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Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise ‘remains impaired’, tribunal rules

A tribunal has ruled that the fitness to practise of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba – the paediatic trainee involved in the death of a six-year-old boy – remains impaired due to her lack of face-to-face patient contact while she was suspended. 

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) agreed that ‘the risk of Dr Bawa-Garba putting another patient at an unwarranted risk of harm is low’ in a hearing today.

However, they added that Dr Bawa-Garba had an extended period of time during which she has been unable to practise, so her ‘fitness to practise should be found impaired because of her extended absence from medical practice’.

The tribunal will rule on further sanctions tomorrow, including whether she should be allowed to practise with supervision.

The ruling, released today, said: ‘It was clear to the Tribunal that Dr Bawa-Garba has now had an extended period of time during which she has been unable to practice and she has not had face-to-face contact with patients since January 2015. In those circumstances, the Tribunal determined that Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise should be found impaired because of her extended absence from medical practice.

‘The Tribunal therefore determined that Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of her conviction.’

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We would like to acknowledge how difficult this process has been for the Adcock family and our thoughts are with them.

‘The GMC and Dr Bawa-Garba’s representatives both submitted to the medical practitioners tribunal that her fitness to practise remains impaired due to the length of time she has been out of practice. It is important the doctor’s return to practice is safely managed.

‘The tribunal agreed, making a finding of impairment. The tribunal will determine its next steps tomorrow.’

Doctors’ Association UK chair Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: ‘The decision that Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise remains impaired was expected given the length of time Hadiza has been out of clinical practice.

‘However, this does not mean that Dr Bawa-Garba cannot return to the medical register and we are awaiting the full determination. Indeed, the tribunal today was satisfied that Dr Bawa-Garba has “fully remediated” and therefore we remain hopeful that Bawa-Garba will be restored to the medical register tomorrow.’

In December last year, it was announced that the MPTS had extended the suspension of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba by a further six months, in order to ‘protect the public’.

This ruling followed a Court of Appeal judgment against the GMC in August ordering Dr Bawa-Garba not to be struck off the medical register.

This came after the high-profile High Court case which saw the GMC succeed in an appeal against an MPTS suspension order, strengthening the doctor’s sanction to being struck off.

Dr Bawa-Garba’s appeal case

Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off the medical register after the High Court ruled in favour of the GMC in the case against its own fitness-to-practise tribunal in January this year.

James Laddie, the QC representing Dr Bawa-Garba, claimed at her appeal hearing in July that there were ‘systemic failings which contributed to the environment in which Dr Bawa-Garba came to make the mistakes which led us to this court’.

Dr Bawa-Garba had originally diagnosed Jack Adcock with gastroenteritis and failed to spot from blood tests that Jack had sepsis, or review chest X-rays that indicated he had a chest infection.

Following the initial High Court ruling, which caused an uproar from the medical profession, the Government has announced its intention to strip the GMC of the power to appeal MPTS decisions. However the GMC has said it will continue until legislation changes.