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Independents' Day

BMA permitted to advise court in Bawa-Garba appeal

The BMA and the Professional Standards Authority have been permitted to advise the Court of Appeal in the Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case.

Dr Bawa-Garba was granted permission in March to appeal a controversial High Court ruling, which saw her struck off the medical register in January.

Following the announcement of an appeal case, the BMA applied to ‘intervene’ so that they could provide written submissions to the court, which provide insight into professional issues associated with the case.

A BMA spokesperson said their advice would focus on ‘the extent to which fitness to practice tribunals are entitled to consider evidence which has already been considered by a jury, including evidence of systemic pressures and remediation’.

They would also look at ‘how the question of maintaining public confidence in the medical profession should be considered and decided in fitness-to-practise cases which involve a criminal conviction’.

Dr Bawa-Garba was granted leave to appeal the High Court ruling at the end of March after the Rt Hon Lord Justice Simon said the case met the second appeal test, which requires the it ‘to have a real prospect of success’ or requires ‘some other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear it.’

The BMA spokesperson added: ‘The BMA will be making submissions on behalf of its members and the interests of the wider profession to help the court decide the important legal issues in this tragic and important case, following the far-reaching impact it has had on doctors.’

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has also been given permission to provide submissions to the court. 

It comes after the GMC was criticised by the PSA – its own regulator – which said the GMC’s bid to strike off the junior doctor was ‘without merit’.

PSA has declined to comment.

Readers' comments (8)

  • We had a weekly GP trainee teaching session hosted by a representative of the GMC. The representative was defending the GMCs decision to the bitter end. This is despite clear objection to the decision by the BMA and PSA. It begs and answer to the question...does the GMC have insight?

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  • Thanks for the insight Prashant. So much for reflection. The GMC want us to reflect when they certainly are not. Just more ammo for them to shoot us with reflection. Everyone I spoke to have lost confidence in this organisation.

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  • No confidence in the GMC right there,BMA NOT FAR BEHIND as they have stood by as the profession has been assaulted from all angles.

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  • Agree. No confidence in the GMC, BMA and most of the college (esp. RCGP). None seem to have insight, is capable of reflection or have regard for the interests of their members.

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  • The GMC (Terence Stephenson)maintain they appealed the determination of its own Tribunal Service in order "to maintain public confidence in the profession".
    What is the evidence that is the case? Where are the Lickert analyses of pubic opinion?
    Or did the GMC simply act on Stephenson's whim?

    The High Court had to side with the GMC once it appealed - that's the due process of the law.
    But a jury's decision as to the guilt of a doctor charged with a criminal offence, and the MPTS's view of the doctor's fitness to practice after suspension and remediation are two different issues - they should not be conflated.
    Dr Stephenson allegedly acted contrary to medical ethics in respect of bullying this doctor and is in denial. The Lancet has called for his resignation.

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  • Please see Dr Stephensons' reply to The Lancet below:

    "I read the Lancet Editorial about the General Medical Council's (GMC's) handling of the Jack Adcock case with interest (April 14, p 1456).1 Having met with hundreds of doctors over the past few months, it is clear that the Jack Adcock case has been a lightning rod for a range of issues facing the profession. The GMC's part in that case, after coroner and criminal court proceedings, was not taken lightly. As an independent regulator we are frequently called upon to make decisions that are not popular with doctors, and sometimes patients.

    But this case only confirms the importance of continuing on the path we have already set ourselves.

    Our strategy aims to provide even more support locally for doctors, employers, and educators to create working and training environments where professionalism can flourish—a focused drive to reduce harm to doctors and patients and ensure that we learn the lessons from mistakes. Our clear goal is to move away from spending the majority of time and resources on investigating the fitness to practise of doctors and instead focus the bulk of our efforts and resources on supporting doctors in their day–to–day professional practice to try and avert the risk of harm before it happens.

    The way we work should be subject to scrutiny and improvement. Later this year we will publish updated guidance on reflective practice, and explore team–based reflection. We have commissioned in depth research into the over-representation of black, minority, and ethnic doctors in fitness to practise procedures. And we have committed to examining how human factors training can be built into our procedures.

    The results of that work will directly shape a more proactive and evidence–based approach to regulation. But the GMC is just one player in the issues that doctors are concerned about; the law as it stands, how we resource the National Health Service, and how the system supports those holding it together are all at the heart of these challenges.

    The Lancet's readers understandably want evidence, not warm words. We are more focused than ever on our role in keeping patients safe by keeping doctors safe, and I ask the profession to judge us on our future actions.

    I am the Chair of the GMC and a practising National Health Service clinician. My university is reimbursed for my time spent as Chair of the GMC, but I do not receive any money personally."

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  • Dr Stephenson you dont keep Drs safe,If the BG had refused to work in the unsafe environment she was in you would have disciplined heres it was she did the best she could and you ended her mitigation, no protection.She was exposed to the only to typical working conditions we are all put under in this under funded mess of a health care system.The GMCs actions show you are not supporting or protecting anyone apart from the GMC.You need to understand the anger most of us are feeling towards your organisation.You need to understand also that this actions make us mistrust the whole medical establishment.Dr BGs appeal will come and time will tell.I hope those in the GMC that have acted will reflect on the damage they have done and act with honour.

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  • Dr Bawa Garba is still not back at work.
    Hang your head in shame GMC Govt lickspittles.
    You cannot ever represent us, because you are not us.

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