David Morris successfully defends GP charged with serial prescription fraud

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.

David Morris saves GP from erasure and persuades MPTS to allow him to continue to practise with conditional registration

David Morris represented a high profile GP who had been chairman of his local Clinical Commissioning Group with responsibility for a multi-million pound budget.

The doctor faced numerous allegations of dishonesty including:

  • getting a receptionist to forge his GP partner’s signature on a life insurance application form;
  • witnessing the signature on the Will of an elderly hospital in-patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease and dementia when he knew that the patient may have lacked sufficient mental capacity;
  • failing to disclose his Out of Hours (OOH) work to the GMC and
  • failing to disclose his interim GMC suspension to the OOH employer.

The doctor was also charged with Deficient Professional Performance having done poorly in a GMC clinical assessment. He admitted this allegation.

The MPTS Panel only found one allegation of dishonesty proved: the life insurance forgery. While finding his witnessing of the Will ill-advised, the Panel was not satisfied that it was actually dishonest.

On the proved facts the GMC sought the doctor’s erasure from the Medical Register. Unusually for a case of dishonesty the Panel were persuaded that neither erasure nor suspension was necessary to maintain public confidence in the medical profession. They were satisfied that their finding of Impairment coupled with a substantial period (3 years) of conditional registration would send a clear message to the public and the profession as to the seriousness of his misconduct.

David Morris was instructed by Simon Kernyckyj and Amy Wilson of Radcliffes LeBrasseur and supported by Sarah Townley of the Medical Protection Society.

Anthony Haycroft defends dentist in GDC fitness to practise case

Anthony Haycroft has represented a General Dental Practitioner in a 7-day Professional Conduct Committee hearing covering substantial clinical failings in complex restorative dentistry in two different patients.

The failings ranged from inadequate treatment planning, assessment and diagnosis, incorrect use of radiographs, poor record-keeping, poor periodontal assessment and treatment and failure to obtain informed consent. Numerous failings were admitted and the remainder were effectively withdrawn after discussion between the experts.

The defence made clear from the outset that misconduct was accepted, but presented substantial remediation evidence to show no current impairment. The GDC sought then to argue for impairment on public interest grounds, however the defence’s counter-arguments were accepted and no impairment was found.

Anthony Haycroft was instructed by Deepika Raino of RadcliffesLeBrasseur and supported by John Kocierz of Dental Protection.

Bridget Dolan represents brain damaged patient in withdrawal of treatment case

Bridget Dolan represented the patient (through the Official Solicitor) in this medically and ethically complex case concerning an application to withdraw treatment from a man in a minimally conscious state.

Mr Justice Newton accepted Bridget’s arguments that when assessing the value of life from the particular perspective of this patient, there was strong evidence from the accounts of his family and based on his religious beliefs, that any life, no matter how profoundly disabled, would be considered by him to be of significant value.

The judge found that life-preserving treatment was neither futile nor burdensome and that, despite his profound brain injury, his present life was one P would find worthwhile, even though many others would not adopt the same position.

The treatment has therefore been continued.