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← High Court rules Catholic Church liable over priests

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Stevehill

tmaxwell83

So this must mean that the NHS or an associated governing body has been held accountable for Harold Shipman's actions.

Have they/Has one?

As noted above, British general practitioners are self-employed. They may derive much of their income from the NHS but will also be paid from other sources (e.g. privately administering holiday jabs; attending as the doctor on call at a local sporting event....)

A doctor who murdered someone whilst working in an NHS hospital e.g. using NHS equipment or drugs probably would result in the NHS being liable. This is known as vicarious liability.

It does not mean we send the Health Minister to jail for life. It does mean the NHS is liable to pay compensation and, in an extreme case, a criminal charge of corporate manslaughter could be brought if e.g. the action were predictable (the doctor was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic say) and the employer did nothing to manage or eliminate the risk to patients.

The fact that the UK might go down this route does not mean the Vatican would accept such a ruling. In the long haul, the Vatican's (threadbare, IMO) claim to being a state, and therefore sovereign as regards its own laws, could become highly material here.

Thu, 10 Nov 2011 07:05:24 UTC | #889164