The case of Bawa-Garba vs GMC has become a lightning rod for a profession at breaking point

The Doctors’ Association UK Press Release regarding the judgement in the Hadiza Bawa-Garba appeal Monday 13th August:

The case of Bawa-Garba vs GMC has become a lightning rod for a profession at breaking point

Doctors await the judgement of Bawa-Garba vs GMC with trepidation. Our thoughts are very much with Jack’s family, as they seek justice for Jack who was six years old when he tragically lost his life to sepsis. Our thoughts are also with Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who under immense pressure that day, was sadly unable to save Jack’s life.

The case has become a lightning rod for a profession at breaking point. (1) Many of us are working on critically understaffed wards and in under-resourced departments, with an increasingly unmanageable workload. On the day Jack died, Dr Bawa-Garba was doing the job of 4 doctors; covering 6 wards, across 4 floors, responding to numerous paediatric emergencies, whilst supervising 2 junior doctors new to paediatrics, without a functioning IT system, and in the absence of a consultant. All when just returning from 14 months of maternity leave.

The message from the GMC at Dr Bawa-Garba’s appeal was clear; that these systemic failures should not have been taken into account when determining whether an otherwise excellent doctor should be struck off. We now find ourselves in the unprecedented situation where doctors feel that on any given day in the NHS, that they too could be criminally convicted and pursued by their regulator in the courts to ensure that they will never practice medicine again. The GMC has shown it cannot be trusted to take a balanced and non-punitive approach in the context of system failures. (2)

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, Chair of The Doctors’ Association UK said “This is desperately sad case, and one which has rocked the medical profession. The concerted action by the GMC against Dr Bawa-Garba has not only halted progress on the safety agenda, but set it back decades. We are hopeful that the judgement on Monday will be in Dr Bawa-Garba’s favour, and an otherwise competent and dedicated doctor will be able to return to the profession she loves. A positive outcome for Dr Bawa-Garba today will represent a shift away from a culture of fear and blame, to one of learning, that the NHS so sorely needs”.

Dr Cicely Cunningham, Learn Not Blame (3) Lead of The Doctors’ Association UK said “The NHS desperately needs an open, transparent, learning culture, where harm is minimised by learning from error and failings. Scandals such as Mid-Staffs, Gosport, and Morecambe Bay repeatedly demonstrate how a culture of defensiveness and denial can escalate into widespread cover-up leaving families fighting for answers. The climate of fear amongst the medical profession created by the GMC’s actions over Dr Bawa-Garba only makes it more likely that this will happen again. If the High Court ruling is overturned, this will be one small step in the right direction towards a just culture.”

CONTACT

Contact@dauk.org

 

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden

Chair, The Doctors’ Association UK

07875379150

 

Dr Cicely Cunningham

Learn Not Blame Lead, The Doctors’ Association UK

07906834463

DAUK will be attending Hadiza’s appeal and will be present for comment following the judgement.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.On 28th February The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) wrote a letter to Mr Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC expressing overwhelming concern regarding the handling of the Bawa-Garba case. This letter was signed by over 4500 doctors and several MPs. The letter can be found here.

2.In April DAUK submitted evidence to the Williams Review on gross negligence manslaughter, in which we recommended that the GMC be stripped of the right to appeal decisions of the MPTS. This review concluded that the GMC’s right to appeal had had “significant unwelcome and unintended consequences” and upheld our recommendation that the GMC should lose this power. Our full submission can be found here.

3.Following the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba DAUK launched our campaign Learn Not Blame, seeking to change the way medical error is approached in the UK. Our aim is to transform the current culture of blame and fear, into one of learning. We believe this is vital for patient safety, and have received cross-party support for the campaign, as well as backing from our peers. More information on the campaign can be found here.