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GMC chair apologises to doctors for ‘fear and anguish’ caused by Bawa-Garba case

The chair of the GMC has said he is ‘extremely sorry’ for the distress caused to the medical profession after the regulator went to High Court to strike off a junior doctor.

Professor Terence Stephenson was speaking on The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live, after it ran a report based on Pulse’s front cover and played audio clips from GPs who spoke about their own experience of system pressures leading to mistakes.

Professor Stephenson also acknowledged that the case had damaged the regulator’s relationship with the profession.

Earlier this year, the GMC successfully struck off Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba in the High Court, overturning a decision from its own tribunal service, which found her fit to practise.

However, the medical profession reacted angrily to the decision, pointing out that there were a series of systematic failures that led to the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock in 2011.

This anger culminated in a vote of no confidence at the LMCs Conference last Friday, with a march planned on the GMC offices later this month.

The 20-minute segment opening the BBC report focused on the Pulse front cover, which featured more than 140 GPs’ faces in a mosaic of Dr Bawa-Garba’s face, and played audio clips from Pulse.

It featured an interview with Pulse editor Nigel Praities, and GPC member Dr David Wrigley, whose face featured in the mosaic.

Stand-in host Anna Foster later put the level of anger felt by the profession to Professor Stephenson.

He said: ‘I’m a practising doctor on the front line, I work every day, I work with trainees, and I completely acknowledge the pressure they are under and I completely acknowledge the sense of distress in the profession that this case has caused.

‘I am extremely sorry for the effects on the profession and the kind of fear and anguish it has provoked – I completely understand that.’

He added that the GMC wanted to support doctors to ensure they don’t find themselves in the same situation as Dr Bawa-Garba.

When asked whether the GMC regretted the decision, Professor Stephenson said: ‘We take these decisions with a very heavy heart. There is no pleasure for me – I’ve been training doctors for 35 years – in seeing a young, idealistic doctor have their career ruined.’

Mr Praities had earlier said that he had never seen the profession so angry. He said: ‘It’s immense, it’s definitely taken us by surprise in terms of the concern and anger among doctors regarding this particular case.

‘It’s touched on something very deep in the medical profession, I think.’

Readers' comments (53)

  • Vinci Ho

    So his speech was encrypted:

    We see things other people never see in a lifetime: that includes the way being treated by our regulator(s).

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  • Any significant event audit/portfolio can be used as evidence so how can GPs reflect and learn?

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  • Macaque

    Simples! GMC listened to the Daily Fail and did the wrong thing.

    GMC slogan "Working with doctors, working for patients" should be "Screwing good doctors, ignoring institutional failures, working with Daily Fail readers"

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  • pls accept mistake.Reinstate doctor.Pls learn lessons for future.

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  • To all my colleagues who have written on this thread. You all have essentially signed death warrants for yourselves. The GMC and Terence will now look at all these comments, use their friends in higher places to track you down, and open cases against you all and strike you off.
    Then GMC will come out with a statement, saying we are responsible for making medical profession better and safer, why, coz we eliminated all who raised concern, and could’ve been human enough to possibly make a mistake, based on the emotional responses on this thread.
    Welcome to GMC- General Mechanical Doctors Corporation, oh and by the way, the remaining doctors will have their annual subscription increased, in case we need more legal money to sack them as well.

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  • I suppose we must be glad for even a smidgeon of insight into the huge damage caused by the GMC.

    The GMC is an executive branch of the Department of Health in all but name, populated by placemen, crawlers and has-beens.

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  • It's not just us he should be apologising, this has upset doctors around the world. The GMC's actions have consequences beyond these shores. He should resign.

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  • On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble;
    His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
    The gale, it plies the saplings double,
    And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

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  • truly outrageous.Resign now please.GMC does not represent me nor my colleagues . If they want to protect patients I propose they pay for the fees themselves.

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  • The curious incident of the Consultant at 1630 [SH}

    Dr BG was convicted because the court accepted the opinion of Dr Nadel who stated regarding the blood results
    " ANY COMPETENT junior doctor would have realised the condition [Sepsis ]"
    Therefore, Dr BG was guilty of manslaughter because she thought it was dehydration.
    HOWEVER, Dr Riordan, the Consultant DID NOT realise the condition when shown the blood tests at 1630.
    Logically, Therefore, Dr Nadels statement is factually incorrect in that the blood tests was not realised by a Consultant.
    The Conviction is intrinsically flawed and wrong within itself.
    Prof Stephenson is a Paediatrician.
    He should be writing to the Lord Chief Justice to point out that the blood tests are equally applicable to ACEI AKI due to dehydration caused by V+D. I have seen similar results in adults.
    I feel the basic tenet of the Conviction that the blood tests are typical of Sepsis is incorrect and the PROOF is found in the Judgement the Consultant did not realise it.
    The explanation [ dear God ] was that DR BG did not HIGHLIGHT it.
    This is madness. How can you highlight something you think is something else ?
    It is upto the Consultant to recognise it. Since he did not, the Conviction is unsafe within its own logic.

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