Review on gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide - recommendations for employers

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An independent review into gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide has been published today, focusing on how medical regulation can be improved to support a more just and fair culture.

The review, commissioned in January 2018 by the General Medical Council (GMC) and chaired by Leslie Hamilton, saw engagement with health stakeholders across the UK including doctors, doctors’ organisations, patients and their families, patient organisations, healthcare providers and regulators.

A total of 29 recommendations have been made for a range of organisations, aimed at the better application of a just and fair culture when things go wrong.

Recommendations for employers include:

  • Following an unexpected death, there should be close adherence to the professional and statutory duty of candour to be open and honest with the family of the deceased.
  • All healthcare service providers should have clear policies and a named lead to ensure consistent implementation of policies in line with the relevant national frameworks ensuring families and staff have the required support between an unexpected death and the start of a patient safety investigation
  • The GMC should work with healthcare service providers, national bodies and representatives of overseas doctors to develop a suite of support for doctors new to UK practice.
  • To ensure confidence in fair decision making, relevant healthcare sector organisations (including the GMC) should have published measures and aspirations for diverse workforce representation in key roles and at all levels involved in decision making.
  • Relevant healthcare sector organisations (including the GMC) should have in place appropriate methods of assurance of fair decision making, including (but not limited to) equality, diversity and inclusion training, unconscious bias training, auditing and monitoring.
  • Healthcare service providers should provide support and guidance for doctors who are involved in an inquest or fatal accident inquiry so that they have an appropriate understanding of the process and their role in proceedings.
  • The GMC should work with the medical trade unions, medical defence organisations, healthcare service providers, education and training bodies and other professional bodies to explore how doctors under investigation might be better supported.
  • Healthcare service providers should provide induction and support for all doctors returning to clinical practice after a period of significant absence.

The full report, including all recommendations, is available to download and read from the GMC website.

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