RCoA responds to the Leslie Hamilton Review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide

In response to the Leslie Hamilton Independent Review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide, Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists said:

“We welcome the report by the Independent Review and the focus on working towards a just culture. We are especially pleased that the GMC has accepted all the recommendations in the report and we are heartened by the regulator’s commitment to rebuilding trust with the medical profession.

“While regulators can and should use a fair and sensitive approach to investigations, the shift towards a just culture in healthcare requires a multifaceted approach looking at all processes and organisations involved in these tragic cases.

“In our submissions to both this and the Williams Review, we have made the point that it cannot be just, with current knowledge of human factors and risk management, for an individual to be held solely culpable for tragedies that have been contributed to by systemic failings. We therefore strongly welcome the report’s recommendation for greater scrutiny of the systems, training environments and pressures experienced by a doctor at the time of incidents, as part of investigations.

“Even though changes in the law around medical negligence manslaughter and culpability are unlikely to be considered for England and Wales in the immediate future, there are opportunities, through a change in culture of the NHS, to offer better protection and support for doctors facing criminal investigations.

“We hope that the visions outlined in the Interim NHS People Plan and the NHS Long Term Plan for making the NHS a better place to work and the need for improving its leadership culture will stimulate the changes required towards achieving a truly just culture in the healthcare sector.”

06 June 2019