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RCOG response to the independent review into gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide

News 7 June 2019

The General Medical Council (GMC) has published an independent review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide. The GMC commissioned the review following the conviction of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba for gross negligence manslaughter.

Commenting in response to the report, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“The RCOG welcomes the recommendations in this review which offer the potential to help rebuild trust in the GMC and move the NHS away from blame towards a culture of learning.

“It is encouraging that many of the issues raised by the RCOG’s Supporting our Doctors campaign have been recognised and that recommendations have been made to tackle problems such as bullying and workplace culture.  We also welcome the recommendation that, when individuals are being criminally investigated, the wider systems around them must also be challenged, acknowledging the impact of systemic pressures on individual clinicians.

“While the vast majority of women and babies in the UK have good outcomes, obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) is a high-risk specialty. It is essential that when adverse outcomes occur, the processes that are applied are fair, just and good quality. These need to be consistently applied, well understood by clinicians, women and their families, and adequately resourced. We also welcome the review’s emphasis on investigation teams having the time and the appropriate experience, skills and competence to undertake investigations, and to involve families and staff, with the necessary degree of externality to ensure confidence in the process.

“Trainees in O&G report more bullying and undermining behaviour than any other medical specialty and 64% of O&G consultants say they have experienced or witnessed consultants being bullied. This is highly damaging for work-place culture and morale, adversely impacts recruitment and retention, and ultimately affects the quality of patient care.

“Therefore, we support the recommendation that the GMC should work with stakeholders to promote the importance of positive and inclusive cultures within the workplace, education and training environments.

“The RCOG is encouraged that so many of our concerns have been listened to and we welcome the review’s recommendations for positive change. We will continue to work closely with the GMC and other partner organisations to make the ambitions in this report a reality.”


Note to Editors

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email

The RCOG is committed to improving women’s health, and a strong and sustainable workforce is critical to achieving this. A recent report outlines the challenges facing the O&G profession, such as a high attrition rate close to 30%, and high reported rates of undermining and bullying. The report also highlights the commitments the RCOG has made to address these.

The RCOG’s Each Baby Counts initiative is a clinical improvement programme that aims to reduce baby deaths and brain injuries sustained during term birth in the UK. The latest report found that while there has been an increase in the number of parents who were invited to take part in local investigations of baby deaths, in almost a quarter of instances parents were not involved, or even made aware, of reviews taking place.