Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba cleared to return to work 'with conditions'

A medical tribunal has cleared Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba to return to work, just over a year after she was struck off by the GMC in a case that sparked widespread anger over a 'culture of blame' in the NHS.

The tribunal found that Dr Bawa-Garba's fitness to practise ‘remains impaired’ after a long period away from clinical work, but has ruled that she can return to work from July 2019 under ‘close supervision’.

Nine conditions set out by the MPTS state that Dr Bawa-Garba will be monitored by a ‘responsible officer’, a ‘workplace reporter’, an ‘educational supervisor’ and a ‘clinical supervisor’ - the contact details of whom must be shared with the GMC - for 24 months.

The Leicester doctor is currently on maternity leave and has said she intends to return to work from February 2020 'to work as an ST4 doctor as part of an approved training programme'.

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The MPTS ruled that Dr Bawa-Garba must ensure the GMC is kept up to date with details of her job title, job location, any organisation where she has practising privileges and/or admitting rights and any training programmes she is enrolled in.

Dr Bawa-Garba must also draw up a personal development plan (PDP) with ‘with specific aims to address any areas identified by her educational supervisor’ - a copy of which will be shared with the regulator.

The MPTS ruling reads: ‘The tribunal was satisfied that the imposition of these conditions on Dr Bawa-Garba’s registration will be sufficient to allow her safe and successful return to practice and to also adequately protect the public.

'The current order of suspension will not be revoked as it was imposed to meet the public interest issues raised by Dr Bawa-Garba’s conviction; the conditions will therefore not become effective until the current order of suspension expires which, in the absence of any appeal of this decision, will be in July 2019.’

Fitness to practise

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘The GMC and Dr Bawa-Garba’s representatives both submitted to the medical practitioners tribunal that her fitness to practise remains impaired due to the length of time she has been out of practice. It is important the doctor’s return to practice is safely managed.

‘The tribunal agreed, making a finding of impairment, and they have imposed conditions on Dr Bawa-Garba’s registration for two years in order to allow her to return safely to practice.’

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, chair of campaign group the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), said: ‘Today’s verdict, while welcome, is no cause for 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.’

Struck off

Dr Bawa-Garba was erased from the medical register in January 2018 after the GMC appealed against an MPTS decision that she should be suspended for 12 months.

The case caused widespread concern among doctors across the UK, with LMCs backing a vote of no confidence in the GMC and some GPs choosing to boycott written reflection as part of appraisal.

In August 2018 the Court of Appeal overturned the GMC's decision to remove Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register. The court ruled that the MPTS 'was entitled to take account of systematic failures at the hospital, and failures by other staff who worked there, when deciding what action to take in relation to Dr Bawa-Garba', and restored the initial one-year suspension.

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