England Junior doctor

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GMC commitments follow Bawa-Garba ruling

Charlie Massey, GMC Chief Executive
GMC chief executive Charlie Massey committed the GMC to addressing doctors' concerns

Doctors have secured a series of pledges from the GMC as part of a wide-ranging plan to tackle concerns raised by the Bawa-Garba ruling.

The pledges were agreed with the regulator last week, after an urgent summit between BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey and other senior figures at the regulator.

Dr Wijesuriya said doctors had been ‘rocked’ by the case of Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a junior doctor who has been removed from the register following a successful GMC appeal to the high court ruling last month.

Dr Bawa-Garba was originally suspended from the medical register by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service following a manslaughter conviction in 2015.

‘We were very clear about the anger, frustration and most importantly fear that has spread throughout the profession, due to issues brought into sharp focus by the GMC’s recent actions,’ Dr Wijesuriya said in a blog post, outlining the BMA’s action to date.

‘Doctors are understandably angry at recent events,’ he added.

‘They deserve to work and train without fear of losing their livelihoods, owing to pressures beyond our control.

‘We must fight for the no-blame culture that we know keeps patients and doctors safer.’

Dr Wijesuriya said he had personally offered Dr Bawa-Garba and her family support.


Meeting of minds

Following the meetings, the GMC has pledged to:

  • never ask doctors to provide their reflective statements if investigating concerns about them
  • collaborate with the BMA and the Academy Trainee Doctors’ Group on GMC guidance on reflection
  • push for the standardisation of exception reporting across England
  • work with the BMA and the wider medical profession to improve how doctors of all grades can register safety concerns about working in an under-resourced environment.

The GMC agreed ahead of the meeting to examine urgently issues around medical manslaughter.

‘We recognise the strength of feeling expressed by many doctors,’ GMC chair Terence Stephenson said.

‘It is clear that there is a critical need to examine the wider issues around how gross negligence manslaughter cases are initiated and investigated.’

The JDC is also working with the BMA’s legal and policy teams to analyse the ruling and its wider implications for medical practice – especially when working under huge pressure.

The BMA will be flagging and updating advice and guidance and has already published a Q&A for doctors considering resigning their GMC registration as a personal protest – a move not without significant risks.

Updated guidance on reflection points out that Dr Bawa-Garba’s own medical defence organisation had confirmed that her e-portfolio did not form part of the evidence before the court and jury.

The JDC is also in discussions with senior officials at Health Education England, the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, to ensure reflections remain a useful tool for learning and for patient safety.

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