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GMC to review how medical manslaughter charges are applied to doctors

The GMC is set to review how gross negligence manslaughter is applied to medical practice following doctors’ concerns after its successful high court appeal to strike off a doctor convicted of the offence.

The review will bring together health professional leaders, defence bodies, patient, legal and criminal justice experts from across the UK, and will focus on doctors’ 'reflections' and support for doctors in raising concerns.

The move follows a High Court ruling, which found in favour of the GMC’s decision to strike off Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba from its register.

Dr Bawa-Garba received a 24 month suspended sentence for gross negligence manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court in 2015 following the death of a six-year-old patient four years earlier.

She was declared fit to practise by the GMC's Medical Practitioners Tribunal service, but the GMC took the MPTS to High Court in a bid to appeal the decision, arguing that it did not have the authority to effectively go against the conviction.

GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson said that the GMC 'recognise the strength of feeling expressed by many doctors'.

He added: ‘In recent months I have been engaged in workshops and constructive discussions with medical leaders on the issue of medical manslaughter. That is urgent work because, although in this case the court has ruled that the MPTS had no powers to unpick the criminal court conviction, it is clear that there is a critical need to examine the wider issues around how gross negligent manslaughter cases are initiated and investigated, the expertise and consistency applied to those investigations, and the role of reflection in such matters.

‘As part of our commitment to learn and improve matters we will bring together health professional leaders, defence bodies, patient, legal and criminal justice experts from across the UK to explore how gross negligence manslaughter is applied to medical practice, in situations where the risk of death is a constant and in the context of systemic pressure. That work will include a renewed focus on reflection and provision of support for doctors in raising concerns.'

Professor Stephenson said the GMC 'recognise that any doctor, no matter how experienced, can make a mistake, particularly when working under pressure'.

Readers' comments (15)

  • WOULD IT NOT BE EASIER TO SIMPLY STRIKE ALL DOCTORS OFF THE MEDICAL REGISTER-AS EVENTUALLY ALL DOCTORS WILL MAKE SOME KIND OF MISTAKE IN THEIR CAREER.
    THEN WE COULD HAVE A SOCIETY WHERE NO DOCTORS EVER MAKE A MISTAKE......BECAUSE THERE ARE NO DOCTORS PRACTISING TO MAKE ANY MISTAKES! ....GENIUS

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  • Well said last man standing👍

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  • Professor Stephenson should be seeing patients and helping when it is busy and put him in the situation the poor registrar is in. Let's see if he feels this GMC treatment is workable. The problem with the system is that the rules are made by people whom it will never be applied to, hiding in the GMC, CCG etc. We have all lost confidence in the regulators who are now just a big political bully.

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  • That is why are regulator should be a majority of peers and not run by ex news paper editors and the like.
    We were lost when the majority peer was overturned

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  • Are doctors who actually work full-time on a busy under-staffed medical ward going to be part of this review panel?!

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  • So the GMC are going to look it at it now that they've destroyed the career of a black woman for (apparently) making a human error.
    Perhaps they thought nobody was looking.
    My contempt for the GMC and the harm it will cause British medicine is unlimited.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Agree.

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  • Morale flagging

    What the hell is this insane preoccupation with reflection ... is a mass murderer less guilty if he reflects ??
    if you do not reflect you are guilty
    if you have been reflecting then the prosecution can use that reflection against you ??!!!

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  • Morale flagging

    Another thing the GMC NEEDS TO FIX .. Having a blinkered approach to cases .... yes liek th eporsecution cover up the 80 plus organisational issues later fixed
    do not place the doctor under a microscope away from all the other glaring issues you cannot oir will not take into account

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  • Morale flagging

    That is urgent work because, although in this case the court has ruled that the MPTS had no powers to unpick the criminal court conviction.... Is the GMC aware that sometimes peolpe are forced to stretegically take guilty pleas as the lesser of two evils ... I would demand that the GMC make some effort to actually analyse cases for themselves rather than brick walling after a so called court "conviction" ... the courts are not always interested in the truth .. and it depends how aggressive your prosecution is

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