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Tribunal 'wrong' to allow doctor to continue to practise, GMC tells High Court

A doctor who was let off with a 12-month suspension after her actions resulted in the death of a six-year-old boy should be struck off 'to protect the public', the High Court heard yesterday.

The Court of Appeal heard that the GMC wants the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) decision to be quashed and replaced with erasure because suspension 'is not sufficient to protect the public'.

But the barrister defending the trainee paediatrician, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, said she was a 'good and safe' doctor who had made errors due to 'systemic failures'.

Some 800 medics and other professionals have signed a letter supporting Bawa-Garba and more than 10,000 have signed a petition backing her, highlighting a large number of hospital trust failures.

Mr Justice Ouseley said before the appeal hearing began that that 'obviously this is tragic case all around and we fully understand that'.

Jack Adcock died as a result of a series of blunders from cardiac arrest brought on by sepsis after he was admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011.

Dr Bawa-Garba was later convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and received a suspended two-year jail sentence in November 2015 – a sentence which she failed to appeal earlier this year.

The MPTS decided in June that erasing the doctor from the GMC register would be ‘disproportionate’ and recommended a 12-month suspension instead.

But Ivan Hare, QC, representing the GMC, said the MPTS 'got it wrong'.

Mr Hare told the court: 'We say this is fundamentally a very straight-forward case.'

He added: 'The judge had correctly directed the jury [in the crown court] that the prosecution had shown that the defendant's treatment was exceptionally bad.'

Mr Hare also said that the judgment sentencing remarks had been ‘clear that the inevitable outcome in her conviction would be the end of her career’.

But Sean Larkin, QC, representing Dr Bawa-Garba, said: 'One has to ask why this good and safe doctor made these errors on this day, and we submit that the systemic failures are relevant.

'We submit that this did not go behind the jury's finding.'

Upon conclusion of yesterday's hearing, Mr Ouseley said the judgment would be reserved until a later date.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: 'The court has reserved judgment in this case and we await the outcome…

'This has been a tragic case and we acknowledge the strength of feeling expressed by many doctors.

'Our decision to appeal the doctor's suspension was not taken lightly.

'We would stress that cases such as this, where a doctor has been convicted of gross negligent manslaughter, are extremely rare.'

Readers' comments (23)

  • My son was aspiring to be a medics [secured A* x10 in gcse] but after reading this in news he decided rather to go for Economics.
    This is really appalling.I recently have reduced my threshold of admissions and investigations which unfortunately would lead to extra financial strain on dying NHS.sorry

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  • Here we know the doctor convicted of manslaughter, but not the 79 systemic problems. Why not, Pulse? What were these failures and why are they withheld in a public trial ?

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  • Maybe a dangerous precedent for GMC, that someone convicted can continue to practice?

    Details should be clear from the appeal, good luck to Dr Bawa-Garba, on the face of it just one of those times the holes in the Swiss cheese line up to let a misfortune through. We've all been there.

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