Hospital Dr News

GMC in the spotlight after Bawa-Garba re-instated to medical register

The reinstatement of Dr Bawa-Garba to the medical register by the Court of Appeal calls into the question the GMC’s handling of the case.

That’s the view of the BMA and some royal colleges, which accuse the regulator of having lost the confidence of doctors.

Dr Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor in paediatrics, was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of a six-year-old boy in her care.

She was held responsible for the death of Jack Adcock, who suffered heart failure after going into septic shock while in her care at Leicester Royal infirmary in 2011.

She was removed from the medical register in January, after the GMC appealed a decision by the MPTS that she be suspended for a year. But three appeal court judges ruled on Monday that the divisional court had been wrong to interfere with the earlier decision.

In a statement read out to the court, Sir Terence Etherton, the master of the rolls, said: “The [medical practitioners tribunal service] was an expert body entitled to reach [its] conclusions, including the important factor weighing in favour of Dr Bawa-Garba that she is a competent and useful doctor, who represents no material continuing danger to the public and can provide considerable useful future service to society.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, welcomed the Appeal Court decision.

He said: “We hope that Dr Bawa-Garba will now rightly be given space to resume her career.

“The GMC’s successful high court appeal in January, which overturned the MPTS’s 12-month suspension of Dr Bawa-Garba and resulted in her erasure from the medical register, caused widespread alarm amongst doctors and undermined the role of the Medical Practitioners Tribunals Service.

“We know that doctors going through MPT hearings find it stressful enough and the perception of a risk of double jeopardy can only exacerbate this problem.”

A recent review into manslaughter by gross negligence lent support to the MPTS and called for the removal of the GMC’s right of appeal of MPTS decisions – which has subsequently been approved by the Government.

Many in the profession felt that systemic failures were to blame for the boy’s tragic death, and it was wrong to blame an individual. Doctors also felt the GMC’s pursuance of an individual doctor compromised the ‘open, learning’ culture the NHS is trying to foster.

Nagpaul added: “The case also raises serious questions over the GMC’s ill-judged handling of the case. As a regulator it has lost the confidence of doctors and must now act to rectify their relationship with profession.

“Lessons must be learnt from this case which raises wider issues about the multiple factors that affect patient safety in an NHS under extreme pressure rather than narrowly focusing only on individuals.

“Today’s judgement is a wake-up call for the Government that action is urgently needed to properly resource the NHS and address the systemic pressures and constraints that doctors are working under and which compromise the delivery of high-quality, safe patient care.”

Bawa-Garba told the BBC’s Panorama: “I’m very pleased with the outcome, but I want to pay tribute and remember Jack Adcock, a wonderful little boy that started the story. I want to let the parents know that I’m sorry for my role in what has happened to Jack.”

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