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Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba: ‘I hope this case will improve patient safety’

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has spoken out after being reinstated to the medical register by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Speaking to the BBC, she said she hoped the case would improve working conditions for junior doctors, lead to better recognition of sepsis and improve patient safety.

Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off earlier this year when the High Court ruled in favour of the GMC, overturning the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service’s decision to suspend rather than erase Dr Bawa-Garba in light of a 2015 manslaughter conviction in the criminal courts.

The MPTS had concluded that Dr Bawa-Garba on the night of the tragic death of six-year-old Jack Adcock in 2011 had been working under significant systemic pressures, which contributed to the death alongside her clinical errors. And yesterday, the appeal court ruled that suspension was more appropriate than erasure, given the circumstances.

In an episode of Panorama, aired on the BBC on Monday evening, Dr Bawa-Garba said: ‘I went for what was more common in that age group which is gastroenteritis and I felt that it was a very bad case of it. I didn’t recognise sepsis, I didn’t think sepsis then, I wish I did.’

She told the program: ‘I am sorry for not recognising sepsis and I am sorry for my role in what happened to Jack and I will say that again today.’

She added: ‘It was devastating, I have never had any experience like that, have never lost a patient.’

However, she said that her mistakes did not make her a criminal.

She said about her criminal court case: ‘I remember sitting there listening to their account of my actions and I felt like a criminal. I’m not a criminal. I made some wrong clinical judgments that I wish that I hadn’t.’

Dr Bawa-Garba added that she does not believe doctors to be ‘above the law’.

‘I believe that if a doctor was reckless or a doctor for example came to work drunk, you should be investigated, but that should be different from coming to work under difficult circumstances and making a clinical error,’ she said.

Also speaking on the program, Dr Bawa-Garba’s former supervisor and a consultant neonatologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary Dr Jonathan Cusack said Dr Bawa-Garba was working ‘in a perfect storm’ on the evening in question.

Systemic pressures included an IT system failure that meant blood test results were delayed and its alert system unavailable. Dr Bawa-Garba was also not supposed to be the most senior doctor on shift – the consultant was unavailable due to a double-booking, and two out of three nurses were agency staff.

Regarding the IT failure, Dr Bawa-Garba said: ‘Anything that is abnormal will be green and flashing so that it catches the observer’s attention.’

Following yesterday’ ruling, Dr Bawa-Garba is being restored to the GMC register and the MPTS will decide if further action needs to be taken.

Dr Bawa-Garba said: 'The lessons that I’ve learnt will live with me forever. I welcome the verdict because for me that’s an opportunity to do something that I’ve dedicated my life to doing which is medicine. But I wanted to pay tribute and remember Jack Adcock, a wonderful little boy that started this story.

'My hope is that lessons learnt from this case will translate into better working conditions for junior doctors, better recognition of sepsis, factors in place that will improve patient safety.'

The GMC has said it accepts the verdict, which was welcomed by relieved members of the medical community.

Readers' comments (10)

  • I really respect Dr Bawa Garba and hope if my children were ill they get a doctor like her

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  • I wish Dr Garba all the best

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  • Missed out the systemic pressure of being a non-white female in a head dress

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  • Northwestdoc10.50am.

    Absolutely.

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  • Best wishes dr GB. you conducted yourself very well. MPTS should take in to account period of not working as suspension so you can start work tomorrow.

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  • Well done Dr Bawa-Garba. You have conducted yourself with dignity and bravery.
    You are considering whether or not to Challenge the original court ruling on manslaughter. You have been through a lot and must be pretty tired, but if you do challenge it you will have pretty much the whole profession behind you.
    Wouldn't have happened in Scotland so clearly there are some very bad laws that need changing.

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  • AlanAlmond

    There needs to be some fundamental reform in the law and the conduct of the GMC. Unless this follows nothing much will change..why would it?

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  • If GMC make effort to make itself Doctor friendly along with role to protect patients , they will have no Role in future.
    Time for them to think of not inly patients but poor doctors as well

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  • Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, said: “Under their care, Jack’s condition needlessly declined to a point where, before he had been transferred to the next ward, he was effectively beyond the point of no return.

    “List for us, please, all of the mistakes,” Mr Thomas said.
    “When I reassessed Jack, I was falsely reassured because he was alert, drinking from a beaker, responding to voice, pushing his mask away because he didn't want it on his face,” she replied.
    As far as I can see Mr Thomas has condemned Dr BG for 'needless decline' and for being falsely reassured for 'improvement'.
    This is a strange case.
    The Court accepted the initial jury finding that Dr Bawa-Garba had been grossly negligent due to the obvious continuing deterioration in his condition which she failed properly to reassess and her failure to seek advice from a consultant at any stage.
    But he did not deteriorate or decline till after his transfer. He had improved so much, he was transferred to a general ward by another clinician.
    Poor Jack was unresponsive on admission. If he had declined as stated by Thomas QC, he would be completely moribund; in which case why was he transferred?
    Actually, he was bouncing, so the ' needless decline' or ' 'obvious deterioration'did not happen. Quite a bizarre case. The expert witness even said ' Gastroenteritis was a negligent diagnosis' In a child with vomiting and diarrhoea for 12 hours!! Should we all not be frightened to work in the UK where V+D for 12 hours is not gastroenteritis.

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  • A good outcome but will it stop the doctors leaving the UK? It will slow it down temporarily but the system still sucks so I doubt it.

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