Dame Clare Marx to lead medical manslaughter review

Press Release

22 Feb 2018

The General Medical Council (GMC) review into how manslaughter by gross negligence –and the equivalent offence in the devolved nations– is applied to medical practice will be led by Dame Clare Marx.

Doctors are often working in an immensely pressurised system where mistakes can happen. This work will be valuable for the medical profession and I am pleased the GMC has decided to take this work forward.

Dame Clare Marx

Chair of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management, Dame Clare will lead the independent review to explore how gross negligence manslaughter cases – and the equivalent offence of culpable homicide in Scotland– are initiated and investigated in the UK.

The work will bring together defence organisations, patient, legal and criminal justice experts from across the UK to analyse how existing processes can be improved.

It will include looking at the pathway leading from reporting to investigation and prosecution; distinguishing between errors and exceptionally bad failings; the role of expert witnesses; and the need for reliable data to support a genuine understanding of incidence and trends.

It aims to support doctors in raising concerns and encourage reflective practice, while improving patient safety.

Dame Clare said: ‘Gross negligence manslaughter convictions involving medical professionals at work are rare but it is clear that there is a critical need to examine the wider issues around how these cases are initiated and investigated by the various agencies across the UK and the expertise and consistency applied to those investigations.

‘Each step of the process will be explored from local investigations post incidents, to diversity matters surrounding the doctors subject to investigation and whether regulatory processes at the GMC could be improved in such cases.

‘Doctors are often working in an immensely pressurised system where mistakes can happen. This work will be valuable for the medical profession and I am pleased the GMC has decided to take this work forward.’

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: ‘Dame Clare’s independent advice and her wealth of experience will be extremely valuable in pinpointing key areas that could be improved.

‘As well as addressing the issues with criminal prosecutions a further aim of this review is to encourage a renewed focus on enabling a learning, no-blame culture, reflective practice and provision of support for doctors in raising concerns.’

Dame Clare, the former Royal College of Surgeons of England President, has extensive experience working in the NHS and has held a number of senior posts including the associate Medical Director at Ipswich NHS Trust.

The Department of Health’s rapid review, announced on 6 February and the GMC’s work will inform each other.

The GMC aims to complete the review by the end of the year.

More information about the work and professionals involved will be confirmed shortly.


Notes to editors

Press release updated on Wednesday 14 March to include reference to the equivalent offence of culpable homicide in Scotland.

The GMC Press Office can be contacted on 020 7189 5454, or email  press@gmc-uk.org

The General Medical Council (GMC) works to protect the public by setting, upholding and raising the standards of medical education and practice across the UK.
It does this by:

  • Setting the standards doctors must follow, making sure they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • Deciding which doctors are qualified to work here, and overseeing UK medical education and training.
  • Taking action if a doctor is putting the safety of patients, or the public’s confidence in doctors, at risk.

It is in the public interest to have healthcare systems in the UK, both public and private, where doctors practise to the highest ethical and professional standards to provide the best possible, safe medical care.

The GMC is independent of government and the medical profession, and accountable to the UK Parliament.

To find out more visit our website www.gmc-uk.org.
Join us on Twitter (twitter.com/gmcuk), Facebook (facebook.com/gmcuk), LinkedIn (linkd.in/gmcuk), and YouTube (youtube.com/gmcuktv).