Doctors tell medical council boss his position is 'untenable' over Bawa-Garba case

Charlie Massey called to resign by medical professionals' union over 'personal attack' on junior doctor involved in death of six-year-old

Tom Barnes
Tuesday 28 August 2018 19:17
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Hadiza Bawa-Garba: Doctor at centre of sepsis death case should be able to return to work Court of Appeal rules

Hospital doctors have told the chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC) his position is “untenable” after his handling of the case of a junior doctor struck off when a six-year-old boy died in her care.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of Jack Adcock, won a bid last month to be reinstated on the register of medical professionals at the Court of Appeal earlier this month.

Many doctors have argued important issues pertaining to the case, including staff shortages, IT failures on the day and inappropriate working conditions, had all been ignored by the GMC.

Jack, who suffered from Down’s syndrome and a known heart condition, died at Leicester Royal Infirmary of a cardiac arrest as a result of sepsis in February 2011.

Dr Bawa-Garba was found to have made several mistakes in the lead up to Jack’s death.

She briefly stopped CPR on him after he went into cardiac arrest, mistaking him for another patient, although this was not deemed to have contributed to his death.

The paediatrician was initially suspended for a year by a tribunal, but was later struck off after the GMC appealed the sanction at the High Court, claiming it did not protect the public.

However, the appeal decision earlier this month upheld the original tribunal ruling in June 2017, confirming it was right to take mitigating factors into account and clearing Dr Bawa-Garba to return to work.

Now, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) union is warning GMC chief executive Charlie Massey the organisation may never restore the confidence of the medical profession under his leadership.

Jack Adcock died at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011 

The HCSA said on Tuesday it had several specific concerns around Mr Massey’s conduct, including what it described as his personal decision to attempt to override the tribunal’s decision in the case.

“While there are wider cultural issues about the GMC’s treatment of doctors facing complaints, the gross mishandling of this specific case, including the decision to launch a renewed personal attack on the integrity of Dr Bawa-Garba as part of the GMC’s defence in the appeal court, appears to be the sole responsibility of Charlie Massey,” HCSA executive member Dr John West said.

“It now seems that the GMC will only be able to draw a line under this disastrous episode via the departure of its main architect.”

Doctors and supporters of Dr Bawa-Garba had raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to hire an independent legal team in order to help her fight her deregistration.

Many argued the junior doctor was being scapegoated for systemic failures at the hospital, which were becoming increasingly common across the NHS as a whole.

A spokesman for the GMC said: “We recognise the anger felt by many doctors about this case. As an independent regulator responsible for protecting patient safety, we are frequently called upon to make difficult decisions, and we do not take that responsibility lightly.

“We have fully accepted the Court of Appeal‘s judgment, in what was a complex and unusual case.”

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