The death of Jack Adcock at Leicester Royal Infirmary was a tragedy for all concerned; the devastating loss of a son for the Adcock family and a gruelling eight-year ordeal for Paediatric Registrar, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba. Last week, the GMC’s Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal Service (‘MPTS’) found Dr Bawa Garba’s fitness to practise (‘FTP’) remained impaired due to the length of time she had been away from medical practice, but permitted a return from July 2019, subject to conditions for 24 months. She will be subject to ‘close supervision’ for a period of 3 or 6 months, depending on the type of post she obtains. The level of supervision will then reduce, but she will still need a clinical supervisor.
Dr Bawa-Garba has indicated that she does not intend to return to work until February 2020 following maternity leave.
It is clear from the MPTS' decision that the extent of Dr Bawa-Garba’s remediation and insight played a significant part in the decision to keep the period of close supervision short. The tribunal was struck by the fact that Dr Bawa-Garba frequently attends regular meetings with her supervisor with journal articles and clinical scenarios for discussion.
This case has caused great controversy as doctors feared that they could be convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and struck off if they made a mistake in diagnosis. They have emphasised that they want to be involved in engendering a ‘learn not blame’ culture in the face of human error in an overstretched NHS. Since the Court of Appeal decision the GMC has announced the Marx / Hamilton Review into medical manslaughter and that its investigators will be given ‘human factors’ training.
In June 2018 the government announced its support for the Williams' Review into GNM which recommended that the GMC should lose its right to appeal an MPTS decision. This recommendation is yet to be implemented.