DR Hadiza Bawa-Garba is to be allowed to remain on the medical register after the Court of Appeal quashed an earlier High Court decision in favour of the GMC to have her struck-off following a 2015 conviction for manslaughter by gross negligence.
The case involved the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock from sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011. The Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) had originally decided to suspend Dr Bawa-Garba for one year but the GMC had taken the MPTS to court to overturn that decision in favour of erasure.
The Appeal Court decision overturns that ruling now allowing Dr Bawa-Garbe to continue to practise medicine in future.
Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton said that no concerns had "ever been raised about the clinical competence of Dr Bawa-Garba, other than in relation to Jack's death".
He added that the tribunal was satisfied her actions in relation to the boy were "neither deliberate nor reckless" and did "not present a continuing risk to patients".
Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: "We fully accept the Court of Appeal’s judgment. This was a case of the tragic death of a child, and the consequent criminal conviction of a doctor. It was important to clarify the different roles of criminal courts and disciplinary tribunals in cases of gross negligence manslaughter, and we will carefully examine the court’s decision to see what lessons can be learnt.
"As the independent regulator responsible for protecting patient safety we are frequently called upon to take difficult decisions, and we do not take that role lightly… This was a complex and unusual case; while the decisions we took were in good faith, we know that investigations and hearings are difficult for everyone involved.
"Although gross negligence manslaughter cases in medicine are extremely rare, this case has exposed a raft of concerns, particularly around the role of criminal law in medicine, which is why we have commissioned an independent review to look at how it is applied in situations where the risk of death is a constant, and in the context of systemic pressure."
RCP president Professor Dame Jane Dacre commented: "The judgment of the court of appeal is a welcome step towards the development of a just culture in healthcare, as opposed to a blame culture. As we said in our evidence to the GMC review of medical manslaughter, focusing on blame serves nobody, least of all patients, families, friends and carers.
"While the primary aim of investigations into the deaths of patients is to apportion blame, it is less likely that systemic faults will be uncovered and future lives saved, which must be the priority. On 18 February 2011, Jack Adcock was not the victim of a truly, exceptionally bad doctor, but of an overstretched system that saw a competent trainee covering the workload of several doctors."
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