Jeremy Hunt says doctors must be allowed to discuss mistakes
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said doctors need to be able to reflect openly and freely about mistakes they have made.
He was speaking on the Today programme following the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was struck off after being found guilty of the manslaughter by gross negligence of a six-year-old boy.
Mr Hunt warned of the “unintended consequences” of the ruling.
Patients would be safer if doctors were able to learn from mistakes, he said.
“In medicine, all over the world there are always going to be mistakes made,” Mr Hunt told the BBC.
“For patients to be safe, we need doctors to be able to reflect completely openly and freely about what they have done, to learn from mistakes, to spread best practice around the system, to talk openly with their colleagues.
“I want to make sure doctors are able to do that.”
‘Protect the public’
Earlier, he tweeted that he recognised it was not appropriate for government ministers to criticise court rulings.
However, he said he was concerned about the consequences of the decision for doctors and patients.
Dr Bawa-Garba was originally suspended from the medical register for 12 months last June by a tribunal, but she has now been removed from the medical register following a High Court appeal by the General Medical Council.
The GMC said the the original decision was “not sufficient to protect the public”.
In December more than 700 medics signed an open letter in support of Dr Bawa-Garba, saying focusing on one person ignored the part low staffing levels played in the tragedy and striking her off would discourage medics from being open when reviewing mistakes.
In his interview, Mr Hunt said: “If we are going to keep patients safe then we have to make sure that doctors are able to learn from mistakes.”