As a GP and mother to a daughter who wants to study to become a doctor, I have been horrified by the case of Dr Bawa-Garba and this has motivated me to help organize a protest march in London on Thursday 22nd March in her support.
For those of you not aware, Dr Bawa-Garba is a junior doctor who attended Jack Adcock, aged 6, who unfortunately died in 2011 at Leicester Hospital. At a casual glance, it appears that Dr Bawa-Garba missed diagnosing Jack’s chest infection and sepsis, did not commence antibiotics immediately, and mistook him for another child. All these facts were presented in a court case where Dr Bawa-Garba was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and given a suspended sentence.
Dr Bawa-Garba had only recently returned from maternity leave. At the time of Jack Adcock’s cardiac arrest, Dr Bawa-Garba had been working non-stop for 13 hours without a break. Clearly a number of mistakes were made and lessons needed to be learnt both by the doctor and the hospital management.
The General Medical Council (GMC), our regulator, was fully aware of all the above factors. However, they chose to appeal against their own advisory committee and took away Dr Bawa-Garba’s license to practise medicine permanently even though she had a hitherto unblemished record. Many doctors feel this is incredibly harsh and unfair.
This decision strikes terror into doctors’ hearts and makes them afraid of admitting to mistakes
Of course as a mother, I appreciate how heartbreaking this case has been for Jack’s parents and cannot imagine the pain they have suffered. I am not making excuses for what happened on that day, but what is there to be gained by terminating her career forever. This decision strikes terror into doctors’ hearts and makes them afraid of admitting to mistakes, makes them scared of working in the chronically understaffed wards of the NHS. Many doctors think that this could easily happen to them.
When my daughter calls me from a ward once she is a junior doctor, tired and upset saying that that is feeling overwhelmed at having to do her job as well as others due to shortages of doctors on that day, I’m not sure how I will sleep that night, worrying about her and wondering whether she is about to make a mistake which might send her to prison. I am proud to say my daughter will be coming with me to London on the 22nd of March.
Dr Catherine Beanland is a GP Partner in Shropshire. You can email her about the protest on email@example.com and follow the campaign on Twitter @MarchforHadiza. The march to the GMC is on Thursday 22 March at 10am, starting from the Courts of Justice, London. Further details on the campaign website and Facebook page
N.B. This article was changed at 10:13 on the 8 March 2013 to remove some incorrect details of the case involving Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba