The Medical Defence Union (MDU) have just published an article questioning whether bringing manslaughter charges against doctors is of any value. They argue that it leads to a more closed and secretive information culture, reduced reporting of mistakes and fails as a deterrent.
Must say I agree with them. Almost all doctors do what they do to help their patients and most a e people of good conscience who would never purposely harm anyone.
Harold Shipman was an exception of course. His case doesn't highlight the medical profession but the appalling gaps in the system which allowed him to murder his patients. He wasn't an example of doctors, he was a demonstration of poor scrutiny.
All NHS deaths should be looked at closely both by the doctors who looked after the patient, so lessons can be learned, but also examined to ensure there is no negligence which can be avoided. Even in cases of proven negligence I am certain in my own mind that the responsible doctor would never have acted in that way had he known what the consequences were. I've been doing reports fot the courts on such matters for more than 25 years, so I have experience in this.
Bottom line, manslaughter is the causing of death in an unpremeditated fashion. All doctors make mistakes and seeking revenge on doctors who make mistakes helps no one. Better to pursue the matter through civil litigation to mitigate loss and allow the doctor's employer to consider whether the doctor should continue working in his present capacity or if he should re-train. The GMC's present culture seems to be aimed at convincing an ever more litigation-minded public that they are hard on doctors - a sort of public relations exercise.
I'm afraid I agree with the MDU - I don't believe medical negligence and legal inquisition are compatible.