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GMC gross negligence manslaughter review to look at ‘diversity matters’

The GMC’s review into how gross negligence manslaughter is applied in medicine will look at ‘diversity matters’ around doctors that come under investigation, it has been announced.

This comes after the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) said that the ‘pursuit’ of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba ‘reflects the inherent bias that exists within the GMC’, with the GMC responding that the accusations were ‘troubling and without merit’.

The GMC also announced the review, which was announced in January following doctors’ concerns after the GMC’s successful high court appeal to strike off a doctor convicted of the offence, will be led by Dame Clare Marx, chair of the faculty of medical leadership and management.

Dame Clare said that while gross negligence manslaughter convictions involving doctors ‘are rare’, there is ‘a critical need to examine the wider issues around how these cases’.

She said: ‘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.’

In a statement, the GMC said the review will also look 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’.

After the high court verdict, GPs raised concerns about the use of reflections in the trial, with some saying that GPs ‘can no longer reflect openly and honestly, so the chances to learn from our mistakes is gone’.

However, the GMC said their review, which is due to be completed by the end of the year, ‘aims to support doctors in raising concerns and encourage reflective practice, while improving patient safety’.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘As well as addressing the issues with criminal prosecutions a further aim of this review is to encourage a renewed focus on enabling a learning, no-blame culture, reflective practice and provision of support for doctors in raising concerns.’

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Shortly after the GMC announced its review, the health secretary also announced a ‘rapid review’ into manslaughter charges, with the GMC adding that the two reviews ‘will inform each other’.