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RCOG statement in response to Williams Review

News 11 June 2018

The RCOG responds to the publication of the Williams Review into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare which has been published by the Department of Health and Social Care today. 

Commenting in response to the review, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says:  

“The RCOG welcomes the publication of the Williams Review which makes a number of recommendations in order to provide clarity for healthcare professionals and improve patient safety.

We particularly welcome the commitment to develop clarity around the circumstances in which gross negligence manslaughter applies to healthcare settings and the recommendation to improve local incident investigations, as well as to ensure systematic factors – instead of just individual actions – are considered.

We also support the commitment to support bereaved families and to give them the opportunity to be involved in local investigations, as recommended by our Each Baby Counts clinical quality improvement programme which involves parents in the investigations of babies who died or were left severely disabled as a result of incidents during term labour.

Furthermore, we support a universal application to investigating incidents across medicine through the introduction of medical examiners nationally. Medical examiners are ideally placed to identify trends relating to deaths and highlight areas for further investigation, giving relatives the answers they deserve and improving care for future patients. Regarding stillbirth, we believe that all cases should be reported to a medical examiner for review instead of coroners in the first instance.

The RCOG will consider the report and all of its recommendations in detail and will publish a full statement shortly.”


Notes to editors:

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

About Each Baby Counts
Each Baby Counts is the RCOG’s national quality improvement programme to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour. In the UK, each year over 1000 babies die or are left with severe brain injury – not because they are born too soon or too small, or have a congenital abnormality, but because something goes wrong during labour. The RCOG does not accept that all of these are unavoidable tragedies, and with the Each Baby Counts project we are committed to reducing this unnecessary suffering and loss of life by 50% by 2020.

About the RCOG
The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @RCObsGyn.