Responding to the verdict in the Lucy Letby trial, Professor Phil Banfield, BMA Chair of Council, said:
“These dreadful crimes have shocked the nation. That they could have happened within the NHS and in some cases after warnings were raised by consultant doctors must be a cause of the deepest concern and leads to hard questions being asked that demand answers about how this was possible.
“This case has brought to focus the adverse challenges and experiences that doctors, and other healthcare professionals, face when they identify and act on concerns about patient safety. We are committed to supporting doctors who bravely highlight when something is wrong and continue to support our members who were involved in giving evidence during this highly distressing case.
“It is of fundamental importance that doctors are able to speak out without fear of backlash and with the assurance that concerns will be investigated, promptly, thoroughly and without bias or preconceived assumptions, then escalated appropriately and acted upon especially when patient safety is or may be at risk. Doctors have a professional obligation to report concerns and do so in the interests of patients and other colleagues, so that lives can be saved and positive changes can be made to prevent future harm.
“It is vital that any inquiry looks carefully at how concerns of the most senior doctors were handled and able to be dismissed, which perpetuated this horrific and catastrophic series of events.
“The BMA has been clear that the NHS and the whole healthcare system must have an open culture where doctors are listened to and can be confident in speaking out. We have long called for non-clinical managers in the NHS and other health service providers to be regulated, in line with the manner in which clinical staff are by professional bodies.
“Our thoughts go out to the families and staff involved in this heart-breaking case. We must now leave no stone unturned to make sure this can never happen again.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.