what to do when weather is bad to minimise the practice's risk to litigation.
Here's the advice from the BMA legal department:
The matter is one of avoiding negligence claims. A practice must do all that is reasonable to ensure that the car park is safe - that does not necessarily mean that the practice must expend huge amounts of time and money to keep the place safe - the duty is to be reasonable in the circumstances. If however the practice does not have the time, resource or funding to make safe any car park they may simply choose to close it.
Another option used in conjunction with this advice is to have a warning sign outside the car park during icy conditions, stating that the car park is icy and patients are advised to park elsewhere. The practice may be able to exclude liability for damage to property but not to personal injury or death so although the sign may mitigate the liability for the practice, it does not absolve all liability.
The rule of thumb is to be reasonable and practicable and where this cannot be done than take a decision to close the car park.