RCGP warns over “culture of blame”

THE Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that an unintended consequence of the recent Bawa-Garba case could be a “regression to a blame culture”.

In January the High Court ruled that Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba could be struck off the GMC register because of mistakes in the care of Jack Adcock. In 2015 Dr Bawa-Garba was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of the six-year-old boy.

Following recent discussion of the case at UK Council, RCGP Chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: "Dr Bawa-Garba's case has shaken the entire medical community in the UK - it is now essential that lessons are learnt from this case, and are used to shape the future of medical practice in the best interests of NHS staff and patient care.

"We must never forget that at the centre of this tragic case is Jack Adcock, the child who died, and first and foremost our thoughts are with his family. But the case has also caused considerable anxiety for GPs, particularly GP trainees, who are worried about the repercussions of the ruling and how it might affect the way they practise in future.

"It is essential that supportive systems are in place for GPs and our teams to recognise and report errors that occur, and reflect on them so that we can learn and take steps to reduce the chance of them happening again. RCGP Council is very concerned that instead of promoting an open culture focused on learning from errors by improving systems, the unintended consequence of this tragic case could be regression to a blame culture.

"We have shared guidance with our trainees on how to reflect in the safest possible way, and we stand by our advice that reflecting openly and honestly is an essential part of GP training and continued professional development - as well as the best defence for doctors, if they do make mistakes. We will also be looking at our own processes, to make sure we are providing the best possible pastoral support we can for our members.

"There was considerable concern at Council over the GMC's approach to Dr Bawa-Garba's case, and the way it was handled, and the College will be raising this with the regulator directly."