In February we wrote a legal update on the case of General Medical Council v Dr Bawa-Garba. This was a case in which the GMC appealed the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to suspend Dr Bawa Garba, who had been found guilty in a criminal trial of gross manslaughter, for one year. The High Court decided to uphold the appeal of the GMC and to substitute the sanction of erasure for that of suspension.

This case gave rise to much discussion and outcry in the UK from medical professionals and their representative bodies. In response to this decision and the complex issues it raised, the UK government commissioned a rapid policy review into the prosecution of doctors for gross negligence manslaughter and the related work of professional regulators. “Gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare- The report of a rapid policy review” has now been published.

Our colleagues in DAC Beachcroft in England have recently published an update on the Review which can be read in full here. The Review will be of interest to Irish professional regulators as well as Irish regulated professionals and their representatives, not only in relation to its recommendations concerning the investigation and prosecution of gross manslaughter, but also in relation to its recommendations on the work of professional regulators in the following areas:

  • The co-ordination of investigations and quality of expert witness evidence.
  • How professional regulators should approach reflective writing by professionals in the course of its investigations.
  • The role of professional regulators and the Professional Standards Authority (the “PSA”), including:
  • The removal of the GMC’s parallel power to appeal decisions of the MPTS,
  • The publication of guidance by the PSA and professional regulators to support understanding and consistency of decision making on "public confidence”,
  • The training of fitness to practise committee members in equality and diversity, and
  • A review by the PSA in relation to the effect of lack of legal representation on outcomes in fitness to practise proceedings both in general and as part of considering the risk of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic registrants being less likely to have access to representation.