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News from Eastwoods

10 Apr 19

Dr Bawa-Garba Restored to the Medical Register

April 10, 2019

Following a hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunals Service (MPTS) this week, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba has been permitted to return to clinical practice. . The decision is the culmination of a lengthy saga for Dr Bawa-Garba, who in 2015 was convicted of Gross Negligence Manslaughter, following the death of her patient, Jack Adcock, in 2011.

With Dr Bawa-Garba having now been out of clinical practice for four years, her representatives agreed with the GMC that her fitness to practise remains impaired, and as such, when she returns to work her registration will be subject to a number of conditions, including close supervision. Dr Bawa-Garba’s period of conditional registration (which has been imposed for a period of two years) will come into effect when her suspension is formally lifted in July 2019, and it is anticipated that she will return to work in February 2020, after a period of maternity leave.

For further details and commentary on the decision, click here.

03 Apr 19

Clinical Negligence Scheme for GPs Launched

April 3, 2019

On 1 April 2019, the government officially launched the long-awaited Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice. The scheme will now see GPs receive state-backed indemnity cover from NHS Resolution, cover which has for several years only been available to hospital-based doctors.

The scheme will provide comprehensive indemnity cover for claims arising from incidents which occur in a GP setting, on or after 1 April 2019. Any claims relating to incidents occurring before that date will not be covered by the scheme, meaning GPs will need to refer any such claims to their Medical Defence Organisation (MDO)/indemnity provider.

The launch of the new scheme follows two years of extensive consultation involving the likes of the BMA, MDOs, NHS England and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and although those consultations have highlighted an expectation that GPs will still require MDO cover, the scheme represents a dramatic change for GPs across the UK.

NHS Resolution has published a guidance page on the scheme, which can by accessed here.

21 Feb 19

Eastwoods Supports Police Officers

February 21, 2019

We are delighted to announce that Eastwoods has recently been added to the Legal Service Providers Panel of the Police Federation of England and Wales. Our ethos and history is focused entirely on representing individuals faced with criminal, misconduct, employment and inquest proceedings and we look forward to extending this to police officers facing these issues.

08 Feb 19

Consultant Cardiologist faced Fitness to Practise Proceedings

February 8, 2019

Adam Smith was instructed by a consultant cardiologist who faced fitness to practise proceedings before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal of the MPTS regarding his alleged misconduct outside of the work environment. The case was an example of how conduct outside of work can have dramatic consequences for a doctor’s registration. The doctor concerned faced a (potentially lengthy) period of suspension from the medical register. At the conclusion of a one week hearing, a 1 month suspension was imposed, without the need for a review hearing, meaning that the doctor, a respected clinician, will be free to return to clinical work in the very near future.

24 Jan 19

Eastwoods successfully defend dentist

January 24, 2019

Simon Eastwood and Anita Puri (instructing Jamas Hodivala of 2 Bedford Row) successfully represented a General Dental Practitioner before a Professional Conduct Committee of the General Dental Council.  The Practitioner faced a range of charges relating to his alleged misconduct and dishonesty.  The Committee determined that the facts found proved did not amount to misconduct and therefore found that his fitness to practise was not impaired, thereby concluding the case with no further action.

02 Jan 19

GP IT Systems To Be Updated by 2023/2024

January 2, 2019

The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock, has announced government plans to overhaul IT systems in NHS GP practices by 2023 to 2024.  The GP IT Futures Framework will create a platform for an open, competitive market for the best technology firms to invest in the NHS and move towards the use of cloud-based technology for the storage and transfer of patient records.

With the current market dominated by two main providers, it is intended that the new framework will speed up innovation and reduce delays by allowing quicker, easier access to and transfer of patient data between GP practices, hospitals and social care settings.  All providers will be required to meet minimum technological and security standards, with the government confirming that any systems not meeting those standards will not be used.

For further details on the government’s proposals, click here.

27 Nov 18

Bullying and harassment of NHS doctors, dentists, civil servants and House of Commons staff revealed in 3 separate reports in 2018. How big is the problem in the public sector, and what can be done?

November 27, 2018

The issue of sexual harassment, an extreme abusive form of bullying, went viral this year following the revelations made by the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, powered by a belief that ending the silence collectively can start to change things.  Attracting less publicity but no less shocking has been the extent of bullying in the UK’s public services highlighted in separate reports by the British Medical Association (BMA), the First Division Association (FDA) and Dame Laura Cox’s report into the treatment of staff in Parliament.

What is bullying?  There is no legal definition but ACAS define bullying and harassment together as  “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Despite this definition, when considering harassment it is the deed itself and the impact on the target that matters, not the intention of the perpetrator.

The BMA began a bullying and harassment project in 2017 and reported its findings this autumn. When asked, “Is there a problem with bullying, undermining or harassment in your main place of work?”  10 % of the doctors surveyed said  Yes, often, and 29% said Yes, sometimes. When doctors were asked “Why do you think there is or may be a problem with bullying, undermining or harassment in your main place of work?” the 3 top reasons given were “people are under pressures” (64%), followed by “difficult to challenge as behaviour comes from the top (62%) and “people who are bullied undermined or harassed are too afraid to speak” (59%). One in five had experienced bullying in the past year. The effects on individuals were brutal, with reports of doctors feeling sick and emotionally broken, losing sleep, and confidence in their clinical decision making. Some felt ashamed, finding it difficult to say anything to anyone. It is clear bullying is a health hazard.

Doctors are less likely than other NHS staff to report incidents of bullying than other NHS staff. Only one in three hospital doctors and dentists reported it, and only a quarter of junior doctors. Being afraid to speak up can cost lives. This was acknowledged by the Freedom to Speak Up review by Sir Robert Francis in 2015 after the Mid Staffordshire NHS FT scandal which exposed unacceptable levels of patient care and a staff culture that deterred staff from raising concerns. Despite the fact that every NHS employer will make public statements about valuing staff and will have a Freedom to Speak up guardian in place, it is clear from the BMA report  that doctors fear speaking out.

The FDA reported on a survey of its civil service membership earlier this year.  45% of the respondents said that they had personally experienced harassment by a colleague.  Only one third of respondents felt confident a harassment complaint against a colleague would be properly investigated. 40% had a “low” or “very low” level of confidence in the complaints process.

Parliament has even worse problems revealed in Dame Lara Cox’s report into the treatment of staff employed in the House of Commons.  She spoke to 200 current and former House of Commons staff 68% of those who came forward with information were women.

She  reported finding “a culture, cascading from the top down, of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence, in which bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive and have long been tolerated and concealed.” She was told “management remains disproportionately influenced by a small number of individuals drawn from a limited number of public schools and the Oxbridge universities. The organisation of the institution remains traditionally hierarchical, with significant power held by MPs and by senior Clerks to the detriment of the lower grades and those employed outside of the Clerks’ Department…. There is a calculated aloofness and a kind of sniffiness at anything external, which is part of the template for sustaining the institution and concealing its problems.”

She reports, “Some areas of the House were described as having a particularly bad reputation for sexist or racist attitudes and “banter”, or were known to have “bad or dysfunctional management,” or a “macho culture in which women in particular are not welcome,” or where some managers run their teams “like fiefdoms, while others turn a blind eye” and “regard themselves as untouchable.” Some women described always being asked to buy the coffee or make the tea, or take notes of meetings, for example, or being humiliated in front of colleagues by comments about why they needed to work or have a career if they had a husband, or “why do we need another woman in here, we already have two.” Some members of staff from “BAME” backgrounds reported racist abuse, or being frequently challenged as to their right to be in particular parts of the estate. In such conditions can bullying and sexual or racial harassment flourish and the accounts indicate some serious problems in some areas. “

There were very low levels of trust in the complaints procedures which in any event were considered to be inadequate by Dame Laura.

What is the way forward.

  • It is clear policies alone will not solve embedded problems of culture. Senior management needs to address the power dynamics of the organisation and take appropriate practical steps to support the “ zero tolerance “ values set out in public statements, including education and acceptance of the need to change. Active monitoring, anonymous surveys collating feedback from occupational health and exit interviews can help to flag concerns.
  • Employees clearly need to have robust reassurance that if they take the risk of reporting bullying that they will be supported and the issue will be properly addressed. The absence of complaints does not imply there is no problem – it may mean that staff are too intimidated to speak out or engage with a daunting formal process. Employees should have access to a designated confidential mentor as an alternative or addition to a formal process.
  • Individuals have to weigh their position carefully. It would be a wise precaution to join a union. If there are formal procedures in place, these should be investigated and followed. There may be processes for confidential reporting and mediation.  Good record keeping is crucial.
  • Employees who suffer a personal injury, including stress related illness may be able to sue the employer. Employers have a binding legal obligation to protect the health safety and dignity of all workers under European and UK legislation. The EU Health & Safety Framework directive obliges employers to “ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to work”. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health and safety of employees, including protection from violence.
  • Employers have a common law obligation to establish a safe system of work. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm, including serious acts of bullying and harassment. Employers who breach those duties risk being sued for damages by injured employees for breach of duty of care and individual members of staff could be sued for assault in grosser cases.
  • Employees guilty of acts of harassment risk being criminally liable under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which makes it unlawful for a person to pursue a “course of conduct” ( 2 or more incidents) which they know or ought to know would be harassment. This includes causing alarm or distress, and “conduct” includes speech.
  • Employees with protected characteristics under the Equality Act can bring claims in the Employment Tribunal for harassment and discrimination while remaining employed against both employer and any perpetrator personally. Compensation includes a potential award for injury to feelings.
  • Employees who cannot stand the treatment any longer can resign and claim constructive dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. This should be a last resort and advice should be taken before taking this step. Proper legal advice should be taken before entering into “without prejudice” negotiation or signing any offered settlement agreement.

A copy of the BMA report can be found here

Dame Laura Cox’s report can be found here


Jean Sapeta


For advice on any issues arising contact


0203 137 4805

24 Nov 18

Government Publishes Information on State-Backed GP Indemnity Scheme

November 24, 2018

The Department of Health & Social Care has published a series of Q&As, setting out further information regarding the state-backed GP indemnity scheme due to be implemented in April 2019. The fine detail of the scheme has yet to be divulged, but the Q&As provide clarification on issues such as who will run and pay for the scheme, what it will cover and whether or not it will cover practice staff.

For access to the Q&As, click here.

02 Nov 18

Eastwoods Ranked in Chambers & Partners 2019

November 2, 2018

Following the news that we have been recommended in the Legal 500 for both Professional Discipline and Crime, Eastwoods is pleased to announce that we have also once again been ranked in Chambers & Partners 2019, as a leading firm in Professional Discipline.   Simon Eastwood, Adam Smith, Surjit Dubb and Stephen Hooper have all been recognised as leading individuals.

For the full listing, click here

30 Oct 18

Eastwoods Recognised in Legal 500 for Professional Discipline and Crime

October 30, 2018

Eastwoods is delighted to announce that we have once again been ranked by the Legal 500 as a leading firm in the field of Professional Discipline, with Simon Eastwood,  Adam SmithSurjit DubbStephen Hooper and Kate Williams all being highlighted as key individuals.  We are described as having “a well-established reputation as a specialist firm for disciplinary regulation”, testament to our years of experience and expertise in defending doctorsdentists and other professionals facing proceedings before their regulatory bodies.

Eastwoods has also been ranked for Crime (General), with the Legal 500 commenting that the team has “a wealth of expertise from representing people at police interviews, all the way through to Crown Court trials”, with Surjit Dubb and Adam Smith singled out as key individuals.

For the full listing, click here.