The case of Dr Bawa-Garba continues to attract considerable media coverage and understandable concern from the medical community. This is a tragic case for all involved.

Following recent correspondence with our Fellows and Members, the case was discussed at our recent full Council meeting. As the details have continued to emerge, the College has also discussed the case with the General Medical Council (GMC), as well as at the Scottish and UK Academy meetings.

Decisions around such cases can have a significant impact on the medical profession, and the College is aware that this decision has raised concerns regarding the potential bearing it could have on the working and training environment for many doctors.

We welcome the early attention of the House of Commons Health Select Committee to the High Court’s decision, and its potential wider impact on doctors across the UK. The Health Select Committee raised some vital questions which the College is also asking, relating to the GMC’s position on reflective practice, what considerations the GMC takes into account when deciding that an appeal against a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service decision is merited, and whether there needs to be a review of the legislation or guidance where there have been allegations of medical negligence.

The College also welcomes the decision of the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to order an urgent review of medical malpractice cases in light of this decision and we await progress on this.

We will continue to work closely with our Trainees and Members’ Committee and the Recently Appointed Consultants Committee, to ensure that a clear plan is in place for all medical staff to feel valued and supported in their roles.

College President Professor Derek Bell OBE said:

“The College has both written to, and spoken directly with the GMC about this tragic case. We have raised a number of questions that must be addressed, some of which were also asked by the Health Select Committee.

“As a College, we welcome the early work of the House of Commons Health Select Committee on the matter. Their intervention is useful in understanding the wider implications.

“The GMC must ensure that the impacts of this decision are fully understood and that any unintended consequences are mitigated. Sadly errors in care can and do occur, but in order to address these, the College and others have highlighted the need for all healthcare professionals to learn from serious failings in care.

“We must encourage an open and no-blame culture where focus is on identifying and addressing system failures and risks, and where all staff and patients are empowered to raise concerns over standards of care. Only by doing so can we ensure that we learn from cases such as this and prevent similar tragedies from occurring.”


1. For updates regarding the Health Select Committee’s work on GMC v Bawa-Garba:

2. For an exchange of correspondence with Charlie Massey, CEO and Chief Registrar of the GMC:

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658