The case of Dr. Bawa-Garba has been very controversial and resulted in a social media storm, lots of press and commentary, and real concern in the medical profession. It has raised many issues for the medical workforce not least about how safe it feels to work in a busy department that is under-resourced and where the systems can let you down. Many feel worried about whether their employing Trust will support them when systems go wrong and are also questioning the GMC’s decisions regarding Dr Bawa-Garba.

As professionals, all doctors want to do their best and are afraid of making errors but we know that “To Err is Human”. Much hard work over the last decade has resulted in a culture that was becoming more open and collaborative. The GMC promotes it, Jeremy Hunt promotes it – we all know how important it is. The discussion of incidents has become normal and owning up to mistakes has been encouraged so that learning can take place. Much has been made of a “no-blame culture”. Ensuring the culture and climate is one which promotes openness, discussion and learning rather than one that is threatening, punitive and blaming has taken a lot of hard work and encouragement. My hope is that the case of Dr Bawa-Garba will not reverse all that hard work and that the managers and leads will make a great effort to reinforce a climate of psychological safety so that doctors (and other staff) feel comfortable raising concerns and asking for help.

Click Here to listen to a discussion between me and Dr Nadeem Moghal, Medical Director (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust), about the importance of psychological safety and how to work towards re-establishing it in the light of the case of Dr Bawa-Garba.

by Dr. Megan Joffe