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Back to blame: the Bawa-Garba case and the patient safety agenda

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5534 (Published 29 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5534

Re: Back to blame: the Bawa-Garba case and the patient safety agenda

I am very sorry that Jack Adcock died and I am sorry for the distress that his death caused his family.

I have read that Dr Bawa-Garba is a conscientious doctor who made mistakes in the care of Jack Adcock. Had she not made those mistakes he might have survived. There were also system problems and others made mistakes.

The decision of the GMC to take a tough stance against Dr Bawa-Garba contrasts with the GMC’s leniency when dealing with doctors whose conduct is more worrying. The GMC took no action against 100 doctors placed on the Sex Offenders Register (SOR) for accessing child pornography - they remained on the Medical Register without even the requirement to inform their patients that they were on the SOR. The GMC allowed a consultant gynaecologist to remain on the Medical Register without restrictions when he was placed on the SOR. The GMC allowed doctors to remain on or return to the Medical Register after a period of suspension after one performed inappropriate private surgery, including total colectomy, for personal gain; after one gave desperate patients with cancer expensive private treatments that have no scientific basis; after several defrauded charities and medical insurance companies, and a doctor who appeared before two separate Fitness to Practise Panels that found that he repeatedly committed research misconduct.

The GMC should deal forcefully with doctors that are deliberately and repeatedly dishonest rather than a conscientious doctor who made a single clinical error.

Competing interests: I reported to the GMC some of the doctors referred to in this response.

05 December 2017
Peter T Wilmshurst
Consultant cardiologist
Royal Stoke University Hospital
Newcastle Road, Stoke-on-Trent