Paediatrician ‘has become more mature’ since death of 6-year-old boy, panel told

A paediatrician bidding to return to work following her conviction over the death of a six-year-old boy has done “everything she can to put things right”, a medical tribunal has heard.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba (pictured) was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in 2015 over the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock who died from sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011.

She was later banned from practice for 12 months before the General Medical Council (GMC) took the case to the High Court to appeal against the sanction, saying it was “not sufficient” and Dr Bawa-Garba was struck off in January 2018.

But last August the Court of Appeal ruled her name should be restored to the medical register and her case be sent back to the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

On Monday a new MPTS tribunal sat to review her suspension which is due to run out at the end of July.

Dr Bawa-Garba was not present at the tribunal which heard she had recently given birth to her fourth child and would give evidence via videolink from her home.

Nicky and Victor Adcock, the parents of Jack, who had Down’s Syndrome and a heart condition, did attend the hearing in Manchester and oppose the doctor being allowed to return to practise.

The tribunal heard that Dr Bawa-Garba had been unable to work since her conviction and had not dealt with patients face to face for more than four years.

Giving evidence, consultant neonatologist Dr Jonathan Cusack, who was Dr Bawa-Garba’s educational supervisor, said he first met her in 2008 when she was a “hard working” and “well liked” middle grade doctor.

But when he next came into contact with her in 2014 he noticed she had changed, he said.

Dr Cusack said: “She was much more subdued, she was more reflective.

“Clearly what had happened had had an effect on her.”

He said he continued to see her regularly, at her request, as she wanted to maintain her clinical skills and knowledge.

He added: “I think she has become more mature over time. She does regret the mistakes she has made.

“She has done everything she can to put things right.

“I think she has insight.

“She needs to work on how she gets back into clinical practice because of her long break.”

Dr Cusack said he felt she had fully remediated her mistakes.

“There is nothing that gives me concern,” he said.

The tribunal heard the doctor was “on the cusp” of becoming a consultant prior to her conviction but, if allowed to return to work, would have to take a step back in grade where she would be subject to ongoing monitoring in any event.

When she was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years in 2015 a judge said neither she nor a nurse who was on duty “gave Jack the priority which this very sick boy deserved”.

The actions of the GMC to appeal against the original suspension angered many doctors who said important issues raised by the case, including dangerous levels of understaffing, failures of IT systems and staff working in inappropriate conditions, had been ignored.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Leicestershire Police / PA Wire.