Selva Ramasamy QC acted as Legal Advisor to the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide, an independent review into how each of these serious offences is applied to medical practice. You can read the Review in full on the GMC's website, here.
The Review involved a working group of 12 leading individuals from the medical profession, the legal profession and patients’ organisations. Over a period of approximately 12 months, the Review looked into all the processes engaged in the aftermath of an unexpected patient death - including local hospital investigations, the coronial process, Procurator Fiscal investigations, police investigations, the criminal process, the use of expert evidence and the GMC’s processes.
The review also considered whether some groups of doctors with protected characteristics, in particular BAME doctors, are disproportionately vulnerable to allegations of gross negligence manslaughter or culpable homicide.
A huge range of oral and written evidence was gathered and considered. The Review considered the impact of such processes on patients and their families, doctors, and the public generally. The Review makes 29 Recommendations spanning all these processes and directed at a wide range of organisations.
The Review aims to improve patient safety. It also aims to encourage a "just culture" which recognises that doctors usually work as part of a system which is under pressure. In such circumstances, whilst occasionally prosecutions for these offences may be justified, an emphasis on "learning not blaming” is often the best way of ensuring ongoing patient safety.