The doctor struck off over mistakes that led to the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock in 2011 could return to work. It comes after the Court of Appeal upheld her challenge against the decision.
On 13 August, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba won her appeal against a High Court ruling earlier in 2018. She fought the ruling that said erasing her from the medical register was the only way to maintain confidence in the profession.
But the Court of Appeal found the earlier judgement was “wrong” and overturned its decision that Dr Bawa-Garba should be erased. It reinstated a 12-month suspension. The General Medical Council (GMC) has said it will not challenge the Court of Appeal judgement further.
The case and the GMC’s role have become a flash point for the medical profession, which has raised concerns about the chronic understaffing and unsustainable pressures in the health service, and the lack of protection for those working under these conditions.
The judgement by chief justice Lord Burnett, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lady Justice Rafferty said: “The Court of Appeal unanimously allows the appeal and it holds that 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 practise for 12 months, subject to review.”
‘I am sorry for what happened to Jack’
Speaking to the BBC from Nigeria after the ruling, Dr Bawa-Garba said: “I’m very pleased with the outcome, but I want us to pay tribute and remember Jack Adcock, a wonderful little boy who started this story.
“I want to let the parents know I am sorry for my role in what has happened to Jack.
“I’ve dedicated my life to medicine, it is my purpose. I can’t see myself being anything else but a practising doctor serving the community. So of course, when I got the news that I can be given the opportunity to work again, I was very pleased, and I thank god for this day.”
Jack, who was born with Down’s syndrome and a heart condition, was admitted to Leicester University Hospitals NHS Trust with digestive and respiratory issues. He was treated for acute gastroenteritis initially but died from sepsis brought on by pneumonia.
Though still training to be a paediatric consultant, Dr Bawa-Garba was the senior doctor on the ward and was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death. However, the GMC’s own tribunal service ruled in 2017 she should be allowed to return to work after a suspension of 12 months.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service had said erasure was “disproportionate” taking into consideration failings at the trust, including a lack of senior consultant cover, IT problems and staff shortages leaving Dr Bawa-Garba covering several wards.