David Morris represented a GP doing weekend Out of Hours work. He had been accused of issuing a series of prescriptions for long term (2-4 months) supply of high value medications including insulin, asthma inhalers, Viagra and nutritional supplements in fictitious patient names.
The prescriptions had been dispensed many weeks after their prescription at pharmacies distant from the OOH centre but close to addresses used by the doctor.
The doctor’s defence was that he had been duped either by dishonest patient relatives/friends or by dishonest healthcare workers (district or care home nurses) who had taken advantage of his lack of knowledge of UK general and OOH practice. For a decade he had practised solely as a GP with British forces in Germany.
While the Panel thought that his oral evidence had been, at times, vague and evasive it was unable to identify any personal or financial motive. Further, it noted that the prescribed drugs were not typical of those often obtained fraudulently such as opiates, strong painkillers and benzodiazepines. It accepted that he had acted in good faith on the information provided to him by the patients’ representatives.
Having found that the doctor’s fitness to practise was not impaired, the Panel went on to reject the GMC’s submission that the doctor should receive a formal warning for poor record-keeping, which he had admitted in his evidence.
It accepted the defence submission that it would be wrong to issue a warning about matters which had not been formally alleged against the doctor and about which no findings of fact had been made.
In the circumstances the Panel agreed that it did not have the power to impose a warning about matters not included in the formal allegation. In so doing the Panel expressly rejected the contrary advice of the Legal Assessor.
David Morris was instructed by Christopher Briggs and Christian Carr of DAC Beachcroft and supported by the Medical Defence Union.