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Publication Detail
Cross-sectional exploration of the impact of the Dr Bawa-Garba case on doctors’ professional behaviours and attitudes towards the regulator
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Medisauskaite A, Potts H, Gishen F, Alexander K, Sarker S-J, Griffin A
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  • Journal:
    BMJ Open
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  • Notes:
    This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Objective This paper examines the impact on doctors’ attitudes towards the General Medical Council (GMC) and on professional behaviours (reflective practice and raising concerns) following the Dr Bawa-Garba case. Design A cross-sectional survey designed using the theoretical lens of the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) was administered from September 2017 to February 2019. By chance, this coincided with critical events in the Dr Bawa-Garba case. Setting Primary and secondary care settings across a broad geographical spread in England. Participants 474 doctors. Outcome measures Attitudes towards the GMC and two professional behaviours in TPB dimensions. Results Attitudes towards the GMC became more negative during the period that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service and GMC suspended and subsequently erased Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register. Specifically, confidence that doctors are well regulated by the GMC and that the GMC’s disciplinary procedures produce fair outcomes was rated more negatively. After this period, overall attitudes start to recover and soon returned close to baseline; however, confidence in how the GMC regulates doctors and their disciplinary procedures improved but still remained below baseline. There was no change in doctors’ attitudes or intention to reflect or raise concerns. Conclusions The lack of change in doctors’ attitudes towards the GMC’s guidance, the approachability of the regulator, defensive practice and professional behaviours as a response to the Dr Bawa-Garba case demonstrates the resilient and indelible nature of medical professionalism. At the time, professional bodies reported that repairing doctors’ trust and confidence would take time and a significant effort to restore. However, this study suggests that attitudes are more fluid. Despite the high-profile nature of this case and concerns articulated by medical bodies regarding its impact on trust, the actual decline in doctors’ overall attitudes towards the GMC was relatively short lived and had no measurable impact on professionalism.
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