Criminal responsibility for professional negligence is a topic that has been and continues to be exercised by jurisprudential minds for decades. The basic concept seems to be that, not only civil liability and professional punishment, but also criminal liability including manslaughter, a medic who is ‘grossly negligent’ may incur. The facts are still of prime importance. In the operating room, a momentary, however lethal, error does not equate to a criminal act. Intentional or careless conduct leading to death may, however, give rise to criminal liability.
On this theory, how can we judge physicians , nurses and ward staff who, knowingly, purposely, and repeatedly, deprive patients of basic care and assistance to the point of death where no death should have occurred, and not only against the patient’s continuous imploration, but often against the patient’s entire family’s voluble grievances and protests.
Penal negligence? So I will say. To me, it seems to be more than ample grounds for indictment there. (Also read)
And where such ‘carers’ are governed by the General Medical Council and the Council of Nursing and Midwifery, how have these professional bodies’ disciplinary committees not hauled up those who so flagrantly breached their ‘en masse’ professional codes of conduct and, er, yes……held them professionally accountable?
And what about the governors and the trust directors responsible for delivering the rights and expectations constitutional of the NHS?
They should not be financially liable personally for damages in their role as trustees for breach of confidence. There are limits to the principle set out in section 31 of the Trustee Act 2000 that a guilty trustee is entitled to be indemnified from the wealth of the trust. Surely, the concept of compensation does not extend to any trustee who, knowingly, willfully, or simply recklessly, breaks the standards of care that he or she is responsible for upholding.
If directors and managers may be charged criminally and receive custodial sentences and significant penalties for failure to uphold occupational safety standards according to the Health and Safety at Work Act, why should not the governors and directors of NHS Foundation Trusts and those bodies whose job it is to control those trusts also be responsible for criminal prosecution for breach of st.
The late, lamented “Mickey” Dias, QC, Emeritus Professor of Magdelene College, my lecturer in the Law of Tort at Cambridge, a very precise and thorough mind indeed, opened and, in the same breath, ended his first lecture on Tort with the words: “First, there is a duty of care.” Instead, the duty of responsibility is falling short. Truly, that’s everything you need to hear about it.’ Beyond these basic terms, I think he would not have needed to elaborate to encapsulate the essence of ‘accountability’.
Although ‘scape-goating’ has no merit, all persons liable, or in whole part, for causing death by deliberate or careless negligence, should be punished and held accountable to the fullest extent of criminal and civil law and to the fullest extent of their separate regulatory bodies.
The primary obligation must be human, not institutional or governmental, when it is a question of life and death.
Let’s get rid of the defence of ‘systemic failure’ and start bringing people to book.
Your fault is that. That is my responsibility.