Times caption: Hadiza Bawa-Garba will be allowed to practise under supervision (NICK ANSELL/PA)
Another woman escaping justice, even after the death of a six-year old boy towards whom she had a duty of care. A piece by Kat Lay, Health Correspondent, and Nigel Bunyan, in today’s Times:
A doctor convicted of manslaughter over the death of a six-year-old boy is to be allowed to practise medicine again, a tribunal has ruled.
Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, 43, was given a suspended jail sentence for gross negligence manslaughter after Jack Adcock died from sepsis in 2011.
Yesterday his mother said she was “absolutely disgusted” by the decision to allow Dr Bawa-Garba, who has not worked since her conviction in 2015, back on wards under supervision from the end of July. The doctor intends to return next February after a period of maternity leave.
Jack died from sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011. The court was told that the doctor was slow to follow up abnormal test results, failed to summon the help of a consultant and missed what experts described as a “barn-door obvious” case of sepsis.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled that a 12-month suspension was adequate punishment but that decision was challenged by doctors’ regulator the General Medical Council (GMC), and it won a declaration at the High Court that she should be struck off permanently. Dr Bawa-Garba won an appeal last August, reinstating the original tribunal decision.
The suspension is due to expire at the end of July, and yesterday a tribunal service panel in Manchester ruled that Dr Bawa-Garba should be allowed to practise again. They imposed conditions that will be in place for two years, including increased levels of supervision. The panel ruled that Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to work in paediatrics remained impaired because she had been out of practice since 2015. However, they assessed the risk of her putting any future patient at “unwarranted risk of harm” as “low”.
Dr Bawa-Garba has received widespread support from other doctors, who argued that she became a scapegoat for wider system failures and that her treatment would make it harder for doctors to own up to mistakes when things went wrong.
Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, chairwoman of the Doctors’ Association UK, which has supported Dr Bawa-Garba, said: “There are no winners in this desperately sad case. However, restoring Dr Bawa-Garba to the medical register is the right outcome and will go some way in addressing the current climate of fear and blame in the NHS which is so toxic to patient safety.” [J4MB: So not holding incompetent doctors properly to account isn’t toxic to patient safety?]
Jack’s mother, Nicky, 45, described the decision as “a disgrace”, adding: “It sets a precedent to allow doctors to go out and do what they like.”
She said Dr Bawa-Garba “thinks her career is more important than the life of my son”, adding: “I’m going to fear for the lives of others, and there’s a question I’d like to ask. If she does actually go back to work and she contributes to someone else’s death, whose head is on the block for that? I hope that any patient she’s due to treat will realise who she is and refuse to be treated by her.”
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