Campaign supports doctor struck off in struggling NHS
Medics in the United Kingdom and across the globe have rallied to support a junior British doctor struck off the medical register following a two-year suspended prison sentence over the death of a six-year-old patient.
In 2015, the Nottingham Crown Court found 38-year-old Hadiza Bawa-Garba guilty of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Jack Adcock, a Down’s syndrome sufferer who was admitted to the Leicester Royal infirmary in 2011.
Jack was admitted to the hospital following a heart attack caused by pneumonia-related septic shock.
He died 11 hours after being admitted.
A nurse was also given a two-year suspended jail sentence over the boy’s death.
The doctor at the centre of the tragedy, however, was also originally suspended from practising medicine for 12 months.
But in January this year, Bawa-Garba was struck off the register when the General Medical Council (GMC) appealed against that decision.
The GMC called for her total “erasure from the medical register”.
This has outraged many working doctors, who insist Bawa-Garba was partly convicted from her own e-portfolio self-appraisal.
They also say she is a victim of the National Health Service (NHS) under stress in the UK.
A crowd funding campaign has been launched to help pay legal costs for the struck-off doctor.
In just a couple of weeks, the campaign raised more than £160,000 in support of Bawa-Garba.
More than 1,500 UK doctors signed a letter expressing their “deep-seated concerns” over how the case was handled and its resulting in the doctor being struck off the register.
Their letter argues that the ruling threatens the open culture that currently encourages doctors to be open and honest in self-appraisals when endeavouring to learn from medical error.
“Dr Bawa-Garba’s case has extraordinary ramifications, with large numbers of doctors recognising that her conviction puts all doctors at risk in the context of a healthcare system which is clearly bearing enormous stress at a national level,” the doctors wrote.
“The case also has implications for patient safety across the UK because healthcare professionals will henceforth be reluctant to share knowledge openly or reflect on clinical errors for fear of criminal prosecution.”
The campaign, known as CrowdJustice, was set up by three junior doctors aiming to raise money so Bawa-Garba can be: “Offered additional independent expert legal advice in respect to challenging the decision that she be permanently erased from the medical register.”
The campaign also hopes to seek advice about her criminal conviction.
Bawa-Garba has also received support from doctors around the world, including Australia.
Bawa-Garba said she was “overwhelmed with gratitude” and plans to employ a top legal team to review both the decision to strike her from the register, and her criminal conviction.
The GMC has defended its decision to ask for the doctor’s erasure from the register, but added that doctors should never hesitate to act openly and honestly if something goes wrong.
“We know the strength of feeling expressed by many doctors working in a system under sustained pressure, and we are totally committed to engendering a speak-up culture in the NHS,” GMC’s chief executive Charlie Massey said in a statement.
The initial trial heard that Bawa-Garba had mistaken Jack for another patient she had treated that day and had stopped life-saving treatment on him.
Bawa-Garba said that working without a break could have mistakenly led her to believe that Jack was under a Do Not Resuscitate order when he was actually not.
Jack’s parents cheered in court at the guilty decision in 2015. They have also welcomed this year’s High Court ruling allowing Bawa-Garba to be struck off the medical register.