Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Jenny Vaughan: Overturning injustice

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 14 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1024
Duncan Smith


Jenny Vaughan, 50, is a consultant neurologist in London. She is a leading campaigner for reforming the law on gross negligence manslaughter when applied to people working in healthcare. She articulated the unease many people felt at the conviction of the surgeon David Sellu and, as campaign chair for his appeal, was instrumental in getting his conviction overturned. Along with Sellu’s legal team she is widely credited for having modernised the law in this area. She has been equally vocal in defence of Hadiza Bawa-Garba and was a leading supporter of her successful bid against erasure. Vaughan’s contributions helped shape the conclusions of the Williams review in June 2018.1 She now campaigns for a “just culture” in healthcare and for improvements to patient safety by working with the Doctor’s Association UK (DAUK) and the BMA. In 2018 she received the BMJ editor’s award for speaking truth to power.

What single change would you most like to see made to the NHS?

Patient safety should always come first. We need to bring in a truly just culture so that errors are discussed openly and everyone can learn from mistakes.

How is your work-life balance?

Better than it was. Being a workaholic is never the right way …

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