News, Culture & Society

Doctor whose failings led to the death of a six-year-old boy WILL be allowed to return to work

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba (pictured above) apoligised to the parents of Jack Adcock

A doctor whose failings led to the needless death of a six-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome will be able to practice again, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service has ruled.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba had previously confessed to a number of errors in relation to her treatment of Jack Adcock, after he came into her care at an assessment unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011.

It has now been ruled that she will be able to return to work after maternity leave. Dr Bawa-Garba has recently had a baby and was still breastfeeding the child.

She was told it would be okay to leave evidence to go and breastfeed during evidence.

Her failings included not looking at X-rays promptly and failing to see that he was suffering from Sepsis and to administer the appropriate antibiotics. 

The youngster tragically lost his life later that day and in November 2015 Dr Bawa-Garba was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence for her actions at Nottingham Crown Court.

She was also given a two year suspended sentence the following month. 

In June 2017 she was suspended from working by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) for 12 months. 

The following year she was struck off the register, but this was overturned after medics rallied round her and raised £200,000 for her legal battle.

Jack Adcock

Jack Adcock

Jack Adcock (left and right) had come into the care of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba at an assessment unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011

Nicky and Victor Adcock outside the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service headquarters in Manchester following the hearing today

Nicky and Victor Adcock outside the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service headquarters in Manchester following the hearing today

Many claimed Dr Bawa-Garba, who was 35-years-old at the time, was being used as a scapegoat when it was the system in place that was responsible for the incident. Her current suspension is due to run until July this year but she plans to remain off work with her newly born child until February. 

This week her case was called at the MPTS in Manchester as she attempted to return to work. 

During the course of proceedings she issued an apology, while giving evidence via videolink, to the parents of Jack who were sitting in on the hearing. 

She said: ‘I apologised for my role in patient A’s death, I wrote a letter through my former solicitor, I also apologised again in front of the court in London.

Jack Adcock (pictured above) lost his life after Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba's failings

Jack Adcock (pictured above) lost his life after Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba’s failings 

‘I would like to take today’s opportunity to say that I am sorry for patient A’s death.’

But Nicky Adcock, mother of Jack, said: ‘It is difficult to listen to lies.’ 

The tribunal also heard from Dr Johnathan Cusack, her educational supervisor who had met with her regularly and had a plan for her to return to work.

He said she had learnt from the error and nothing gave him concern about the prospect of her returning to work as a paediatrician. 

Today the tribunal ruled she would be able to return to work.

Tribunal chair Claire Sharp said there would be a period of supervision for 24 months with a review at the end of this. 

She said: ‘The current period of suspension will remain in place until it expires. 

‘There will be a period of close supervision followed by a period of supervision.

 ‘It is set out in the written judgement.’ 

The document set out by the tribunal said conditions included she must tell the GMC about any job she receives including its title, location and the officer responsible for her. 

She also has to design a personal development plan with her education supervisor. 

She is also unable to work in any locum post or fixed term contract for less than three months. As well as this she must be supervised by a clinical supervisor but the level of supervision will be reduced gradually.

Dr Jenny Vaughan, Law and Policy Officer DAUK and Founder of Manslaughter and Healthcare said: ‘I’m a patient, doctor and a mother and I know that Jack Adcock should have received better care. 

‘However, Dr Bawa-Garba was working in appalling conditions that day in an NHS hospital and all the evidence of what the hospital actually needed to put right was not heard by the jury.

‘There is a culture of blame in the NHS at the moment which, if left unchecked, will mean patient safety is not what it should be as staff will be too scared to admit their mistakes.’

She added that the next generation of those who want to care will simply ‘vote with their feet’. 

‘It’s right that Dr Bawa-Garba is going to be restored to the medical register as the hospital too was at fault and should have provided better care. ‘We are calling for a just culture so that the system here is made safer as locking up individuals achieves nothing.’

This is while Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, Chair of The Doctors’ Association UK said the verdict was welcome but was no cause of celebration.

‘There are no winners in this desperately sad case. 

‘However, restoring Dr Bawa-Garba to the medical register is the right outcome and will go some way in addressing the current climate of fear and blame in the NHS which is so toxic to patient safety. 

‘I have no doubt that Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba will now be the safest doctor in the hospital, and as a doctor and a mother I would have no hesitation in allowing her to treat my child.’