Struck-off Dr Bawa-Garba wins appeal

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The Court of Appeal has overturned the General Medical Council’s (GMC) decision to strike off Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

In the judgement handed down yesterday, the Court of Appeal ruled that that the original decision to suspend Bawa-Garba for 12 months following her prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter over the death of Jack Adcock was correct.

The GMC struck off Bawa-Garba in January, after a criminal court ruled that it was her “catalogue of errors” that left Jack Adcock’s sepsis undiagnosed. She was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, following his death.

Following her conviction, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal suspended Bawa-Garba for 12 months, but the GMC appealed against the decision and called for her to be struck off. The High Court agreed and Bawa-Garba was no longer allowed to practise.

In coming to its decision, the Court of Appeal said that the tribunal didn’t disrespect the jury in Bawa-Garba’s trial when it suspended her. Instead, it conducted an evaluative exercise to determine what sanction was most appropriate to protect the public in all the circumstances, as it was supposed to do.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at the Medical Protection Society (MPS), welcomed the decision. He said: “We are very pleased the appeal submitted by Dr Bawa-Garba’s legal team has been successful. MPS supported Dr Bawa-Garba for seven years; we know how much this will mean to her, and to the profession. The strength of feeling on this case amongst our members and the wider healthcare community has been unprecedented.”

He added: “It is vital that lessons are now learned to avoid other doctors having to go through the same ordeal. A gross negligence manslaughter conviction should not automatically mean that a doctor who has remediated and demonstrated insight into their clinical failings is erased. The removal of the GMC’s power to appeal MPTS decisions—a recommendation by Sir Norman Williams which was accepted by the government—must also take effect quickly.”

“While we await the introduction of the necessary legislation, the GMC should publicly commit to stop using their power of appeal immediately. This would be a real statement of intent from the GMC as it seeks to regain the trust of the profession. Swift implementation of the William’s review recommendations, and timely completion of the GMC review led by Leslie Hamilton, will be key in rebuilding confidence.”

The recommendations arising from the Sir Norman Williams into gross negligence manslaughter in healthcare were reported in June.

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk