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Doctors to protest against General Medical Council

Doctors are angry about the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba after she was erased from the medical register.

Doctors will show a public demonstration of no confidence in their regulator as they protest against the striking off of one of their colleagues.

The General Medical Council (GMC) succeeded in getting Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba erased from the medical register after taking the case to the High Court last month.

She was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock, after he developed sepsis in 2011, and she received a suspended jail sentence in 2015.

But many doctors have reacted angrily to the GMC’s measures, arguing they are concerned many of the issues raised by the case – such as dangerous levels of understaffing, failure of IT systems, and staff being forced to work in inappropriate conditions – have been ignored.

They are arguing that rather than highlight any of these issues, the GMC is transferring all of the blame to an individual.

Dr David Nicholl, an NHS consultant, has written a letter to the GMC chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, accusing it of “neither protecting the public or doctors” and using the junior doctor as a scapegoat.

“These actions are bringing the practice of medicine into disrepute by discouraging trainees from pursuing careers in those medical specialities with an associated higher risk,” he said.

“This is clearly not in the interests of patients.”

Dr Nicholl has written of concerns of conflicts of interest and lack of independence and accountability in decision making at the top level of the organisation, and called for chief executive Charles Massey to step down.

Three other doctors have set up a crowdfunding page which has raised more than £275,000 so Dr Bawa-Garba can launch a civil appeal against the High Court decision.

Doctors said they “in no way wish to undermine the unspeakable tragedy or grief that Jack’s parents and loved ones must be experiencing”.

Dr Nicholl added: “We are in fact speaking out on this issue to make sure that this kind of scenario with so many systemic failures never happens again.”

Jack, from Glen Parva, Leicestershire, had Down’s Syndrome and a known heart condition. He died at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011 after developing sepsis.

It is claimed staff shortages meant Dr Bawa-Garba was forced to undertake the roles of three or four doctors, and a subsequent investigation at Leicester Royal Infirmary confirmed serious systemic failings at the hospital.

Protesters will gather outside the GMC offices in central London before they join other health workers, patients, union members and activists in a wider march to demand an end to the “crisis” in the NHS.

The event, called NHS in crisis: Fix it now, is being organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together.

A spokeswoman for the GMC said: “We understand the strength of feeling this tragic case is raising from many doctors, and we want to continue to work with them to address the wider issues.

“In particular we are working with the British Medical Association, medical royal colleges and with legal experts to look at how gross negligence manslaughter cases are applied to medical practice.

“We recognise that any doctor, no matter how experienced, can make a mistake, particularly when working under pressure. We are doing everything we can to bring positive improvements out of this issue.”

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