HOSPITAL doctors have told the chief executive of the medical register that his position is “untenable” due to his handling of the case of a paediatrician who was struck off following the death of a six-year-old boy in her care.
Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of Jack Adcock, won her bid to be reinstated to the General Medical Council (GMC) at the Court of Appeal earlier this month.
The actions of the GMC have 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.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) union is now warning chief executive Charlie Massey that the GMC may never restore the confidence of the medical profession under his leadership.
The HCSA said on Tuesday that it has raised several specific concerns around Mr Massey’s conduct, including what it described as his personal decision – without reference to the GMC council – to seek to override the findings of its own tribunal service in the case.
Dr Bawa-Garba was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in 2015 after Jack died from sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011.
A tribunal ruled in June last year that she should remain on the medical register despite her conviction, but issued a one-year suspension.
The GMC then 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, before being reinstated two weeks ago.
HCSA executive member Dr John West said: “This is not a conclusion we have come to lightly, particularly given the tragedy of young Jack Adcock’s death and the distress his family have already gone through, but the fact remains that the chief executive’s personal fingerprints are all over a case which has seen doctors’ confidence in the GMC collapse.
“The level of distrust and anger that we are seeing among hospital doctors has prompted begrudging apologies and a review into the laws surrounding such cases.
“Yet at no point has the chief executive of the GMC taken personal responsibility for his actions.
“Indeed, we continue to await an acknowledgement that he was incorrect to seek to overturn the considered view of his own medical professional tribunal.
“While there are wider cultural issues about the GMC’s treatment of doctors facing complaints, the gross mishandling of this specific case, including the decision to launch a renewed personal attack on the integrity of Dr Bawa-Garba as part of the GMC’s defence in the Appeal court, appears to be the sole responsibility of Charlie Massey.
“It now seems that the GMC will only be able to draw a line under this disastrous episode via the departure of its main architect.”
A spokesman for the GMC said: “We recognise the anger felt by many doctors about this case.
“As an independent regulator responsible for protecting patient safety, we are frequently called upon to make difficult decisions, and we do not take that responsibility lightly.
“We have fully accepted the Court of Appeal’s judgment, in what was a complex and unusual case.”