The General Medical Council (GMC) must work hard to rebuild trust between the organisation and the medical professions, says one of the UK’s top doctors. The call comes in response to the publication of the “Independent review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide”, which was commissioned by the GMC and is published today (Thursday 6th June).
Professor Jackie Taylor, the President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow welcomed the publication of the report, but called for urgent action by government and NHS bodies to ensure that medical professionals have faith that justice will be served when tragic mistakes are made.
Speaking as the report was published, Professor Taylor said:
“Our whole profession was shocked by this case, which resulted in the tragic death of Jack Adcock and the subsequent prosecution of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba. Now we must learn lessons from this incident to ensure that we protect the best interests of patients and staff within the NHS.
“I’m glad that this report recognises that the actions of the GMC in this case undermined the trust that the medical profession has in our regulator. It will not be an easy task to rebuild this damaged relationship, but it’s vital that action is taken to build on the positive progress that has begun over the past year.
“Doctors must have confidence that the system is not loaded against them when mistakes are made. Developing a truly just ethos within the NHS means that we must all work together to create a learning environment, not a blame culture.
“We agree with the report that the GMC’s processes have been shown to be inadequate, and so we welcome the calls to update the legislation which underpins this. This must be brought forward by government as a matter of urgency. We also welcome the recommendation that action is required to ensure that reflective practice should be given legal protection. This would ensure the full transparency that is required to aid learning and improve the care that we all provide to our patients.
“It remains the case that the criminal threshold for the charge of gross negligence manslaughter in England and Wales remains lower than the equivalent charge of culpable homicide in Scotland. We believe that this report shows that the system in England and Wales can learn from the Scottish experience in developing a legal framework which encourages transparency and commands greater respect from victims, their families, and healthcare workers alike in ensuring that a just culture exists within our health service.
“Lessons must be learned from this case. The time for action is now.”