Hunt orders review of criminalising doctors after Bawa-Garba case
Jeremy Hunt has ordered an urgent review of medical malpractice cases following concerns over a recent manslaughter case involving a doctor.
Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was struck off the medical register after she was found guilty of mistakes in the care of a six-year-old boy who died of sepsis.
The health secretary says clarity is needed about drawing the line between gross negligence and ordinary errors.
Doctors should learn from - not fear - mistakes, he says.
The Bawa-Garba case has rocked the medical profession.
More than 800 medics have signed an open letter in support of Dr Bawa-Garba, saying focusing on one person ignored the part low staffing levels played in the tragedy and striking her off would discourage medics from being open when reviewing mistakes.
Dr Bawa-Garba was originally suspended from the medical register for 12 months last June by a tribunal, but she has now been removed from the medical register following a High Court appeal by regulator the General Medical Council.
The GMC said the the original decision was "not sufficient to protect the public".
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The only way we can reduce mistakes in the NHS is to learn from every single one, and the tragic case of Dr Bawa-Garba raises many important questions about how the health system supports staff to be open and transparent when things go wrong."
The government's rapid review will be led by Prof Sir Norman Williams, former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and will report back by the end of April 2018.
It will look at:
- Any lessons that need to be learned by the General Medical Council and other professional regulators
- How learning, openness and transparency can be protected so that mistakes are learned from and not covered up
- Providing clarity to doctors about where they stand with respect to criminal liability and professional misconduct
When six-year-old Jack Adcock, from Glen Parva, Leicestershire, was admitted to the hospital in February 2011, his sepsis went undiagnosed and led to him suffering a cardiac arrest.
The courts heard Dr Bawa-Garba, a paediatrician, committed a "catalogue" of errors, including missing signs of his infection and mistakenly thinking Jack was under a do-not-resuscitate order.
At the time of the ruling, Jack's mother, Nicola, said: "We are absolutely elated with the decision. It's what we wanted.
"I know we'll never get Jack back but we have got justice for our little boy."
The Medical Protection Society, which represented Dr Bawa-Garba, said at the time: "A conviction should not automatically mean that a doctor who has fully remediated and demonstrated insight into their clinical failings is erased."
An online appeal set up by concerned doctors has raised more than £320,000 to help pay the legal costs of Dr Bawa-Garba.
Charlie Massey, chief executive of the General Medical Council, welcomed the announcement of the government's rapid review.