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Dr Bawa-Garba granted permission to appeal GMC decision

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, the junior doctor who was struck off the medical register after a controversial High Court case, has been allowed to appeal the decision.

The application, dated 28 March, was approved by Rt Hon Lord Justice Simon, who said Dr Bawa-Garba’s application met the second appeal test ‘in all respects’. 

The second appeal test requires the case to ‘have a real prospect of success’ and ‘raise an important point of principle or practice’ or requires ‘some other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear it’.

In the application, Justice Simon said: ‘Having rejected the respondent’s argument that a gross negligent manslaughter conviction should lead to erasure in the absence of (truly) exceptional circumstances, it is properly arguable that the Divisional Court applied an equivalent test in allowing the respondent’s appeal.’

GMC chief executive told Pulse earlier this week that he had ‘no choice’ but to pursue Dr Bawa-Garba in the High Court, after taking legal advice, which suggested the Medical Practitioners Tribunal service ‘erred in law in the way in which they reached their conclusions’ to suspend the junior doctor.

Pulse previously reported that Dr Bawa-Garba has instructed barristers James Laddie QC and Sarah Hannett to lead the appeal against the High Court decision.

Her case was initially led by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) but Dr Bawa-Garba said in an earlier statement that she would use the funds raised by supporters ‘to change to a top independent legal team, to potentially challenge the GMC and to have an independent review of the original conviction’.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at the MPS, said: ‘MPS was taking steps to submit an appeal as soon as the High Court judgment was handed down, so we are very pleased the appeal submitted by Dr Bawa-Garba’s new legal team has been granted.’

He added that it is ‘encouraging’ that Lord Justice Simon rejected the argument that a gross negligence manslaughter conviction should automatically see a doctor erased from the register.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We have now received confirmation that Dr Bawa-Garba has been granted permission to appeal the judgment of the Divisional Court on 25 January 2018. A hearing date will be set in due course.’

According to the application document the hearing will take one day and occur ‘before the end of July 2018’.

The Bawa-Garba case

The case of Dr Bawa-Garba, whose ‘catalogue of errors’ a court said contributed to the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock from sepsis, has prompted concern from the health secretary,the medical royal colleges and the BMA. The concern has focused specifically on the use of Dr Bawa-Garba’s own reflections in her e-portfolio – although these particular documents were not used in the case.

It most recently prompted delegates at last week’s UK LMCs Conference to declare a vote of no confidence in the GMC. The conference also called on the BMA to advise GPs to ’disengage from written reflection in both appraisal and revalidation’ until new safeguards are put in place.

Following the case, the GMC is set to carry out a review into how gross negligence manslaughter is applied in medicine, which will also look at ‘diversity matters’. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also ordered a ‘rapid review’, led by former Royal College of Surgeons president Professor Sir Norman Williams, due to report back to the House of Commons next month.