Intended for healthcare professionals


Medical manslaughter: independent review calls for root and branch reform of cases

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 06 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4106
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

An independent review of medical manslaughter cases in the UK has called for root and branch reforms, ranging from local investigations to regulatory action by the General Medical Council (GMC), to ensure a “learning not blame” culture that is fair to patients and doctors.1

The review was chaired by Leslie Hamilton, a cardiac surgeon, and was commissioned by the GMC after the case of the paediatric trainee Hadiza Bawa-Garba sent shockwaves through the profession.

“Doctors were suddenly afraid,” said Hamilton. “It was described as a toxic fear spreading through the profession.”

Bawa-Garba was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of 6 year old Jack Adcock and given a two year suspended sentence. She was suspended from practice for 12 months by a medical practitioners tribunal, but the GMC appealed to the High Court, which struck her off the medical register. Bawa-Garba took her case to the Court of Appeal, which reinstated her to the register.2

Hamilton commented, “What …

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