Health Policy

06.02.18

Hunt orders review into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare

Jeremy Hunt has ordered an urgent review into how gross negligence manslaughter is applied in healthcare, amidst concerns over the Dr Bawa-Garba case.

In 2015 Hadiza Bawa-Garba was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and suspended from the medical register for 12 months, following the death of a six year old boy.

Last month the General Medical Council (GMC) won a High Court appeal, which meant that the junior doctor was permanently erased from the register.

Thousands of medics have responded, arguing that the conviction ignored NHS failings and staff shortages which contributed to the child’s death.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, MP Dr Caroline Johnson said that she has seen the negative impact that this case has had on reflective learning in practice.

The health and social care secretary, who has previously expressed concerns over the Bawa-Garba case, said that there are concerns that doctors who want the freedom to learn from mistakes may not have a voice.

“The recent Dr. Bawa-Garba case has caused huge concern,” he told the House of Commons.

“Today I can announce that I’ve asked Professor Sir Norman Williams, former president of the Royal College of Surgeons, my senior clinical advisor, to conduct a rapid review in to the application of gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare.”

Williams will work alongside senior lawyers to establish how to ensure that reflective learning continues and mistakes are not covered up, and any lessons that need to be learned by the GMC.

Hunt continued: “How we ensure clarity in where the line is drawn between gloss negligence manslaughter and ornery human error in medical practice so that doctors and other health professionals know where they stand in respect to criminal liability and professional misconduct.”

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, has welcomed the review: “The issues around gross negligence manslaughter within healthcare have been present for a number of years, and we have been engaged in constructive discussions with medical leaders on this issue.”

He added that the GMC’s work, which explores how gross negligence manslaughter or its equivalent in the devolved nations is applied to medical practice, will include a “renewed focus” on reflection and the provision of support for doctors in raising concerns.

“Doctors are working in extremely challenging conditions, and we recognise that any doctor can make a mistake, particularly when working under pressure,” he continued.

“We know that we cannot immediately resolve all of the profession’s concerns, but we are determined to do everything possible to bring positive improvements out of this issue.

Dr. Rob Hendry, medical director at the Medical Protection Society, said: “Gross negligence manslaughter cases are usually complex, involve systems failures, and are devastating for all concerned.

“A conviction should not automatically mean that a doctor who has fully remediated and demonstrated insight into their clinical failings is erased.”

He concluded: “The strength of feeling on the outcome of the Dr Bawa-Garba case, and the deep concern around its impact on an open, learning culture in healthcare, has been clear to see.

“We are pleased that these concerns, and the need to identify learnings, have been acknowledged by the secretary of state.”

The report is expected to be completed by the end of April 2018.

Top image: Joe Giddens PA Archive

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Four Derbyshire CCGs consider merger to deal with £95m deficit

15/08/2018Four Derbyshire CCGs consider merger to deal with £95m deficit

CCGs in Derbyshire are to discuss plans on how they can source £51m of savings. After a three-week public consultation period, which e... more >
Plans for single AO across three CCGs in doubt due to localism fears, but full merger still possible

15/08/2018Plans for single AO across three CCGs in doubt due to localism fears, but full merger still possible

Plans to create a single accountable officer (AO) for three major Leicestershire CCGs have been cast into doubt, as concerns were raised about a ... more >
NHS England blocks expansion plans for ‘GP at Hand’ app citing safety fears

15/08/2018NHS England blocks expansion plans for ‘GP at Hand’ app citing safety fears

Plans to expand the ‘GP at Hand’ smartphone app outside of London have been blocked by NHS chiefs citing patient safety concerns. ... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

The NICE impact on falls and fragility fractures

10/08/2018The NICE impact on falls and fragility fractures

Falls should not be an inevitable part of ageing – and their snowball effect means the consequence of falls are far from limited to just hospital admissions, says Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE Almost a third of over-65s in the UK have a fall at least once a year, with a... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Listening to the frontline

15/08/2018Listening to the frontline

Professor Wendy Reid, executive director of education & quality and national medical director at Health Education England (HEE), shares insig... more >
Medication without harm

15/08/2018Medication without harm

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Third Global Patient Safety Challenge, ‘Medication without harm,’ is ambitious, b... more >
Stepping up the fight against AMR

15/08/2018Stepping up the fight against AMR

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, explains what the organisation is doing to support the fight against antimic... more >
Population health for the 21st century

15/08/2018Population health for the 21st century

NHS Partners Network (NHSPN) chief executive David Hare discusses the themes covered at his organisation’s Confed18 panel debate on populat... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News