Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery

Are we adequate advocates for our nursing colleagues? by Daniel Gooding

Jack Adcock was a 6 year old boy who sadly died on 18th February 2011. From what I have read, Jack, who had Down syndrome, was admitted due to sickness and diarrhoea. Later that evening he went into cardiac arrest due to sepsis. At the time of the arrest, there was a tragic mistake when a do not resuscitate order was mistakenly understood to have been in place for Jack, it was in fact for another child. To what I understand, Dr Bawa-Garba, was the doctor and the nurse who was prosecuted, Isabel Amaro, an agency nurse who had gone home after her shift had ended, both were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. I also feel like it is important to remember the mitigating circumstances;

  • The lack of safe staffing.
  • The fact that Isobel was an adult trained nurse who was moved to paediatrics.
  • Dr Bawa-Garba was back on her first shift post maternity leave.

So why am I telling you this?

Through out the trial, after the verdict and up until the appeal date, doctors have rallied around Dr Bawa-Garba on social media, highlighting the dangerous and desperate situation of the ward she was working on. Initially, the medical practitioners tribunal decided she should be allowed to continue her training and practise again as a doctor after a one-year suspension. But the doctors’ regulatory body, the GMC, appealed against the decision, saying she should be struck off the medical register. The high court ruled in the GMC’s favour in January but in August, the court of appeal has overturned the GMC ruling.

It is interesting to note the press interest, which has been exclusively in the doctor. There is an unwritten assumption that losing your career in medicine is a tragedy but losing your career in nursing is a minor inconvenience.

Looking on social media, I believe that almost every doctor knows who Bawa-Garba is. How many have heard of Isabel Amaro? What about Isabel Amaro, the nurse?

I believe this case raises questions about the lack of response and fund-raising by nurses. Obviously, I don’t know anyone who has seen the evidence so it cannot be said if what happened was entirely due to the conditions or whether she was negligent. The medics started by crowd sourcing funds to employ a barrister to review the evidence so when they started tweeting they knew their case. Where was the nursing response?

Amaro was on the CAU and it is stated that she did not keep a fluid balance chart when Jack had a fluid challenge nor did she complete vital signs. It is said she didn’t do a BP at all whilst he was on CAU. Although NICE do not include blood pressure in their Sepsis Risk Stratification tool. She was not on the ward where he arrested so that is immaterial to the case against her.

Why has there been no statements of support from large groups of nurses? No offers of funding to allow her to appeal her striking off order? No press interest?

Are we adequate advocates for our colleagues? Why do we as nurses not stick up for our own like other professions do? Have we as nurses left one of our own out to dry? Is nursing really as hostile as this seems from the corner of my room right now? Do we feel empowered and enabled by our regulators, unions and employers, to stand up for our nursing colleagues? Where is the support for our fellow nurses?

It has been suggested to me that there is a wider issue around NMC. Apparently, whilst the RCN represents all members at FtP, and covers costs, the general consists from nurses I have spoken too has been that there has been a lack at FtP representation and unlike doctors, nurses can rarely afford their own legal team. A case in point is the nurse who was cautioned for not calling 999 to a yellow, waxy and pale patient where rigor mortis has set it. The Resus Council agreed NMC were wrong on that.

You, as a reader, do not have to answer these questions of course, its just something I hope you think about, and reflect on. We are looking for ways to change the way nursing is viewed by society, and yet we seem to have a problem with standing up for each other. The reason I am calling out the nursing profession for its attitudes towards each other is because we can be better than this. We are better than this.

I think, overall, questions should be raised here about the blame culture we find ourselves in. We must all remember how much gaps in Rotas and a lack of safe staffing puts those we care for at risk. Scapegoating does not solve the problem. And we should not forget the saddest part of this tragedy was the avoided death of a young boy. As AvMA Chief Exectuive, Peter Walsh said, “Avoiding such tragedies in the future requires investment of resources as well as a change in culture.” I ask you to think about this question, one more time, Are we adequate advocates for our colleagues?

In the light of the High Court judgement yesterday, I am calling for a review of Amaro’s case although I understand the important to keep an open mind until the evidence has been seen.

Yours in Nursing,


What inspired you to write this blog?

The Transforming Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery 30 Day Challenge

What is your role?

Third Year CYP Nursing Student -  Leader - Nursing Activist - RCN SIO of the Year 2018


What are your nursing and/or midwifery qualifications?

Third Year CYP Nursing Student


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