The College hosted it's first medico-legal update, Doctors, Lawyers and Wolves: Learning from the Bawa-Garba Case (watch online), which focused on the lessons that the medical profession can learn from the Bawa-Garba case. The event was organised alongside the Faculty of Advocates.

A number of important issues were discussed, including personal reflections and their legal status; pressures on doctors and trainees; trainee isolation and consultant supervision and the regulatory-professional relationship. Also discussed were the differences between English law and Scots law in relation to clinical negligence and prosecution of doctors, with comparison of the law of Culpable Homicide in Scotland and Gross Negligence manslaughter in England,

The College has been active in the debate around the Bawa-Garba case, including correspondence with our Fellows and Members and discussion of the case at our full Council meeting in February. In addition, the College has represented our Fellows and Members’ views during discussions with the GMC, at the Scottish and UK Academy meetings, with the Faculty of Advocates, and with the Lord Advocate for Scotland as well as contributing to the Williams review into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare

We will continue to work closely with our Trainees and Members’ Committee and the Recently Appointed Consultants Committee, to ensure that a clear plan is in place for all medical staff to feel valued and supported in their roles.

Dr Peter Reid, Deputy Director of Education at the College, co-ordinated the event. He said:

“We are delighted and privileged to have hosted our first medico-legal update at the College, which was incredibly well attended by over 80 medical and legal professionals, ranging from trainees in both professions, to QCs and Advocates, and clinical directors at NHS hospitals. The event was a unique – and I think, vital – opportunity for medical and legal professionals to come together for an informed conversation about a complex legal topic such as the Bawa-Garba case.

“Our medico-legal update covered a wide range of topics relating to the Bawa-Garba case, including the Duty of Candour, which encourages doctors to engage in open and honest reflection on our mistakes and errors, in order to help drive improvements in the quality of healthcare, and to make care safer for patients. An open and no-blame culture must be encouraged, where staff feel empowered to raise concerns over standards of care and confident that action will be taken to address these and improve quality.

“Moving forward, it’s important that the medical profession learns lessons from the Bawa-Garba case, including how to handle errors. And as a College, we are working with our Trainees and Members’ Committee and the Recently Appointed Consultants Committee to aid and support all medical staff.

“It’s particularly important that the medical profession, including the GMC, support trainees, who as a result of the Bawa-Garba ruling are gravely concerned about what this means for their own reflective practice. Our Fellows and Members have advised us that they feel the regulatory bodies and institutions have a considerable way to go to achieve a more supportive environment for doctors throughout their careers.”.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658