The Williams review into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare has recommended revoking the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) right to appeal fitness-to-practise decisions by its Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service.
The review, which was established in February 2016 following the controversial Hadiza Bawa-Garba case, said removing the GMC’s right to appeal “will help address mistrust that has emerged between the GMC and the doctors that it regulates”. The Professional Standards Authority will retain its right to appeal these cases to ensure public protection, in the same way that it does for the other eight regulatory bodies for healthcare professionals.
The GMC will no longer be able to require registrants to provide reflective material when investigating fitness-to-practise cases. The recommendation is designed to ensure that “healthcare professionals are not afraid to use their notes for open, honest reflection which supports improvements in patient care”.
The panel has also recommended that concerns about the over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic doctors in fitness-to-practise cases must be “investigated, understood and addressed”.
Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that the GMC’s right to appeal decisions had resulted in a lack of confidence in the regulator and had an unanticipated impact on the willingness of doctors, especially trainees, to reflect fully on their practice.
Revised guidance for investigators and prosecutorial bodies is recommended to ensure a clearer understanding that a judgement of gross negligence manslaughter is for rare cases when performance is “truly exceptionally bad”. Systematic issues and human factors should be taken into account alongside the actions of an individual when errors lead to death, according to the report of the review panel, published this week.