News ID: 230483
Published: 0757 GMT August 28, 2018

Britain’s medical watchdog chief faces calls to step down over Bawa-Garba case

Britain’s medical watchdog chief faces calls to step down over Bawa-Garba case
Hadiza Bawa-Garba

Hospital doctors are calling for the head of Britain’s medical regulator to stand down over his handling of the case of a pediatrician who was struck off following the death of a six-year-old boy.

Anger at the General Medical Council (GMC) has been building around the case of Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor who this month won her bid to be reinstated to the medical register after she was earlier convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of Jack Adcock, reported.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) said that doctors' confidence in the GMC had collapsed and that the departure of the council’s chief executive, Charlie Massey, was the only way to draw a line under the affair.

Members of the union believe that issues raised by the case, including levels of understaffing, failures of IT systems and staff working in inappropriate conditions, have been ignored.

Bawa-Garba was held responsible for the death of the child, who suffered heart failure after going into septic shock while in her care at Leicester Royal infirmary in 2011.

A tribunal ruled in June last year that she should remain on the medical register despite her conviction, but issued a one-year suspension.

The regulator took the case to the high court to appeal against the sanction, saying it was ‘not sufficient’ and Bawa-Garba was struck off in January before being reinstated on August 13.

The HCSA said it had raised several specific concerns around Massey's conduct, including what it described as his personal decision to seek to override the findings of its own tribunal service in the case.

Dr. John West, a member of the HCSA executive, said, “The level of distrust and anger that we are seeing among hospital doctors has prompted begrudging apologies and a review into the laws surrounding such cases.

“Yet at no point has the chief executive of the GMC taken personal responsibility for his actions. Indeed, we continue to await an acknowledgement that he was incorrect to seek to overturn the considered view of his own medical professional tribunal.

“While there are wider cultural issues about the GMC's treatment of doctors facing complaints, the gross mishandling of this specific case, including the decision to launch a renewed personal attack on the integrity of Dr. Bawa-Garba as part of the GMC's defense in the appeal court, appears to be the sole responsibility of Charlie Massey.

“It now seems that the GMC will only be able to draw a line under this disastrous episode via the departure of its main architect."

A spokesman for the GMC said, “We recognize the anger felt by many doctors about this case. As an independent regulator responsible for protecting patient safety, we are frequently called upon to make difficult decisions, and we do not take that responsibility lightly.

“We have fully accepted the court of appeal's judgment in what was a complex and unusual case.”

Bawa-Garba had been on her first shift back after 14 months away on maternity leave on February 18, 2011, when Jack, who had Down’s syndrome, was admitted to hospital with sickness and diarrhea. After an initial examination, he was treated for acute gastroenteritis and dehydration but his condition continued to deteriorate.

It subsequently emerged Jack had been suffering from pneumonia, and antibiotics were given. He went into septic shock, which led to organ failure and a heart attack, and he was pronounced dead at 9:20 p.m.


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