GMC response to recommendations made by the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related deaths

The General Medical Council (GMC) has responded to recommendations made by the Inquiry into Hyponatraemia-related deaths in a submission made to the Department of Health today (18 May 2018).

"All healthcare providers and organisations must learn from the heart-breaking events at the centre of the Inquiry’s report, which have caused years of suffering and stress for those families who lost children."

Charlie Massey

Chief Executive

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said:

‘All healthcare providers and organisations must learn from the heart-breaking events at the centre of the Inquiry’s report, which have caused years of suffering and stress for those families who lost children.

‘It is vital we all act so families do not have to suffer such avoidable tragedies in future.

‘The report rightly focused on the need to promote honesty and transparency, with patient safety at the centre of each recommendation, and we support the aims of Mr Justice John O’Hara’s 96 proposals.

‘We particularly welcome the emphasis placed on the need to strengthen local reporting and investigations of serious adverse incidents.

‘However, there may be a risk of unintended consequences from a small number of the recommendations relevant to our responsibilities and we believe there may be more collaborative ways to achieve the cultural change envisioned.

‘In particular, the recommendation that ‘Foundation doctors should not be employed in children’s wards’, may actually deter doctors considering training in Northern Ireland or lead to some de-skilling of the future medical workforce.

‘It’s important that all doctors have the opportunity to deal with complex situations during their training. Concerns are best addressed through local action and stronger leadership and oversight, rather than a blanket ban, and we have the power to take action where training and supervision falls below standards.

‘Additionally, we support a statutory duty of candour, but believe it is best applied at an institutional level, rather than at an individual level where we think a professional duty is more appropriate. This would be consistent with the approach in the other three UK countries and we think will best help foster a learning, reflective culture in healthcare.

‘Cultural change must come from the top and, as the report astutely suggests, ‘the highest priority should be accorded the development and improvement of leadership skills’. We need strong leaders to light the way and encourage doctors to be open and honest about their mistakes.

‘Patients need doctors who are enabled to provide good care and we’re committed to working with healthcare leaders in Northern Ireland in developing supportive workplaces.

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