Williams Review into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare

Our response to the Williams Review, April 2018


The consultation

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced on 6 February 2018 that he was asking Professor Sir Norman Williams to conduct a rapid policy review into the issues pertaining to gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare.

The AOP’s response

We welcome the opportunity to provide evidence to the Williams Review. This note focuses on the Review’s remit to ensure that reflective learning, openness and transparency is protected. We would of course be happy to discuss our views with the Review team if that would be helpful.

Reflective learning, openness and optometry

The GOC sets standards for individual optometrists and DOs, which include requirements for practitioners to reflect on their practice and to be candid when things have gone wrong . We support our members in complying with the GOC’s standards, and in dealing with GOC fitness to practise (FTP) investigations. Our members can and do include reflective statements in the evidence they provide to GOC investigations, and in our experience this evidence is often helpful to practitioners, patients and the GOC itself.

The GOC’s statutory scheme for the Continuing Education and Training (CET) of optometrists does not currently require formal reflection by registrants, except in the context of peer review. However, we have called for the scheme to be reformed to promote a culture of reflective learning . The GOC has recently said it wants the scheme to focus more on encouraging continuing professional development, and we welcome this.

Encouraging more reflection and openness among healthcare professionals is clearly to the benefit of both practitioners and patients, in optics as elsewhere. We therefore think it is vital that the Government and the healthcare professional regulators ensure that the use of reflection and openness is not compromised by the regulators’ fitness to practise (FTP) decisions, or by the application of the law on gross negligence manslaughter in the healthcare context. 

If you would like any more information, please contact a member of the policy team on [email protected].

  1. See GOC individual standards 5.4 and 19
  2. See our January 2018 response to the Department of Health’s consultation on reforming the regulation of healthcare professionals, question 12