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Bawa-Garba decision is a relief – but there are no winners

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There is little celebrating following the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to allow Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba to continue practising – after all, no-one should lose sight of the fact that a little boy has tragically died.

But there is one overriding emotion from the profession – relief. What Dr Bawa-Garba has been through is the worst professional nightmare any doctor could face.

In my years at Pulse, I have never seen a reaction to a story comparable to this. It got to the heart of doctors’ fears: systematic pressures that make mistakes more likely; taking the blame for those mistakes; being criminalised for trying to do your job; being left to do a job that no one person can do on their own; having your pressured actions scrutinised without that context being taken into account. There are many more.

This case got to the heart of doctors’ fears

I’ve been talking about the case on the radio in the past couple of days. I’ve tried to explain that, when I or the radio presenter makes a mistake at work, then we might publish a headline with a typo, or pronounce someone’s name wrong. When you, reader, make a mistake it could lead to a death.

The verdict is not a cause for celebration. There are no winners: not the Adcocks, Dr Bawa-Garba and certainly not the GMC.

But what the verdict does is provide some acknowledgement that doctors do an impossible job, and that they should not see their career brought to an abrupt halt for a mistake that could happen to anyone.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at