The Doctors’ Association UK attended a roundtable meeting at the House of Lords this morning to address the growing concerns about bullying and harassment in the NHS. The meeting was organised by the General Medical Council (GMC), hosted by Dr Philippa Whitford MP and was attended by key stakeholders including Royal Colleges, NHS Employers, NHS Improvement, the BMA, MPs and Peers. Our members were represented by our Chair Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, Vice-Chair Dr Rinesh Parmar who is leading our work on NHS bullying and undermining and our Law and Policy Lead Dr Jenny Vaughan. This meeting brought together various streams of our work including #NHSMeToo, #CompassionateCulture and #LearnNotBlame.
Today, there is widespread relief amongst the medical profession. However, the verdict is no cause for celebration. At the heart of this case is a child, Jack Adcock, who tragically lost his life to sepsis. Our hearts go out to the Adcock family as they continue to grief for Jack. When a child dies it is our duty as doctors to do all we can to prevent the same tragedy from occurring again. We strongly feel that scapegoating an individual doctor or clinician for human errors made whilst whilst working under enormous pressure, does not serve this purpose. Instead, the criminalisation of medical error creates a culture of fear and blame, where clinicians feel afraid to speak up, afraid to reflect, and afraid to learn when things go wrong. Therefore we welcome the verdict of the Medical Tribunal Practitioners Service today, who, after considering all the system failures and the context in which Dr Bawa-Garba made errors, has found her safe to return to medical practice.
We are grateful to BMJ for publishing this paper, written by our Law and Policy Officer Dr Jenny Vaughan in conjunction with Dr Ameratunga, Dr Klonin Dr Merry and Dr Cusack, and giving it front page profile. We hope it will be a game-changer for the UK and that no other clinicians, be they doctors, nurses or optometrists will find themselves in front of a criminal court unless they have recklessly and wilfully caused death.
Dr Jenny Vaughan, our Law and Policy Officer gave a talk at ICS SOA 2018 entitled ‘Criminalisation of Healthcare. Does it improve patient safety?’. Jenny discussed the history of gross negligence manslaughter in the UK, case law, and revisited the case of Dr Bawa-Garba. You can now listen to Jenny’s full speech as a podcast on the ICS site, including advice on how doctors can avoid litigation.
‘When things go wrong, we crave something or someone to blame. It's an emotional response found in nearly every culture - but why is this something we all recognise?’
After a junior doctor was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter for mistakes made whilst working under intolerable pressure, a campaign for a just culture in the NHS was launched by DAUK. This campaign, Learn Not Blame, is lead by Dr Cicely Cunningham, a DAUK executive committee member. Listen to Cicely being interviewed by BBC World Service for The Why Factor in this episode about blame.
On the 24-25th of January 2019 both Drs Natalie Ashburner and Jenny Vaughan attended the Royal College of Psychiatrists Trainees Conference. DAUK Editor Dr Natalie Ashburner organised the event entitled Supported and Valued along with fellow psychiatric trainees. DAUK’s Law and Policy Officer Dr Jenny Vaughan also gave a talk entitled ‘the case for a just culture in healthcare’
On the 18th of January our Law and Policy Officer and founder of Manslaughter and Healthcare Dr Jenny Vaughan spoke to doctors about how they can reduce their risk of criminal prosecution. Jenny will also be talking to doctors about the Learn not Blame campaign for a just culture in the NHS and how they can get involved.