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Doctors to protest against General Medical Council over 'scapegoating' junior medic

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was struck off the medical register. Credit: PA

Doctors are to show a public demonstration of no confidence in their regulator the General Medical Council (GMC) after one of their colleagues was struck off.

Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was taken off the medical register after she was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock.

Her colleagues have reacted angrily to the GMC's measures, arguing that they are "scapegoating" an individual and not taking into account pressures medics face such as understaffing and the failure of IT systems.

Dr David Nicholl, an NHS consultant, has written a letter to the GMC chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, accusing it of "neither protecting the public or doctors" and using the junior doctor as a scapegoat.

"These actions are bringing the practice of medicine into disrepute by discouraging trainees from pursuing careers in those medical specialities with an associated higher risk," he said.

"This is clearly not in the interests of patients."

Six-year-old Jack Adcock died in 2011 after developing sepsis.

Doctors said they "in no way wish to undermine the unspeakable tragedy or grief that Jack's parents and loved ones must be experiencing".

Dr Nicholl added: "We are in fact speaking out on this issue to make sure that this kind of scenario with so many systemic failures never happens again."

He said that there were concerns of conflicts of interest and a lack of independence and accountability within the regulator and called for chief executive Charles Massey to step down.

Three other doctors have set up a crowdfunding page that has raised more than £285,000 so Dr Bawa-Garba can launch a civil appeal.

Doctors are planning to gather outside the GMC offices ahead of the NHS in crisis: Fix It Now march planned on Saturday.

Jack, from Glen Parva, Leicestershire, had Down's Syndrome and a known heart condition. He died at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011 after developing sepsis.

It is claimed staff shortages meant Dr Bawa-Garba was forced to undertake the roles of three or four doctors, and a subsequent investigation at Leicester Royal Infirmary confirmed serious systemic failings at the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the GMC said: "We understand the strength of feeling this tragic case is raising from many doctors, and we want to continue to work with them to address the wider issues.

"In particular we are working with the British Medical Association, medical royal colleges and with legal experts to look at how gross negligence manslaughter cases are applied to medical practice.

"We recognise that any doctor, no matter how experienced, can make a mistake, particularly when working under pressure. We are doing everything we can to bring positive improvements out of this issue."