Appeal Judges Reserve Judgement Over Manslaughter Doctor's Striking Off Ruling

26 July 2018, 13:10

Hazidz Bawa Garba 2

The Court of Appeal has reserved its judgment on a challenge over the decision to strike off Leicester Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock.

After a day of argument in London, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett sitting with Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice Rafferty, said that they would "take time" to consider their ruling.

He told lawyers on Thursday: "We will let you have the judgment just as soon as we are able but you appreciate that it may not be possible to do so within the next few days."

The legal term is due to end on July 31 with normal sittings resuming on October 1, so it is possible that a ruling will not come until then.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba is fighting a decision made in January by two High Court judges to substitute erasure for the lesser sanction of a year's suspension imposed by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) in June last year.

Their ruling followed a successful appeal by the General Medical Council (GMC), which argued that suspension was "not sufficient" to protect the public or maintain public confidence in the medical profession.

Jack Adcock, from Glen Parva, Leicestershire - who had Down's Syndrome and a known heart condition - died at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011 after he developed sepsis.

After a 2015 trial at Nottingham Crown Court, Dr Bawa-Garba was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years.

The prosecution said Jack died after a series of failings by medical staff, including Dr Bawa-Garba's "failure to discharge her duty" as the responsible doctor.

Dr Bawa-Garba's counsel James Laddie QC told the appeal judges that the MPT's decision was "humane and balanced".

He said: "The MPT concluded that suspension was an appropriate sanction which was necessary in the public interest.

"That conclusion was within its margin of judgment and was rational. Indeed the MPT's conclusion was correct.

"The ordinary intelligent citizen recognises that NHS doctors work under intense pressure in environments where systems are less than perfect and where one-off mistakes may have tragic consequences.

"The same citizen recognises that to err is human and that public confidence places a greater value on remediation and redemption than on retribution."

Arguing the appeal should be dismissed, Ivan Hare QC for the GMC, said the High Court plainly had regard to the individual circumstances of the case and its reasoning was straightforward and correct, he said.

"The MPT undermined the 2004 Rules and the jury's verdict by reaching its own conclusion on Dr Bawa-Garba's individual culpability by reference to systemic failings and the failings of others."