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A 21st Century Witch Hunt: Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba deregistered by the UK General Medical Council


Dr Hazida Bawa-Garba

In 2011 Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was a specialist registrar in year six of her postgraduate training (ST6) with the National Health Service in the UK. In 2010 she took maternity leave and returned to work early in February 2011. On the 18th she began a new appointment at Leicester Royal Infirmary and was immediately thrown in at the deep end.

She had never worked at the hospital, but found that her consultant was not available, the other two registrars were away, so she was asked to look after their departments as well as her own, making her responsible for five wards - including Emergency and Maternity - over four floors of the hospital, taking calls from GPs, and dealing with other emergencies. The Hospital computer system was down, so the information available to her was sketchy, and there were long delays in getting anything done. Most of the nursing staff on duty that day had been with the hospital for less than a week. She received no induction for “staffing reasons” and missed the morning handover because she was already tending to a child in cardiac arrest.

It is absurd to expect any individual to cope under these circumstances, and logically the hospital should have been put on 'Bypass', as even a registrar familiar with the hospital, with all the systems working, and an experienced nursing staff, would have been hard put to handle all the competing demands, and failures would have been almost inevitable.

At about 10.30 Jack Adcock, a six-year-old boy with Down's syndrome, a congenital heart disease and heart failure, was admitted to the hospital. When Dr Bawa-Garba saw him she did all the right things, and at 6pm he seemed to be over the worst, but his mother gave him his regular dose of enalapril at 7pm, and soon afterwards he suffered a heart attack and died at 9.20pm.

This should have been the end of the matter, but the General Medical Council decided that Bawa-Garba - a heathen black woman - would make a good scapegoat, and after a long witch hunt they eventually managed to get her permanently barred from practising medicine. The whole sorry saga must have cost the country a fortune, and has done immense damage to the standing of the medical profession in Britain, to the point many young doctors are considering moving to less unenlightened countries.

I have done my best to follow the story, and set out my interpretation of events in the sections below.

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019

21C Witch hunt

The UK GMC persecutes an innocent Nigerian doctor