A mother of a boy killed by hospital blunders accused doctors of ‘sticking together’ to prevent the paediatrician responsible being struck off.
Jack Adcock, six, died after Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba missed signs of sepsis and marked him ‘do not resuscitate’, having mixed up the schoolboy with another child who had already been discharged.
The medic was later convicted of manslaughter through gross negligence and received a suspended jail sentence.
But she has been allowed to remain on the medical register after an independent Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel ruled that she should not be struck off.
The General Medical Council is appealing against that decision, saying that public trust in the profession will be harmed if a doctor can continue after a manslaughter conviction.
The High Court is due to hear the case tomorrow and almost 800 medics and other professionals have signed a petition supporting her. In a letter to The Times, medical professionals said the pursuit of Bawa-Garba put ‘the culture of candour in medicine at risk’ and was ‘perpetuating an injustice’ against the doctor, who previously had an unblemished career. But Jack’s mother, Nicola Adcock, 43, said she was ‘disgusted that doctors are all sticking together’ and suggested Bawa-Garba, 40, had escaped with a ‘slap on the wrist’.
Adcock, who lives with Jack’s father, Victor, 52, and their daughter in Glen Parva, Leicestershire, added: ‘She’s never been held accountable for what she did. She hasn’t gone to prison, she hasn’t been struck off. Never once did she ever say sorry to us, she showed no remorse, nothing.’
She urged the GMC to hold firm for other families, saying: ‘Would you want someone convicted of gross negligence manslaughter treating your child?’
Sepsis kills at least 44,000 people a year and The Daily Mail has campaigned hard to raise awareness about it. Jack, who had Down’s syndrome, was admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary with diarrhoea and vomiting in February 2011, but developed sepsis – which occurs when the body reacts violently to an infection. Within 11 hours his skin had turned blue and he couldn’t hold up his head. The trial heard that Bawa-Garba had only returned from 14 months of maternity leave a few weeks before Jack’s death, and had received no re-training.
In June, the MPTS panel suspended her for at least a year, saying her mistakes were not ‘irremediable’ and citing ‘wider failures’ at the hospital.
In the letter, organised by David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist in Birmingham, doctors including paediatrician Kim Holt, who blew the whistle over Baby P, wrote: ‘We know of no evidence that terminating Dr Bawa-Garba’s medical career will make any patient safer.
‘On the contrary it promotes a climate of defensiveness’. By last night, 786 professionals, mainly from the medical field but also a handful of teachers, dentists and an accountant, had signed the online petition.
John Kirwan, a signatory and retired consultant rheumatologist, said: ‘Everybody has the utmost sympathy with the family involved in this case. But many of us feel the GMC is going beyond its role in challenging the tribunal panel in a way that’s going to make it very difficult for doctors to admit mistakes.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said ‘safe spaces’ where doctors can admit errors without it being used against them are crucial to ending a culture of cover-ups in the NHS.