The judgement from the High Court to erase Dr Bawa-Garba from the medical register is disappointing and its implications will understandably be of great concern to the healthcare community.
One area of concern for doctors is the idea that reflections from Dr Bawa-Garba’s e-portfolio were used against her in the criminal trial in 2015.
Medical Protection represented Dr Bawa-Garba at the trial and we can confirm that the e-portfolio did not form part of the documentary evidence before the court and jury. The court was clear that reflections were irrelevant to the facts of the case and that no weight should be given to remarks documented after the event.
A doctor’s e-portfolio is a vital part of their professional development. It allows open and honest recording of reflections on incidents and is a crucial tool in bringing about a shift to an open, learning culture where lessons are learnt and there are continual improvements to patient care.
It would be extremely rare for a doctor to provide the contents of their e-portfolio for anything other than educational purposes and, in any event, information should be anonymised.
Having the contents of an e-portfolio used against a doctor in a legal case would be exceptional, but in the unlikely event that you are approached to provide the contents of your e-portfolio as part of an investigation or case, please seek advice from your team at Medical Protection.
If the GMC was investigating a doctor’s fitness to practise, they would not ask for a doctor’s reflective statements, but a doctor can choose to provide them if they demonstrate that they have shown insight. We understand that the GMC will be soon be publishing more detailed guidance on reflection.
Our advice on the use of e-portfolios is, and remains, that a doctor’s portfolio is a key part of their professional development. It is also important to bear in mind that not disclosing an incident or reflection during appraisal may lead to a greater risk of allegations of probity and referral to the GMC.