High Court judges will rule whether a doctor found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of a six-year-old boy should be struck off.
Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba received a year-long suspension in June but retained her medical licence in a ruling by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal.
However, the General Medical Council (GMC) has appealed against the punishment, claiming that a suspension is ‘not sufficient to protect the public’.
After a trial in 2015 at Nottingham Crown Court, Dr Bada-Garba was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years following the death of Jack Adcock.
Jack, who had Down’s Syndrome and a heart condition, died under the doctor’s care at Leicester Royal Infirmary after developing sepsis in 2011.
At the trial, it was established that Jack died after medical staff’s failings, including Dr Bawa-Garba’s ‘failure to discharge her duty’ as the responsible doctor.
Andrew Thomas QC said she failed to recognise Jack was suffering from septic shock and when he collapsed, she momentarily stopped life-saving treatment after mistakenly believing he was under a ‘do not resuscitate’ order.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Nicol said there was no evidence that Dr Bawa-Garba or a nurse on duty at the time had neglected Jack because they were lazy or had behaved for other selfish reasons.
He said: ‘You both had other patients to attend to. The problem was that neither of you gave Jack the priority which this very sick boy deserved.’
At the appeal hearing, Lord Justice Gross told the courtroom, which included Jack’s mother Nicola Adcock: ‘As is obvious, this is a tragic case all around. We fully understand that.’
Ivan Hare QC, for the GMC, said: ‘The confident expectation that her career would be ended was plainly regarded as relevant by the judge to mitigation and to his decision to impose a suspended sentence of 24 months’ imprisonment.’
But Sean Larkin QC, defending Dr Bawa-Garba, said the suspension was sufficient to protect the public.
The tribunal found that the risk of Dr Bawa-Garba putting a patient at unwarranted risk of harm was low.
He added that the sentencing remarks of the judge, who did not have the benefit of the evidence put before the tribunal, were not binding upon the Tribunal.
This week, more than 700 professionals signed a letter to The Times supporting Dr Bawa-Garba, who was also at the High Court.