Dr Bawa-Garba victory –‘a defining moment’

Doctors supporting Dr Bawa Garba outside the High Court last August

DR BAWA-GARBA’s victory, in reversing the General Medical Council’s decision to strike her off the medical register over the death of a patient was a ‘defining moment’, BMA leader Dr Chaand Nagpaul, will say in his speech to the BMA annual conference this morning.

He will demand that doctors must not be scapegoated for medical errors or vilified for whistleblowing about NHS cuts.

The BMA’s most senior doctor will tell hundreds of the country’s doctors who have gathered in Belfast that medicine is a profession in ‘a state of fear with doctors unable to provide patients with the care they need’.

He will say that more than 90% of BMA doctors still feel afraid of making mistakes and are too frightened to raise concerns or report medical errors.

In a draft of his speech sent to News Line, Dr Nagpaul says: ‘This environment is tragically making doctors sick. In the BMA’s recent mental health survey over 80% of doctors said they’re at high risk of burnout with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition impacting their work.’

He will tell delegates that the BMA has worked tirelessly this past year to tackle a culture of threat and fear and to bring an end to a system which makes a crime out of medical error and makes criminals out of doctors who make genuine mistakes.

He will say the culture: ‘Poisons our NHS and in the case of surgeon David Sellu, it wrongly cost him 15 harrowing months of his life behind bars.’

Nagpaul added: ‘If the government seriously wants to ensure patient safety it must fund the NHS properly – we haven’t the money for enough staff, beds, and facilities. As a result, the government is unashamedly breaking its promise in the NHS Constitution to the people of England.

‘Last winter, almost one in four patients were left waiting over four hours to be seen in Emergency departments, and less than half of hospital trusts treated patients within the 18-week target.

‘Why does our government still decide that our patients don’t deserve the same funding as patients in France or Germany?’

He will conclude: ‘I tell you who pays – our patients, left without doctors. The Treasury is taxing doctors out of the NHS and seriously undermining patient care. It must act now to avert a workforce meltdown.’