Avant welcomes Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba’s
successful appeal against being struck off the medical register as a move to
support protective, not punitive, penalties in the medical profession.
Yesterday, Dr Bawa Garba won the
right to continue to practise after the
Court of Appeal in England reinstated the medical practitioners’ tribunal’s one-year
On 4 November 2015, the English Crown Court found UK paediatric
registrar, Dr Bawa-Garba guilty of manslaughter
on the grounds of gross negligence after Jack Adcock, a six-year-old boy
died of heart failure due to sepsis while in her care in 2011. Dr Bawa-Garba received
a 24-month suspended sentence. The
Court of Appeal refused her leave to appeal against her conviction on 29
The medical practitioners’ tribunal initially decided to suspend Dr
Bawa-Garba’s registration for one-year. However, the General Medical
Council successfully appealed the decision on the basis that she should have been
banned from medical practice. Subsequently, in January the High Court struck Dr
Bawa-Garba off the register for life.
The Court of Appeal highlighted the
central issue on appeal as the proper approach to the conviction of a doctor for
gross negligence manslaughter in the context of fitness to practise sanctions
under the Medical Act 1983 where the
doctor does not present a continuing risk to patients.
In handing down its decision, the Court of Appeal
concluded that no concerns have ever been raised about
the clinical competency of Dr Bawa-Garba, other than in relation to Jack’s
death. They also noted the tribunal was satisfied she had remedied the
deficiencies in her clinical skills, and accepted the evidence of two
consultants that she is an excellent doctor.
“The tribunal was satisfied that the
risk of her putting a patient at unwarranted risk of harm in the future was low
in the sense, as stated in the Impairment Decision, that the risk of her
clinical practice suddenly and without explanation falling below the
standards expected on any given day is no higher than for any other
reasonably competent doctor,” the court said.
The Tribunal accepted evidence that Dr
Bawa-Garba was honest and reliable and had reflected deeply and demonstrated
significant and substantial insight. It found that her deficient conduct in
relation to the care and treatment of Jack was neither deliberate nor reckless
and that she did not present a continuing risk to patients.
Ultimately, the Court of Appeal
described the tribunal as “an expert body” entitled to reach all those conclusions.
“The tribunal was entitled to take into
account… that an important factor weighing in favour of Dr Bawa-Garba is that
she is a competent and useful doctor, who presents no material danger to the
public, and can provide considerable useful future service to society,” the
Court of Appeal said.
Read our article: The case of Dr Bawa-Garba: How can
we safeguard reflection