GP commissioners face fines under new corporate manslaughter law

Services which result in patients' deaths could soon land the GPs who commissioned them in court.

Dr James Kingsland
Dr James Kingsland

GP understands that at least one practice has already left its practice-based commissioning (PBC) group because of concerns about its liability under new corporate manslaughter laws. The National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) has raised the issue with the DoH.

Dr James Kingsland, NAPC chairman, warned that GP organisations could be liable for huge sums not covered by their defence organisations. 

He warned that the costs of a prosecution run into the millions, and that GPs would need expensive insurance to indemnify themselves against claims. ‘In two or three years someone will die and we'll all be running scared,' he added.

At present manslaughter cases can only be prosecuted where personal responsibility can be shown. Large companies have thus often escaped prosecution for deaths. 

But the new Corporate Manslaughter Act, which comes into force in April for the UK, will create a broader crime under which organisations, such as partnerships, can be prosecuted for systemic failure.

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