The case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who has won her appeal against being struck off the medical register, is legally, emotionally and practically complex.
On the one hand, you have medics arguing that a doctor was made the scapegoat for dangerous working conditions and on the other parents distraught at the death of their son.
While the case involves the tragic death of a child from sepsis, hopefully the lessons that can be learnt and the discussions generated will benefit both health professionals and patients.
Looking forward it is the culture of openness – or lack of it – that needs to be the beneficiary from the result of the appeal, regardless of which side you are on.
Professional and patient groups alike highlighted the need to encourage an open culture where the focus was on identifying and addressing risks, and where all were empowered to raise concerns.
As Peter Walsh, from the charity Action against Medical Accidents, rightly said: “There continues to be too much of a blame culture where individual health professionals are made scapegoats for systemic failures.”
Needless to say, short staffing was also repeatedly mentioned by those commenting on the case. And we know the dangers of failing to address staff shortages and lack of openness – there must never be another Mid Staffs.
But let us not forget that a nurse was also involved in the case. She was subsequently sentenced to a three-year suspended jail sentence in November 2015 and then struck off the nursing register.
Like the doctor, Isabel Amaro was also found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence, after her monitoring of Jack Adcock’s condition and record-keeping were criticised.
But unlike that of Dr Bawa-Garba, there has been little talk of her case or whether she should be reinstated – even though she was surely working in the same pressured situation as her medical colleague.
“Is this just another example of the lobbying power of the medical profession?”
Is this just another example of the lobbying power of the medical profession? Probably – though it’s hard to gauge as I’ve not heard any nursing organisation speaking out on behalf of Ms Amaro.
One for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to think about perhaps? Could the NMC proactively take another look at her case? In light of the successful appeal by her medical colleague this seems only fair.
Unfortunately, it also seems very unlikely. There was no trace of Ms Amaro in any of the press material I received about the case on Monday. She did get a brief mention on the BBC’s Panorama documentary, but that was it.
In contrast, over £160,000 was raised by medics to fund Dr Bawa-Garba’s appeal and more than 1,500 of them signed a letter expressing concerns about her treatment and arguing that it threatened a “culture of openness”.
My feeling on the fallout from the case is therefore twofold and harks back to the Speak Out Safely campaign run by Nursing Times in the wake of Mid Staffs.
Health professionals must be able to safely highlight concerns without fear of censure, but they must also see it as their responsibility to highlight concerns – as must the organisations representing them.