Doctor convicted of negligence over death of six-year-old boy can return to practise

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Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has not worked since November 2015 when a jury convicted her of gross negligence manslaughter but a tribunal has said she can return to work next year. (PA)
Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has not worked since November 2015 when a jury convicted her of gross negligence manslaughter but a tribunal has said she can return to work next year. (PA)

A doctor who received a suspended jail sentence over the death of a six-year-old boy can practise again, a medical tribunal has ruled.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has not worked since November 2015 when a jury convicted her of gross negligence manslaughter in her treatment of Jack Adcock who developed sepsis and died of cardiac arrest at Leicester Royal Infirmary in February 2011.

Among her failures were an incorrect diagnosis of gastro-enteritis on initial examination of the youngster – who had Down’s Syndrome and a heart condition – and not acting on a clinical reading which “ought to have been a clear indicator” of sepsis, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing was told.

In December 2015 she handed a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Hadiza Bawa-Garba: Doctor guilty of child’s manslaughter by negligence to be allowed to return to work
Hadiza Bawa-Garba: Doctor guilty of child’s manslaughter by negligence to be allowed to return to work

She was later barred from practise for 12-months before the General Medical Council (GMC) took the case to the High Court to appeal against the sanction, saying it was “not sufficient” and Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off in January 2018.

But last August the Court of Appeal ruled her name should be restored to the medical register and her case be sent back to the MPTS.

On Tuesday, a tribunal ruled that a raft of conditions be imposed on her registration for 24-months from the end of July when her suspension ends.

The conditions include that Dr Bawa-Garba must be closely supervised by a clinical supervisor, she must have an educational supervisor and she must allow the GMC to exchange information with any person involved in monitoring her compliance with her conditions.

Jack’s parents Nicky and Victor Adcock outside the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service headquarters in Manchester. (PA)
Jack’s parents Nicky and Victor Adcock outside the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service headquarters in Manchester. (PA)

The tribunal directed a review of Dr Bawa-Garba’s case take place shortly before the end of the period of conditional registration in which the doctor will be expected to show she has made a successful return to clinical practice and her skills and knowledge are up-to-date.

Dr Bawa-Garba told the tribunal: “This case will live with me for the rest of my life.”

Tribunal chairwoman Claire Sharp said the risk of Dr Bawa-Garba putting another patient at unwarranted risk of harm was low and the evidence showed she had undertaken a “significant” amount of remediation.

Mrs Sharp said: “Given the remediation Dr Bawa-Garba has already undertaken and the full insight she has developed into her shortcomings, the tribunal was satisfied that Dr Bawa-Garba has the potential to respond positively to remediation, retraining, and to her work being supervised.”

Jack Adcock died as a result of sepsis while he was being treated by Dr Bawa-Garba
Jack Adcock died as a result of sepsis while he was being treated by Dr Bawa-Garba

Dr Bawa-Garba was “on the cusp” of becoming a consultant prior to the incident as a specialist registrar but plans to take a step back in grade “some years” when she returns to work in February 2020 following maternity leave.

She will undergo a national recruitment process where all paediatric trainees are reassessed.

Arguing for conditions, Mr Hayton conceded there was a series of failures on her part that led to her performing far below acceptable standards in 2011 but added “these failings stand in isolation” in her career.

Simon Jackson QC, for the GMC, agreed that the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case was now a period of conditional registration.

Jack’s parents Nicky, 45, and Victor, 53, from Glen Parva, Leicestershire, fiercely opposed the doctor being allowed to practise again.

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Following the hearing, teaching assistant Mrs Adcock said: “She doesn’t care about anybody else.

“All she cares about is herself..Her career is more important than the life of my son.

“That day all she had to was ask for help.”

Mrs Adcock said she was “gobsmacked” when Dr Bawa-Garba was originally handed a 12-month suspension but then welcomed the GMC’s successful appeal to the High Court to strike her off.

A GMC spokeswoman said: “We would like to acknowledge how difficult this process has been for the Adcock family and our thoughts are with them.”

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