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Dr Bawa-Garba ‘whole-heartedly sorry’ for mistakes, as appeal hearing ends

The appeal hearing which could see Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba reinstated to the medical register has come to a close today, with judges still considering their ruling.

Speaking outside court, Dr Bawa-Garba admitted her mistakes would ‘live with her for the rest of her life’, and she said she was ‘whole-heartedly sorry’ for what had happened.

Dr Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor specialising in paediatrics, was struck off earlier this year following a successful appeal by the GMC against a decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal to suspend her for 12 months.

The appeal case has been heard in front of three Court of Appeal judges since yesterday morning, including a presentation from the BMA in support of the beleaguered doctor.

Dr Bawa-Garba was on duty at Leicester Royal Infirmary 2011 when six-year-old Jack Adcock, who had Down’s Syndrome and a known heart condition, went into cardiac arrest due to sepsis.

Dr Bawa-Garba made the ‘remarkable error’ of mistakenly placing Jack under a ‘do not resuscitate’ order after confusing him with a two-year-old who had been discharged. 

The doctor was later convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and received a suspended two-year jail sentence in November 2015.

She had originally diagnosed the boy which gastro-enteritis, a stomach bug.

The doctor failed to spot from blood tests that Jack was in shock or reviewed chest x-rays that indicated he had the chest infection.

In pursuing the striking off of Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register, the GMC has argued that this was necessary to uphold public confidence in the medical profession following the manslaughter conviction.

Yesterday, Dr Bawa-Garba’s lawyer James Laddie, QC, argued Dr Bawa-Garba should be back in a hospital treating sick children.

Making his closing argument today, he told the packed courtroom: ‘Our position is that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service is in better position in general than a court to decide what is in the public confidence.

‘In so far as the decision requires any evaluation of the grounds of Dr Bawa-Garba’s conduct the MPT remains in a better position that the court. 

‘This case was decided by three individuals agreeing for the reasons set out in the DCR this was not a decision where the only reasonable outcome was erasure.

‘My client is capable of making an excellent contribution to the medical profession for years to come.’

The Court of Appeal heard Bawa-Garba was an above average doctor with a first-class degree from the University of Southampton.

Mr Laddie added: ‘It is perfectly apparent that there was no breach of the sanction guidelines because it is not a legally binding document.’

Yesterday he had told the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice Rafferty the case had turned out to be ‘something of a lightning rod for the dissatisfaction of doctors and medical staff in this country’.

Thanking the parties today the Lord Chief Justice said: ‘We will take time to consider our decision and judgements. We will circulate judgements in the usual way.

‘It may not be possible to do so in the next few days.’

Speaking after today’s hearing, Jack’s mother Nicola Adcock said it made her ‘blood boil’ when she heard Mr Laddie argue Dr Bawa-Garba should be treating sick children. 

She criticised medical professionals for supporting Bawa-Garba at her latest appeal and said: ‘All these doctors came here having a say when none of them sat in the four and a half week court case.

She added: ‘If that doctor is reinstated, I promise you, I will cause a public uproar.’

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