Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, previously convicted of gross negligence manslaughter, today restored to the medical register and able to return to practice
Today, there is widespread relief amongst the medical profession. However, the verdict is no cause for celebration. At the heart of this case is a child, Jack Adcock, who tragically lost his life to sepsis. Our hearts go out to the Adcock family as they continue to grieve for Jack.
When a child dies it is our duty as doctors to do all we can to prevent the same tragedy from occurring again. We strongly feel that scapegoating an individual doctor or clinician for human errors made whilst whilst working under enormous pressure, does not serve this purpose. Instead, the criminalisation of medical error creates a culture of fear and blame, where clinicians feel afraid to speak up, afraid to reflect, and afraid to learn when things go wrong.1
Therefore, we welcome the verdict of the Medical Tribunal Practitioners Service (MPTS) today, who, after considering all the system failures and the context in which Dr Bawa-Garba made errors, has found her safe to return to medical practice, albeit with conditions on her license. We are especially pleased that the MPTS had accepted Dr Bawa-Garba has “fully remediated”. With widespread support from the medical profession and the Royal Colleges we hope that she will be fully supported in a return to work.
Dr Jenny Vaughan, Law and Policy Officer DAUK and Founder of Manslaughter and Healthcare said:
“I’m a patient, doctor and a mother and I know that Jack Adcock should have received better care. However, Dr Bawa-Garba was working in appalling conditions that day in an NHS hospital and all the evidence of what the hospital actually needed to put right was not heard by the jury. There is a culture of blame in the NHS at the moment which, if left unchecked, will mean patient safety is not what it should be as staff will be too scared to admit their mistakes. The next generation of those who want to care will simply vote with their feet. It’s right that Dr Bawa-Garba is going to be restored to the medical register as the hospital too was at fault and should have provided better care. We are calling for a just culture so that the system here is made safer as locking up individuals achieves nothing.”
Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, Chair of The Doctors’ Association UK said:
“Today’s verdict, whilst welcome, is no cause of celebration. 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. I have no doubt that Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba will now be the safest doctor in the hospital, and as a doctor and a mother I would have no hesitation in allowing her to treat my child. ”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. In November 2018 DAUK launched our campaign Learn Not Blame in Parliament, for a just culture in the NHS. DAUK continues to campaign for the decriminalisation of medical error and feels strongly that no clinician should face criminal charges for honest errors. https://www.dauk.org/learnnotblamedauk