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Bawa-Garba: timeline of a case that has rocked medicine

What happened and when

18 February 2011

A six year old boy is admitted to the Children’s Assessment Unit (CAU) at Leicester Royal Infirmary following a referral from his GP. Jack Adcock, who had Down's Syndrome and a known heart condition, had been suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and had difficulty breathing.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was a specialist registrar in year six of her postgraduate training (ST6) with an 'impeccable' record. She had recently returned from maternity leave and this was her first shift in an acute setting. She was the most senior doctor covering the CAU, the emergency department and the ward CAU that day. She saw Jack at about 10.30am.

Jack was receiving supplementary oxygen and Dr Bawa-Garba prescribed a fluid bolus and arranged for blood tests and a chest x-ray. At 10.44am the first blood gas test was available and showed a worryingly high lactate reading. The x-ray became available from around 12.30pm and showed evidence of a chest infection.

Dr Bawa-Garba was heavily involved in treating other children between 12-3pm, including a baby that needed a lumbar puncture. At 3pm Dr Bawa-Garba reviewed Jack's X-ray (she was not informed before then that it was available) and prescribed a dose of antibiotics immediately, which Jack received an hour later from the nurses.

A failure in the hospital's electronic computer system that day meant that although she had ordered blood tests at about 10.45am, Dr Bawa-Garba did not receive them until about 4.15pm. It also meant her senior house office was unavailable.

During a handover meeting with a consultant which took place about 4.30pm, Dr Bawa-Garba raised the high level of CRP in Jack's blood test results and a diagnosis of pneumonia, but she did not ask the consultant to review the patient. She said Jack had been much improved and was bouncing about. At 6.30 pm, she spoke to the consultant a second time, but again did not raise any concerns.

When she wrote up the initial notes, she did not specify that Jack’s enalapril (for his heart condition) should be discontinued. Jack was subsequently given his evening dose of enalapril by his mother after he was transferred to the ward around 7pm.

At 8pm a ‘crash call’ went out and Dr Bawa-Garba was one of the doctors who responded to it. On entering the room she mistakenly confused Jack with another patient and called off the resuscitation. Her mistake was identified within 30 seconds to two minutes and resuscitation continued.

This hiatus did not contribute to Jack’s death, as his condition was already too far advanced. At 9.20pm, Jack died.

2 November 2015

Portuguese agency nurse, 47-year-old Isabel Amaro, of Manchester is given a two-year suspended jail sentence for manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence.

4 November 2015

At Nottingham Crown Court Dr Bawa-Garba is convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence.

14 December 2015

Dr Bawa-Garba is given a 24 month suspended sentence.

8 December 2016

Dr Bawa-Garba's appeal against her sentence is quashed at the Court of Appeal.

13 June 2017

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal service says Dr Bawa-Garba should be suspended for 12 months and rejects an application from the GMC to strike her off the register. It says: ‘In the circumstances of this case, balancing the mitigating and aggravating factors, the tribunal concluded that erasure would be disproportionate.’

8 December 2017

GMC takes the MPTS to the High Court and argues its own tribunal was 'wrong' to allow Dr Bawa-Garba to continue to practise.

25 January 2018

The GMC successfully appeals at the High Court bid to have the MPTS decision overruled, leading to Dr Bawa-Garba being struck off the medical register. Lord Justice Ouseley says: 'The Tribunal did not respect the verdict of the jury as it should have. In fact, it reached its own and less severe view of the degree of Dr Bawa-Garba’s personal culpability.’ Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says that he is 'deeply concerned' about its implications.

26 January 2018

Prominent GPs tell Pulse that the ruling raises serious questions about how doctor's reflections are used and recorded, and that new guidance is now needed urgently.

30 January 2018

An influential international doctors group accuses the GMC of treating black and minority ethnic doctors ‘differently and harshly’, following the High Court case.

In light of the Dr Bawa-Garba case, the GMC announces a review of how gross negligence manslaughter is applied to medical practice, which was initially led by Dame Clare Marx and later taken over by Leslie Hamilton after Dame Clare was appointed the next GMC chair. Meanwhile, an influential international doctors group accuses the GMC of treating black and minority ethnic doctors ‘differently and harshly’, following the High Court case.

31 January 2018

Dr Bawa-Garba’s defence body releases a statement saying e-portfolio reflections were not used against her in court, despite ‘wide misreporting’ that they were. But Pulse uncovers that her reflections were used in court, from a document submitted as evidence by the on-call consultant on the day.

6 February 2018

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt announces a review into the application of gross negligence manslaughter charges in medicine in light of the Dr Bawa-Garba case.

7 February 2018

Following a crowd funding campaign, which raised over £335,000, Dr Bawa-Garba decides to appeal the ruling, and considers appealing the manslaughter conviction from 2015.

12 February 2018

The GMC refutes claims that there was discrimination in its decision to launch a High Court bid. In response to an open letter from the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), the GMC said the accusations were ‘troubling and without merit’.

19 February 2018

The GMC is criticised by their regulator, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), for striking off Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register. The PSA said the bid was ‘without merit’, according to an unpublished review of the case.

13 March 2018

GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson says he is ‘extremely sorry’for the distress caused to the medical profession by the Dr Bawa-Garba case.

19 March 2018

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust releases its serious incident report in to the death of Jack Adcock, which was completed six months after his death. The report says that there was no ‘single root cause’ behind the six-year-old's death.

29 March 2018

Dr Bawa-Garba is granted permission to appeal the High Court’s decision to allow the GMC to strike of the junior doctor. Meanwhile, the BMA applies and is later permitted to advise the Court of Appeal in the case.

23 April 2018

The GMC announces the launch of its review into why black and minority ethnic doctors are more likely to face complaints from employers than their white colleagues, which is to be co-led by researcher Roger Kline and Dr Doyin Atewologun.

11 June 2018

Department of Health and Social Care’s ‘rapid review’ into medical gross negligence manslaughter concludes that the GMC should longer be able to appeal decisions made by its own tribunal regarding fitness-to-practise decisions.

27 June 2018

The BMA supports a vote of no confidence in the GMC in light of the Bawa-Garba case at its Annual Representative Meeting.

3 July 2018

Despite the conclusions of the DHSC's 'rapid review' in gross negligence manslaughter, the GMC tells Pulse it is not intending to halt appeals against its own fitness-to-practise tribunal until the law is changed.

25-26 July 2018

Dr Bawa-Garba’s appeal of the High Court decision that saw her struck off the medical register is heard in the High Court over one and a half days. Dr Bawa-Garba said after the hearing that she is ‘whole-heartedly sorry’ for her mistakes, while Jack’s mother Nicola Adcock says she ‘will cause a public uproar’ if Dr Bawa-Garba is reinstated.

13 August 2018

The Court of Appeal judges rule in favour of Dr Bawa-Garba, restoring the MPTS decision that she should be suspended from the medical register rather than erased. The judges said the matter has been passed to the MPTS 'for review of Dr Bawa-Garba's suspension'. 

20 December 2018

The Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) decides to extend the suspension of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba by a further six months, saying the measure is 'appropriate' to 'protect the public'.

13 March 2019

The MPTS announces a two-day review hearing for Dr Bawa-Garba set for 8 and 9 April 2019. The hearing will decide whether her fitness to practise remains impaired and whether she is deemed fit to return to work. 

8 April 2019

The MPTS rules that Dr Bawa-Garba' the fitness to practise remains impaired, due to her lack of face-to-face patient contact while she was under suspension, agreeing that the risk of her putting another patient at an unwarranted risk of harm is low.

9 April 2019

The MPTS decides that Dr Bawa-Garba will be able to return to practice from July 2019 - under certain conditions - but she does not intend to return to work until February 2020, when her maternity leave finishes. The MPTS argues that the public interest has been served already by her cumulative suspension and that any higher sanction would be 'disproportionate and punitive'.

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Readers' comments (57)

  • Vinci Ho

    Fundamentally, it is flawed for medical regulatory bodies , both CQC and GMC, being funded by those being regulated . Reading about the reaction of the child’s family , one can easily work the way backwards to understand that GMC was over-stretching its effort to (a) defend its super-protector complex (b) avoid a reputation of harbouring its subscribers in the eyes of the public.

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  • Wonder why she did not appeal the initial verdict.. Did the medical defence organisation use their discretionary powers to refuse support for an appeal ??

    Please read the case of Michalak versus GMC.. May swing the pendulum back towards individual doctors who can challenge unfair decisions by the GMC using the employment tribunal process..

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  • Is the comment stating that the family gave the enalapril not medical staff true ? I haven't read that anywhere else. Alternative timelines that I've read attribute the catastrophic deterioration in the poor child's condition (after initially improving on i.v. Fluids, oxygen and then antibiotics ) to the administration of this drug. . I have wondered how it was administered if it had not actually been prescribed by the admitting doctor. . However if it is not true perhaps it should be removed ?

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  • I'm a GPST1 on GP rotation, the F" I work with is thinking of leaving medicine entirely. Now I can see why.

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  • Practice defensively always and forever.
    Look after number ONE because no one will look after you.

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  • This comment has been moderated

  • @10:52: It comes from the court documents. A lot of verification from many sources on Twitter who've read various accounts. The paediatric consultants version on 54000 doctors doesn't attribute the administration to anyone in a rather loaded way (as they understandably don't want to be seen to victim blame). The criticism of Bawa-Garba is that she didn't tell the family not to do so, not that she prescribed it or forgot to omit it. Emphasises the unrealistic expectation for her to be in all places dealing with all things at once - hospital docs don't often have to consider what might get given by family/friends as to most, the kardex is gospel. Likewise, no way nursing staff would risk giving unprescribed meds.

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  • Edoardo Cervoni

    I do agree with Vinci Ho considerations. I am also most surprised that a doctor, that is any doctor, without significant health problems (acute, subacute, or chronic), may arrive to commit errors of a gravity to be sanctioned with erasure. I would have thought that, between medical school and supervised post-graduate medical training, there should be plenty of occasions to pick-up and correct "inadequacies". And doing so, would be in best interest of everyone. I cannot really comment on the case of Dr Bawa-Garba. Many have. But, surely, saying that someone could "never be a doctor again", must mean something more about psychological or mental health frame set - and deeming this as impossible to change - that with training.
    Unfortunately, many of the considerations being made by the colleagues in response of this piece of news are also correct, in my humble opinion. However, I still believe that reflecting on errors is a good thing if we do so with the determination of getting better.

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  • @12.12
    Thank you for clarifying that.
    I understand the sensitivity towards the bereaved family.
    However it is not standard practice to have to expressly tell family members not to give previously prescribed medication to inpatients ( or at least not in my day as a junior , when the medication chart was sancrosanct and I would be phoned by staff to say it was ok to give paracetamol as pain relief ) .

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    @'Testing | Locum GP26 Jan 2018 10:29pm

    Wonder why she did not appeal the initial verdict.. Did the medical defence organisation use their discretionary powers to refuse support for an appeal ??

    The original decision did not give her the right to appeal.

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  • Yep, I agree completely, sorry if wasn’t clear. (FYI it’s point 15 on this court document: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2016/1841.html )

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