When healthcare becomes a crime. Lessons from the world of medical manslaughter’ - Dr Jenny Vaughan Event as iCalendar

25 March 2019

5:30 - 6:30pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 505-007, Ground floor, Building 505, FMHS

Location: 85 Park Road, Grafton Campus

Image of Dr Jenny Vaughan
Dr Jenny Vaughan


Delivery of safe healthcare currently faces unprecedented challenges in the UK and globally. This arises, at least partly, from a rising involvement of the criminal law in the investigation of medical errors apparently conflicting with the need to respect a “duty of candour”. As a result, doctors face enormous pressures in fear of being blamed for medical errors. David Sellu is a consultant surgeon who was convicted for gross negligence manslaughter in late 2013 after the death of a patient in a private hospital.

Dr Vaughan was the medical lead for a group of David Sellu's friends as we launched a campaign to overturn his conviction. There has never been a successful 'out of time' appeal in this area of the law so we were dealing with almost impossible odds from the start. The positive result was extraordinary, both for David and our whole profession (www.medicalmanslaughter.co.uk)

Since these events, grass roots support, both nationally and internationally, has grown from thousands of healthcare in support of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba. She is a trainee paediatrician who was convicted of manslaughter in 2014 after the death of a child in Leicester (UK). Thousands of frontline medical staff crowd-funded a campaign and successfully overturned a court decision to erase her from the UK medical register. Her case proved to be a lightning rod in the UK for a profession at breaking point. At the Doctor’s Association UK (DAUK, @TheDA_UK) we have worked with national organisations and the media in order to highlight how healthcare staff are working on critically under-staffed wards and in under-resourced departments, with an increasingly unmanageable workload.

DAUK have since launched a ‘Learn Not Blame’ campaign to improve safety for patients and healthcare professionals. They believe that the involvement of the criminal justice system in these cases often does not allow an appreciation of the interplay of individuals within complex health systems. They also remain particularly concerned that a recent analysis of conviction trends shows an excessive conviction rate of black and minority ethnic (BME) healthcare staff.



Jenny has conducted multiple interviews on mainstream media in recent weeks vocalising the concerns of the whole profession with respect to medical manslaughter. She has published widely-read articles on this subject and contributed to the recent government and GMC enquires into Gross Negligence Manslaughter and its impact on healthcare. Jenny has been an invited speaker at multiple events on gross negligence manslaughter, including the RCP annual conference last year.

Jenny has conducted surveys (for the last three years in order to understand the impact of the criminal law on healthcare, especially after the conviction and erasure of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba. These surveys have informed law-makers, politicians, the media, the BMA, the royal colleges and the medical profession in general. Jenny co-founded the only UK online resource for anyone to access who wishes to know more about the charges of gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare www.medicalmanslaughter.co.uk 5).

Jenny's work in bringing those in the field together was published and recently cited editorially in the BMJ. She was also awarded the BMJ editors award for “Speaking Truth to Power.”

Jenny has become a leading voice of the medical profession on this subject. Her intention is to work with others to continuously improve patient safety.


Please RSVP your attendance to this event to d.beaumont@auckland.ac.nz by Monday 18 March.