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Half of doctors fear facing blame for errors due to system failings, says top GP

More than half of doctors fear they will be blamed for making a medical error made because of systemic pressures in the NHS, a top GP has said.

Opening the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting, BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul added that a BMA survey of 8,000 doctors also found that only a quarter are willing to record written reflections.

This comes after the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba drew controversy after it was believed that experts giving evidence at her gross negligence manslaughter trial - heard by a Crown Court in 2015 - had been informed by her personal reflections.

The GMC struck off Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register, after she was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘95% of doctors told us they were fearful of making a medical error and more than half fear they’ll be blamed for errors due to pressures or system failings in their workplace.

‘Only a quarter are happy to record reflections, the rest fearing they could be used against them.’

Dr Nagpaul added that fear of being criminalised for a medical is 'the most harrowing cloud hanging over any doctor', adding that the 'defensive culture is bad for doctors, bad for patients and bad for safety'.

Therefore, Dr Nagpaul told delegates that he was ‘pleased that the BMA will be providing evidence in the appeal of Dr Bawa-Garba, to raise these very issues in the interests of doctors and patients themselves.’

The BMA has previously said their advice to Court of Appeal would focus on ‘the extent to which fitness to practice tribunals are entitled to consider evidence which has already been considered by a jury, including evidence of systemic pressures and remediation’.

Readers' comments (10)

  • TBH I am fed up of “top GP’s” impassioned speeches that I have watched year upon year with hope, only to be dashed year upon year. Nothing changes. I have resigned from my partnership and never felt more positive about controlling my future. Not sure if it will involve less money. I dont care. I know for each hour I work in the future will be a lot more than I have been experiencing for a long long time and more importantlly I will be more in control. Good luck everyone. You deserve better.

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  • I salute to the other half who do not fear.

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  • Agree with Fedup.
    Giving speeches at conferences with no impact do not give you the ridiculous moniker of 'Top GP'.
    9 sessions a week at the coal face like I do, perhaps do!

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  • What do the fearless 50% have for breakfast? Can I get some?

    Also congratulations on reaching Top GP level.

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  • Agree with above
    &
    Pulse should reflect on it's usage of 'Daily Mailisms'.

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  • What Now?

    The other half have juniors for that ??

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  • What Now?

    The other half are not BME?

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  • What Now?

    Dr Bawa Garba is ??
    1. Appealing the original crown court decision

    2. Then will appeal the GMC decision.

    How will being involved in the appeal have any bearing on the changing the ethos of scapegoating individuals when there are organisational failings?

    Surely that is an issue for Jeremy Hunt and the Government to debate


    What has Jeremy Hunt done about this
    He told us all he was very concerned
    Nothing has been done to hold organisational understaffing underrsourcing to account

    GMC cannot appeal medical tribunal decisions from now on is reassuring
    but what about addressing institutional racism in how bme doctors are treated?

    p.s. Where are we with crown indemnity for General practice??

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  • What Now?

    The LMC of some area voted no confidence in the GMC...
    Nothing changes this vote of no confidence
    but we can feel a bit safer that we have a safety net of the medical tribunal to save us from losing our livelihoods

    What will be done to address that no confidence in the GMC?

    Is it ethically correct that the profession continues to pay for the GMC when it has no confidence in it?

    Could some TOP GP's look into this
    Thanks

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  • Dr BG's is so complex. The Expert witness said that she ignored 'obvious deterioration.' Yet, Jack was transferred out of CAU to ward 28 by a person unknown at 1900. Who and why, if Jack was so ill [ deterioration from a moribund sate at 1030 ]? Why is this person not identified or asked why?
    Why was Jack laughing at 1200 and bouncing about at 1630 and his bloods showed an improved pH from 7.04 to 7.24, if he had indeed deteriorated?
    Only one of these scenarios can be right. So, how come the E.W. states that Jack got worse if he got better?
    How did Jack who was bouncing about at 1630 and transferred out at 1900, collapse at 1945? Why?

    Was it the ACEI ? How can the E.W. categorically state it was not the ACEI that caused catastrophic hypotension ? Surely, it should be a pathologist and not an ICU Consultant who should decide that? Can a pathologist tell the difference between Septic and ACEI shock?
    And if there is any doubt whatsoever, is the conviction safe?

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