New measures to protect doctors’ mistakes

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to announce new measures to improve patient safety and protect doctors and nurses when mistakes are made.

Following the much-publicised case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock, a government review has been held with a raft of new measures set to be implemented.

The measures include: the investigation of every hospital death by a medical examiner or coroner; data on doctors' performance will allow them to see how they compare to others to help them improve; and the General Medical Council no longer being able to appeal against the findings of doctors' disciplinary hearings.

The review was carried out by Professor Norman Williams, who said that ‘a clearer understanding’ of when manslaughter charges should be brought in healthcare ‘should lead to fewer criminal investigations’, and that criminal investigations should be confined ‘to just those rare cases where an individual's performance is so 'truly exceptionally bad' that it requires a criminal sanction’.

Hunt has stressed that improving patient safety means doctors and other staff must be able to reflect openly and freely when they have made ordinary mistakes, instead of being punished for them.

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