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GMC ruling alarms doctors amid crisis

Jeeves Wijesuriya, Junior doctors committee

The BMA is to address concerns from across the profession following a High Court judgement last week affecting a junior doctor.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya is to meet GMC chief executive Charlie Massey in the first of a series of meetings to address doctors’ concerns with the impact of a High Court ruling which removed Hadiza Bawa-Garba from the register.

The BMA is also offering support and assistance to Dr Bawa-Garba through her legal team.

The meeting follows a judgement in the High Court which ruled in favour of an appeal by the GMC to have Dr Bawa-Garba, who in 2015 was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence, removed from the medical register.

The ruling overturns a previous decision by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to impose a 12-month suspension from medical practice on Dr Bawa-Garba, and has ignited wider concerns about what impact the ruling will have on doctors’ confidence for raising concerns in the future.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said the case raised wider issues about the GMC’s approach to such cases, and how systemic failings were accounted for when mistakes were made.

He said: ‘The case has also brought into sharp focus the environment in which doctors now work. A climate in which many doctors feel under stress daily, as they are forced to work without the support, colleagues or resources to provide safe quality care for patients.’

Dr Nagpaul outlined a number of actions the BMA would be taking in the wake of the ruling. He said that in the urgent meetings with the GMC, the association would ‘address head-on the wider issues raised by the case’.

‘We will raise the fact that many doctors see the outcome as one that will encourage a culture of fear and defensiveness in the NHS, in which system failings will not be adequately taken into account when mistakes are made.’

In addition, he said the BMA would be providing guidance and support to doctors, who were all too often working in a system which prevented them from providing safe, quality care. This included advice on using exception reporting and Datix systems where available.

And he said the BMA would be continuing its work highlighting the unacceptable pressures on the NHS, encouraging doctors to come forward with their own experiences.

He said: ‘I believe that the greatest risk to patient safety is an under-resourced, understaffed NHS which is forcing doctors, nurses and all healthcare staff to work under the most challenging of conditions.’

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