Health and Social Care Questions: 6th February 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. And you wear it well, Mr Speaker. [903796]

Mr Speaker
I do not know whether the right hon. Lady is referring to my age, a proposition on which I think the House would have to divide, or the rosette. [Interruption.] Yes, I thought she meant the rosette.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Mr Jeremy Hunt)
On the day that we mark the 100th anniversary of giving a voice to women, I want to update the House on concerns in the medical profession that we may not be giving a voice to doctors and other clinicians who want the freedom to be able to learn from mistakes. The House will know that, as a Government Minister, I cannot comment on a court ruling, but it is fair to say that the recent Dr Bawa-Garba case has caused huge concern, so today I can announce that I have asked Professor Sir Norman Williams, former president of the Royal College of Surgeons and my senior clinical adviser, to conduct a rapid review into the application of gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare.

Working with senior lawyers, Sir Norman will review how we ensure the vital role of reflective learning, openness and transparency is protected so that mistakes are learned from and not covered up, how we ensure that there is clarity about where the line is drawn between gross negligence manslaughter and ordinary human error in medical practice so that doctors and other health professionals know where they stand in respect of criminal liability or professional misconduct, and any lessons that need to be learned by the General Medical Council and other professional regulators. I will engage the devolved Administrations, the Justice Secretary and the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care in this vital review, which will report to me before the end of April 2018.

Anna Soubry
I thank the Secretary of State for that answer—or rather, for that statement—and also for the robust tweets that he makes on that and many other issues. Would he be amenable to the idea of following on Twitter the Oliver King Foundation? On the foundation’s advice, I have written to all the schools in Broxtowe urging them to install defibrillators. This is an important project. What assistance is the Department of Health giving to such an admirable charity and such an excellent project?

Mr Hunt
It is a fantastic charity. The boy concerned would have been 19 very shortly. It is a very sad story. I thank my right hon. Friend for her campaigning on this issue. We do indeed need to ensure that we have atrial fibrillators everywhere necessary to prevent these tragedies.