Hospital Dr News

Dame Clare Marx to lead the GMC’s medical manslaughter review

A GMC review into how manslaughter by gross negligence is applied to medical practice will be led by Dame Clare Marx.

Dame Clare will lead the independent review to explore how gross negligence manslaughter cases are initiated and investigated in the UK.

The work will bring together defence organisations, patient, legal and criminal justice experts from across the UK to analyse how existing processes can be improved.

It will include looking at the pathway leading from reporting to investigation and prosecution; distinguishing between errors and exceptionally bad failings; the role of expert witnesses; and the need for reliable data to support a genuine understanding of incidence and trends.

It aims to support doctors in raising concerns and encourage reflective practice, while improving patient safety.

The review follows widespread criticism of the GMC amongst the profession for pursuing Dr Bawa-Garba in the High Court, and getting her struck off the medical register, for negligence over the death of a six-year-old-boy from Sepsis.

Dame Clare, the Chair of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management and a former royal college president, said: “Gross negligence manslaughter convictions involving medical professionals at work are rare but it is clear that there is a critical need to examine the wider issues around how these cases are initiated and investigated by the various agencies across the UK and the expertise and consistency applied to those investigations.

“Each step of the process will be explored from local investigations post incidents, to diversity matters surrounding the doctors subject to investigation and whether regulatory processes at the GMC could be improved in such cases.

“Doctors are often working in an immensely pressurised system where mistakes can happen. This work will be valuable for the medical profession and I am pleased the GMC has decided to take this work forward.”

The GMC aims to complete the review by the end of the year.

It follows Jeremy Hunt’s announcement that the Department of Health will also perform a rapid review into whether gross negligence manslaughter laws are fit for purpose in healthcare in England. This will be led by another former royal college president Norman Williams.

The regulator and the DoH suggest their work will inform each other.

The High Court ruling to strike off the trainee paediatrician from the UK medical register has prompted widespread concern among doctors, who claim that Bawa-Garba was scapegoated, given the multiple system failures that led to the child’s death.

Bawa-Garba was convicted for manslaughter in 2015, and the High Court verdict came after the GMC appealed against a medical practitioners tribunal decision to suspend her for 12 months rather than erase her.

Announcing the DoH review in the House of Commons on 6 February, Hunt said it would examine “how we ensure there is clarity about where the line is drawn between gross negligence manslaughter and ordinary human error in medical practice, so that doctors and other health professionals know where they stand with respect to clinical liability or professional misconduct.”

In a show of solidarity with Dr Bawa-Garba, some doctors reported themselves to the GMC on the basis that they had made similar mistakes that might have led to the deaths of patients, while others tore up their registration documents in protest.

A campaign to crowdfund advice on appeals against both the High Court ruling and Bawa-Garba’s original conviction had raised more than £320,000 by 6 February.

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation