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HomeMedico-Legal AnalysisPaediatrician gains consultant status despite earlier removal from UK roll

Paediatrician gains consultant status despite earlier removal from UK roll

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor embroiled in a high profile battle with the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) after her conviction for manslaughter seven years ago, has now completed her specialist training and gained consultant status, reports Medscape. The case has similarities with the recent case of US nurse Radonda Vaught’s, where a medical error was treated as an individual, criminal failure rather than a systemic one.

Bawa-Garba, who had no direct supervision at the time of the incident and whose young patient also died, received a suspended sentence of two years. Her educational supervisor, Dr Jonathan Cusack, posted on the CrowdJustice platform: “Last week, Hadiza was awarded a Certificate of Completion of Training and joined the GMC Specialist Register as a fully trained consultant paediatrician.”

History of the case

Medscape reports that it all began in February 2011 when 6-year old Jack Adcock presented with vomiting and diarrhoea to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where Bawa-Garba was a specialist registrar “on the cusp” of becoming a consultant. She had no direct consultant supervision at the time, and it was admitted that her department was understaffed.

Her working diagnosis was that Jack, who had Down’s syndrome and a heart condition, had gastroenteritis and, by her own admission, she failed to appreciate how sick he was. His condition deteriorated but an IT systems failure led to a delay in accessing his test results and Bawa-Garba did not consider that he might have sepsis, from which he died later that day.

Bawa-Garba and two nurses were charged with gross negligence manslaughter in December 2014, and one of the nurses was convicted and later struck off. Bawa-Garba was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in November 2015 and received a 2-year suspended prison sentence.

Removal from the Medical Register

The GMC then sought to remove her from the medical register. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) rejected this, accepting Bawa-Garbaʼs plea that the unit was under severe pressure and she had failed to receive senior support.

Erasure was “disproportionate”, the MTPS said in June 2017, recommending instead that she should be barred from practice for 12 months but could stay on the register and return to practice after disciplinary action.

In 2017, the GMC lodged an appeal, and an initial court ruling agreed with removal from the register. She was struck off in January 2018.

The case left the UK medical profession
 rattled and thousands of doctors rallied in her support, backing a campaign, #IamHadiza, saying she had being unfairly made a scapegoat and was taking the blame for systemic failures within the NHS.

Re-instatement, and criticism of GMC

In August 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled she should be reinstated to the medical register. The case led to a government inquiry into the use of manslaughter charges against doctors and a campaign supported by 13 leading healthcare organisations against the GMC’s right to appeal MPTS decisions.

The government accepted the recommendations of the review, chaired by Professor Sir Norman Williams, including that the GMC should have its right to appeal fitness-to-practice decisions removed. This, the campaign said, “would help to address the mistrust of the GMC among doctors and contribute to cultivating a culture of openness that is central to delivering improved patient safety”.

A subsequent independent report agreed with the review’s conclusions and said Bawa-Garba’s case had led to a “fundamental loss of confidence in the GMC”.

It called on the GMC to make fundamental reforms to end what her supporters had called “a toxic culture of fear and individual blame in the health service” in place of the need “to learn from events and prevent future harm”.

Return to practice

Bawa-Garba had all sanctions against her removed last year and was allowed to return to unrestricted practice, a decision fiercely opposed by Jack’s parents.

The MPTS said that there were no longer any outstanding concerns over her clinical practice, and it was not in the public interest to maintain conditions.


Medscape article – Paediatrician Who Won Victory Over GMC Gains Consultant Status (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


GMC grossly mishandled junior doctor case — UK doctors


UK striking from medical register 'threatens learning from medical error'


Medical error and ‘chilling’ conviction of US nurse for criminally negligent homicide




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