Update 30 July 2018

Dame Clare Marx has now stepped down as Chair of the review, as she will be taking up the role as Chair of the GMC from January 2019. Leslie Hamilton has been appointed as the new Chair of the review. Please see our press release for more information.

Dame Clare Marx to lead medical manslaughter review

The General Medical Council (GMC) review into how gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide (in Scotland) are applied to medical practice will be led by Dame Clare Marx.

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

"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

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.

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