The independent review into how the law on gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide are applied to medical practice has published its findings. The review, led by Leslie Hamilton, came after high profile legal cases, such as that of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

Commenting, President Derek Bell said:

The GMC’s case against Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba undoubtedly affected their relationship with doctors across the country, so we welcome Leslie Hamilton’s recommendation that the GMC must rebuild trust with the profession. We think that this is essential, and the GMC appear to accept that relationships need to be rebuilt, which is a good start.

Sadly, errors in care can and do occur, as we saw in the tragic case of Jack Adcock. In order to address this, all healthcare professionals must learn from serious failings in care.

We also think that serious thought about reflective practice is required - an area where the GMC has regrettably lost the trust of doctors. We note Leslie Hamilton’s recommendation that the UK Parliament and devolved administrations could consider how legal protection could be given to doctor’s reflections. In any event, doctors’ trust and faith in the system must be re-established. Steps must be taken to ensure that reflection is used as learning tool, not as a means to attribute blame.

The GMC, the NHS, the Medical Royal Colleges, professional unions and policy makers must encourage an open and no-blame culture, where the focus is on identifying and addressing system failures and risks, and where all staff and patients are empowered to raise concerns over standards of care. Only by doing so can we ensure that we learn from cases such as that of Jack Adcock, and prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

Both during and after the GMC’s case against Dr Bawa-Garba, we have worked closely with our Trainees and Members Committee, to ensure that our Members and Fellows are provided with the most up to date information about key issues for doctors, including reflective practice guidance. In light of the Leslie Hamilton’s report, we will continue to do this, and we will also work closely with the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, to assist in providing relevant professional training, development and support for doctors of all grades.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658