HCSA applauds plan for new legal protections for hospital doctors

HCSA has today applauded a government commitment to push through legal changes enshrining greater protections for medical professionals.

The government has confirmed it is to pursue two of the key demands of hospital doctors exposed by regulator the General Medical Council’s (GMC) handling of the case of trainee Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba:

• Removing the GMC’s right to appeal decisions of its own Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to the High Court
• Modifying the GMC’s powers to demand access to reflective practice material for fitness to practice purposes

These were key demands made by HCSA and others in order to restore professional trust in the handling of disciplinary cases and ensure hospital doctors are able to reflect on their practice openly and without fear of self-incrimination.

The Williams Review commissioned by the government in 2018 also recommended action on these points.

HCSA’s medical lead on Medical Gross Negligence Manslaughter Dr John West said: “This is a sign that the government will, finally, be legislating for these long-awaited changes which will go some way to correcting the current fundamentally flawed situation.

“The culture of fear created by the GMC’s aggressive pursuit of Bawa-Garba has not subsided and the architect, GMC Chief Executive Charlie Massey, has faced no sanction despite his central role in the debacle.

“But this is undoubtedly good news which resolves some of the key procedural issues exposed by the case.

“The primacy of the MPTS, to decide on appropriate sanction or otherwise for doctors facing fitness to practice proceedings, is essential.

“Equally, the need for reflective practice to take place in an open way without fear of recrimination is a vital component of learning for doctors.

“HCSA shall now be seeking to ensure that the government follows through on its pledge.”