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The crime of wilful neglect now protects all women

02 October 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 10

The Government has put into law a recommendation of the National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England (2013) that called for a new statutory criminal offence of wilful neglect covering all women, regardless of age or decision-making capacity. The call to criminalise ill treatment or wilful neglect for all groups echoed the view of the official inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, that more criminal sanctions should be available to prosecute poor care (Mason, 2013).

Ill treatment is given its ordinary English meaning and so includes any behaviour that a court would reasonably consider to be abusive (R v Strong [2014]). Neglect occurs when a nurse or midwife fails to do what he or she would be expected to do in the care and treatment of a person in his or her care. This has been held to include: falsifying records, failing to give medication, failing to provide CPR (Griffith, 2013). To be wilful, it must also be deliberate.

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