Former RCGP chair named in GMC manslaughter review panel

Former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada has been named in an expert panel set up by the GMC to review gross negligence manslaughter (GNM) in healthcare following the Bawa-Garba case.

Professor Clare Gerada
Professor Clare Gerada

Terms of reference for the independent review commissioned by the GMC - to be led by orthopaedic surgeon and former Royal College of Physicians president Dame Clare Marx - were announced in March.

The review will consider whether GNM cases properly take account of the role system pressures can play in cases when patients die, and look at how GMC guidance and communication around reflective practice could be improved. It will look at what happens after a fatal incident; the impact of criminal investigations; inquiries by a coroner, procurator fiscal or sheriff; and the regulatory process and GMC fitness to practise procedures.

The equivalent offence of culpable homicide in Scotland will be scrutinised by the review; along with findings of the Williams Review on GNM in healthcare announced by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt last month. Findings from the Marx review will be published early in 2019.

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Earlier this month, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey warned that doctors faced a postcode lottery over GNM prosecutions - with wide variation in how the law was applied across the UK and within England.

Professor Gerada is one of 10 experts appointed to help Dame Clare lead the review. Speaking exclusively to GPonline earlier this year, the former RCGP chair revealed that 1,100 GPs had sought help for stress and burnout-related problems from the GP Health Service she helped to establish during its first full year in operation.

She said at the time: 'We have many cases similar to that of Dr Bawa-Garba. Doctors who have made errors and been erased and not made the headlines. She has come at a tipping point. We have pointed out the disproportionate nature of some of the cases.'

Manslaughter review

Dame Clare said: ‘The wealth of knowledge and experience of the working group members will be hugely valuable for the review into how GNM and culpable homicide cases are dealt with, and what can be improved.

‘As a group we are committed to exploring every avenue to promote a no blame culture and encouraging a renewed focus on reflective practice and learning. It will be a difficult challenge, but I am confident that my colleagues on this working group are the ideal team to achieve this.’

Other members of the panel include former BMA president Professor Pali Hungan - a primary care and general practice professor - along with a cardiac surgeon, a clinical negligence expert, a senior nurse, lawyers and others.

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