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13.08.18

Dr Bawa-Garba wins court appeal against dismissal decision

The formerly struck-off Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has won her Court of Appeal challenge and is free to practise medicine again.

Dr Bawa-Garba said she was “whole-heartedly sorry” for mistakes that led to the death of a six-year-old boy in 2011 as her CoA trial ended at the end of July. The junior doctor was struck off after being found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011, when Jack Adcock died of septic shock after being admitted with vomiting and sickness.

The paediatrics junior doctor received a two-year suspended criminal sentence in 2015, and was dismissed from the medical register in January this year after originally receiving a year-long suspension from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) following an appeal launched by the GMC.

The decision caused controversy in the medical profession: many campaigners complained that Dr Bawa-Garba was hampered by technical failures in the hospital during Adcock’s treatment such as a computer fault that meant the junior doctor could not retrieve blood test results.

Today, Dr Bawa-Garba was reinstated to the medical register, after the master of the rolls who announced the ruling, Sir Terence Etherton, said “no concerns have ever been raised about the clinical competence of Dr Bawa-Garba, other than in relation to Jack’s death,” noting that the paediatrics trainee was in the top third of her specialist cohort at the time of the incident.

He added: “The tribunal was satisfied that her deficient actions in relation to Jack were neither deliberate nor reckless, that she had remedied the deficiencies in her clinical skills and did not present a continuing risk to patients, and that the risk of her clinical practice suddenly and without explanation falling below the standards expected on any given day was no higher than for any other reasonably competent doctor.”

The ruling added that Dr Bawa-Garba is a “competent and useful doctor,” who presents no material continuing danger to the public.

Responding to the judgment, Royal College of Physicians London (RCP) president Professor Dame Jane Dacre said Jack Adcock’s death was a result of “an overstretched system” that saw a competent trainee covering the workload of several doctors.  

“As Dr Bawa-Garba’s counsel said, the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to impose a one year suspension was ‘humane and balanced’. It recognised that the actions of a doctor had contributed to the death of a patient, but also that the doctor in question was working under extreme pressure,” she added.

“As a profession, we must now work together to avoid further deaths. We will achieve this by making sure the NHS has the financial and human resources it needs. By working with the GMC to make sure its focus is on the development of a just culture. And, above all, by collectively reflecting and learning from this tragic incident.”

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Image credit: Nick Ansell, PA Images

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