Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba could be cleared to return to work within days

A Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) review hearing has begun to assess the fitness to practise of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba and decide whether she can safely return to work.

MPTS is based at St James Building, Manchester (Photo: Getty Images)
MPTS is based at St James Building, Manchester (Photo: Getty Images)

The hearing - expected to conclude either on 8 or 9 April - follows a Court of Appeal decision to quash a GMC bid to have Dr Bawa-Garba struck off the medical register following a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter. The case triggered widespread concern across the medical profession.

The court ruled that Dr Bawa-Garba’s original MPTS sanction of a 12-month suspension - which was then extended by a further six months from December 2018 - was adequate.

According to information published on the MPTS website, the tribunal will ‘review the case of Dr Bawa-Garba, whose fitness to practise has previously been found to be impaired by reason of a conviction or caution, and whose registration is suspended until 28 July 2019’.

Fitness to practise

If it is ruled that Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired, she will be restored to the medical register and able to return to work.

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, chair of campaign group the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), told GPonline: 'We are hopeful today that the MPTS will restore Dr Bawa-Garba to the medical register. Such an outcome would help restore the confidence of the medical profession and would represent a move away from a culture of blame, to one of learning.'

Dr Bawa-Garba was erased from the medical register in January 2018 after the GMC appealed against a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) decision that she should be suspended for 12 months. The regulator argued that Dr Bawa-Garba should be struck off because the tribunal decision showed it had taken a less severe view of her actions than an earlier court that convicted her of gross negligence manslaughter (GNM) following the death of six-year-old patient Jack Adcock in 2011.

The case caused uproar among doctors across the UK, with LMCs backing a vote of no confidence in the GMC. At the same time, pressure group GP Survival urged doctors to boycott reflective entries during appraisal.

Decision reversed

In August 2018 the Court of Appeal overturned the 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.

The MPTS then decided that Dr Bawa-Garba’s fitness to practise should be ‘subject to a further period of suspension for six months’ to ‘protect the public and the public interest’. The extension was agreed by both the GMC and Dr Bawa-Garba, who said she felt ‘unable to attend a public hearing at present due to personal circumstances.’

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