Doctors seek public inquiry over GMC handling of Bawa-Garba case

Senior doctors will demand a public inquiry into the GMC's handling of the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba and the resignation of the regulator's top officials at the BMA's annual conference this month.

Doctors at the BMA annual conference are set to criticise the GMC over Bawa-Garba
Doctors at the BMA annual conference are set to criticise the GMC over Bawa-Garba

Citing 'widespread concerns about the adverse effects of the GMC’s actions in the Bawa-Garba case and its impact on NHS culture and morale', doctors from the BMA's Sheffield division will call for a no confidence vote in the regulator.

A vote by the BMA's annual conference would step up pressure from the union on the regulator following a no confidence vote by GPs at the LMCs conference earlier this year.

The motion to be proposed by the Sheffield division will also call for an apology from the GMC over its handling of the Bawa-Garba case, demand the resignation of its chair and chief executive, a public inquiry 'to review the GMC's conduct' and legislation to make the government - not doctors - pay for the regulator.

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The full agenda for the BMA annual conference, which takes place in Brighton from 24 to 28 June, reveals that BMA divisions from across the UK put forward similar motions for debate - with multiple calls for GMC resignations and expressions of anger at the handling of the case of Dr Bawa-Garba.

Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off earlier this year after a medical tribunal ruled that she should be suspended for 12 months, but the ruling was overturned by a GMC challenge in the High Court.

Responding to the BMA conference motion, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘We are listening to what doctors are saying and we are in no doubt about the strength and depth of feeling that is being expressed. We know that we have a huge amount to do to rebuild the trust that we have lost.

Reflective writing

‘We’ve made a series of commitments with the BMA and others to work together and address the concerns of the profession. We have called for reflective writing to be legally protected. We are proactively working with the BMA, the medical profession, the four UK governments and other partners to improve how doctors can register safety concerns when working in under-resourced environments.

‘We have also commissioned an independent review, led by Dame Clare Marx, into how cases of gross negligence manslaughter, and culpable homicide in Scotland, involving doctors are initiated and investigated. And we have commissioned a major project, led by Roger Kline and Dr Doyin Atewologun, to better understand why some doctors are referred to the regulator for fitness to practise issues more than others. We are not just committing the GMC to publishing a report; we will work with the system to apply that work to where problems are identified.’

Mr Massey has previously apologised for the impact the Bawa-Garba case has had on the medical profession's confidence in the GMC, and for the deep misgivings it has triggered in doctors about their ability to take part in written reflection.

However, the regulator argues that its hands were tied by the earlier court conviction Dr Bawa-Garba had received for gross negligence manslaughter, and that an appeal was the only option because a medical tribunal could not take 'a less severe view of the personal culpability of a doctor' than had been established in a criminal court.

The regulator has launched a review into how it handles gross negligence manslaughter cases. Mr Massey said last month that doctors currently faced a postcode lottery over how the law was applied.

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