On 13 August 2018 the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s decision to remove Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register following the successful outcome of her appeal.
Commenting on the judgement, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“We welcome today’s judgement of this important case reversing the erasure of Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register and restoring the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal. We recognise the hard work of all involved, including Dr Bawa-Garba’s legal team, in securing a positive outcome. The BMA was pleased to be able to intervene in this case on behalf of the entire medical profession.
“We hope that Dr Bawa-Garba will now rightly be given space to resume her career.
“Today’s successful appeal in no way detracts from the tragic circumstances of this case and the unexpected death of a young boy, and we once again send our deepest condolences to Jack Adcock’s family.
“The GMC’s successful high court appeal in January, which overturned the Medical Practitioners Tribunal’s (MPT’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 Tribunal’s Service (MPTS). 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.
“Today’s judgement vindicates the BMA’s position that the MPTS is the right body to determine a doctor’s future in these complex and difficult cases, in which wider systemic pressures affecting patient safety need to be considered. It demonstrates that our call, acted upon by the Government, to remove the GMC’s right of appeal of MPTS decisions, was the right one.
“It 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.”
Background to the appeal
In 2011 Jack Adcock tragically died of systemic sepsis following treatment at the Royal Leicester Infirmary from a team of healthcare professionals including Dr Bawa-Garba.
A trust investigation and an inquest (only part-heard) followed. On the basis of evidence submitted to the inquest, the CPS decided to charge Dr Bawa-Garba and two nurse colleagues with gross negligence manslaughter. In 2015 Dr Bawa-Garba and one of the nurses were convicted with Dr Bawa-Garba receiving a 2 year suspended sentence. Her appeal of that conviction was refused the following year.
In 2017, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service's found Dr Bawa-Garba's fitness to practise impaired and suspended her for a year. The GMC appealed this decision and in January this year, the high court upheld the appeal, erasing Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register.
On 28 March 2018, Dr Bawa-Garba was given permission to appeal the decision of the high court. The BMA applied to intervene in the appeal to assist the court and seek to achieve the best possible outcome for the profession.
BMA intervening in Bawa Garba appeal
The BMA intervened on behalf of its members and the interests of the wider profession in the appeal of Dr Hadiza Bawa Garba. Our intervention aimed to help the Court of Appeal decide the important legal issues in this tragic and important case, following the widespread concern about it among doctors.
We were particularly concerned that the High Court’s judgement could restrict the ability of a Medical Practitioners Tribunal to form its own view of the facts, and of any public confidence considerations, in cases involving a criminal conviction. The judgement in the appeal vindicates our view that the MPTS is the right body to determine a doctor’s future in these complex and difficult cases and the GMC should not have the right to appeal those decisions.
Read our legal statement
BMA highlights removal from Medical Register implications
Bawa-Garba granted permission to appeal
GMC ruling alarms doctors amid crisis
GMC hits low ebb
Bawa-Garba ruling - our response
Bawa-Garba case - meeting your concerns
Bawa-Garba case - continued support for our members
Ruling on High Court case for Dr Bawa-Garba
Removal from the GMC medical register - FAQs
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