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E-portfolio was not used against Dr Bawa-Garba in court, claims defence body

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba’s e-portfolio reflections were not used against her in court, despite ‘wide misreporting’ that they were, her medical defence organisation has claimed.

In a statement, MPS – the defence body which represented Dr Bawa-Garba – said that there was misplaced ‘anxiety’ around the use of the e-portfolio in the manslaughter trial which convicted her, and said that ’a doctor’s portfolio is an important part of their professional development’.

But Pulse has learnt that some reflections from Dr Bawa-Garba – but not from her e-portfolio – were included in evidence presented to the trial, however it is unclear quite how much of an influence this played in the final manslaughter verdict.

Last week, the GMC was successful in their application to the High Court to have the conclusions of their own tribunal overturned and Dr Bawa-Garba to be struck off the medical register.

The case has caused much concern, with the health secretary, the medical royal colleges and the BMA all saying that it could have unforseen consequences in terms of doctors’ willingness to be open about mistakes and some GP leaders saying that an immediate review of appraisal guidance was needed.

But Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, senior medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, said: ‘The judgement from the high court to erase Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register is disappointing and its implications will understandably be of concern to the healthcare community.

‘One particular area of anxiety was the purported use of Dr Bawa-Garba’s e-portfolio at the criminal trial. This has been widely misreported, as the e-portfolio did not form part of the evidence before the court and jury.’

‘Indeed, the court was clear that reflections were irrelevant to the facts to be determined and that no weight should be given to remarks documented after the event.’

’Our advice on the use of e-portfolios is, and remains, that a doctor’s portfolio is an important part of their professional development. They should bear in mind that not disclosing an incident or reflection during appraisal may lead to a greater risk of allegations of probity and referral to the GMC.’

Pulse understands that Dr Bawa-Garba actually requested that her e-portfolio reflections were included in the defence’s bundle of evidence, although this did not happen.

But Dr Bawa-Garba’s verbal reflections were ’widely available’ in court, in the form of evidence given by Dr Stephen O’Riordan, the consultant on-call on the day Jack Adcock died.

An MPS spokesperson said: ‘Dr Bawa-Garba did indeed meet duty consultant Dr O’Riordan after Jack’s death to discuss the incident and learnings – this is standard practice. Dr O’Riordan’s own notes following this discussion formed part of his witness evidence.’ 

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