Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dr Bawa-Garba Case Update: Dr Bawa-Garba successfully appeals to be allowed to practice again

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba who had been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after the death of six-year-old boy has successfully appeals to be allowed to practice again.

A Bench of three judges in the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the High Court in saying that “… It holds that the Divisional Court was wrong to interfere with the decision of the Tribunal. The Court of Appeal sets aside the order of the Divisional Court that Dr Bawa-Garba should be erased from the Medical Register and restores the order of the Tribunal that she be suspended from practice for 12 months subject to review.” The Court of Appeal restored the lesser sanction of a one-year suspension.

Announcing the ruling, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton expressed their “deep sympathy with the parents and respect for the dignified and resolute way in which they have coped with a terrible loss in traumatic circumstances”.

The judgement said, “No concerns have ever been raised about the clinical competence of Dr Bawa-Garba, other than in relation to Jack’s death, even though she continued to be employed at the Hospital until her conviction. The evidence before the Tribunal was that she was in the top third of her Specialist Trainee cohort.

The Tribunal was satisfied that her deficient actions in relation to Jack were neither deliberate nor reckless, that she had remedied the deficiencies in her clinical skills and did not present a continuing risk to patients, and that the risk of her clinical practice suddenly and without explanation falling below the standards expected on any given day was no higher than for any other reasonably competent doctor.”

The Tribunal was an expert body entitled to reach all those conclusions, including the important factor weighing in favour of Dr Bawa-Garba that she is a competent and useful doctor, who presents no material continuing danger to the public, and can provide considerable useful future service to society.”

Here is a brief recap of the case:

lIn February 2011, a six-year-old boy with Down syndrome died due to sepsis

lIn November 2015, Dr Bawa-Garba and also a nurse on duty at that time were convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. On the basis of the legal test for that offence, the jury found their conduct to be “truly exceptionally bad”.

lIn 2017, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) had imposed a sanction of immediate suspension for a period of 12 months rather than striking her name off the register after hearing and taking into account the various systemic failings at the hospital. But, the GMC appealed in the High Court against this decision.

lIn January 2018, the High Court quashed the order of suspension of the Tribunal and substituted an order of erasure to protect public confidence in the profession in January this year following an appeal from the GMC, which argued that suspension was "not sufficient" to protect the public or maintain public confidence in the medical profession.

lIn March 2018, Dr Bawa-Garba was granted leave to challenge her erasure from the medical register in the Court of Appeal.

We had extensively deliberated on this case in eMedinewS. The relevant links are as below:

(Source: Telegraph UK; Judiciary UK Media statement, August 13, 2018)

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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