§ The Solicitor-General
[holding answer 24 July 2002]: It is extremely difficult to give precise figures. Before 1993, prosecutions were recorded by the name of the defendant and not by the defendant's occupation.
In 1993 a new case-tracking system was introduced by the CPS which allowed prosecutions for manslaughter arising from gross medical negligence to be recorded. But these figures do not distinguish between doctors and other medical staff.
Bearing in mind these caveats, the CPS has estimated that since 1994 twelve doctors have been prosecuted for "medical" manslaughter. Of those, eight were acquitted of all charges and four were convicted of at least one count on the indictment.
There are no central records of the cost of prosecuting particular categories of case.
The principles applied by Crown prosecutors when deciding whether the prosecution of a doctor, or of any other person, is justified are set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The prosecutor must be satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction. If there is sufficient evidence the prosecutor goes on to consider whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest. Because manslaughter is such a serious offence, if the evidence is sufficient to justify proceedings a prosecution would normally follow. Cases involving allegations of "medical" manslaughter are considered by the Casework Directorate at CPS headquarters rather than by the CPS Area in which the death occurred.