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Former RCS Presidents to lead medical manslaughter reviews

22 Feb 2018

The General Medical Council has today announced that Dame Clare Marx, past president of the Royal College of Surgeons, will chair a review of how manslaughter by gross negligence is applied to medical practice across the four nations of the UK.

It is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will inform a second separate review the Department of Health is conducting into whether gross negligence manslaughter laws are fit for purpose in healthcare in England. This review will be led by Professor Sir Norman Williams, who is also a past president of the RCS. 

Commenting on the reviews, an RCS spokesperson said:

“We welcome the announcement that the former RCS Presidents Dame Clare Marx and Professor Sir Norman Williams will lead these reviews.  Between them they have a wealth of experience in clinical practice and NHS leadership roles.

“The reviews provide an opportunity to examine how manslaughter by gross negligence is applied to medical practice in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Crucially, they could identify important learning opportunities and shed light on how cases are initiated and investigated.

“The case of Dr Bawa-Garba has caused great concern among doctors. Our health and legal systems must protect patients from avoidable and unnecessary harm, while also providing clarity about the difference between gross negligence manslaughter and basic human error in medical practice.  Health professionals need to know where they stand in relation to criminal liability and professional misconduct. We also need an open, no-blame culture in the NHS – where clinicians feel able to talk about their practice so the whole medical team can learn from the experiences of others.”


Notes to editors

  1. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.


  2. For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office Telephone: 020 7869 6052/6047; email:; or for out-of-hours media enquiries: 07966 486832.


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