Although some doctors celebrated when the Court of Appeal overturned Hadiza Bawa-Garba’s erasure from the medical register, it is argued here that in many ways the ruling is by no means good news for the medical profession. Doctors’ interests are served by transparent professional tribunals but the Court of Appeal’s approach to the GMC Sanctions Guidance risks increasing opacity in decision-making. Close attention to systemic factors in the criminal trial protects doctors yet the Court of Appeal states that the structural circumstances surrounding Bawa-Garba’s failings were only of peripheral relevance to her conviction. Public confidence in the profession is undermined when convicted doctors return to work because the public de facto do not understand the nuance of gross negligence manslaughter law. Rather than changing the law to make the regulator more lenient towards doctors, it would be better to ensure that doctors are only convicted of gross negligence manslaughter when their conduct is so serious that they ought to be struck off.
- criminal law
- philosophy of medicine
- bills, laws and cases
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Contributors NH planned and drafted the manuscript.
Competing interests NH is a junior doctor practising in Northampton, UK.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.