Dr Bawa-Garba wins appeal against erasure from medical register

15 August 2018 | Avant media

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 suspension.

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 November 2016.

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.

More information

Read our article: The case of Dr Bawa-Garba: How can we safeguard reflection

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