Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED January 23, 2003

Erasure from the Medical Register coupled with immediate suspension was the only appropriate sanction for a doctor who was prepared to provide bogus medical reports to undercover journalists.Appeal by the appellant ('H') from the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee ('PCC') of the General Medical Council on 20 June 2002 that H was guilty of serious professional misconduct, directing that H's name be erased from the Medical Register. It also decided that it was necessary for the protection of members of the public that his registration be suspended immediately. The charges against H were as follows: (i) that having taken ?2,500 as a deposit on treatment from a patient's daughter, he failed to pay the consultant's invoices until after the proceedings had been referred for inquiry to the PCC, that he had failed to pay the invoice from the hospital and that he had failed to return the balance of the deposit to the daughter; and (ii) he had agreed to provide bogus medical reports to undercover journalists, one posing as an asylum seeker and another seeking a false medical report to assist him in obtaining increased damages in a road traffic accident claim. The PCC found that all the heads of charge had either been admitted or proved. On appeal H said that the allegations of dishonesty were untrue, that he had not harmed anybody and that nobody had benefited from what he had done. Furthermore, the sanction was too harsh given H's record of service to the profession.HELD: (1) There were no grounds for interfering with the PCC's decision to find H guilty of serious professional misconduct, which was supported by ample evidence or based on decisions as to the credibility of H and other witnesses. (2) Although H had been duped by the journalists, the essence of the complaint against him was that he was willing when approached to enter into transactions in his professional capacity that were profoundly dishonest and potentially very damaging. (3) The choice of sanction required to protect the public and maintain its trust and confidence in the medical profession was a matter that lay primarily within the province of the PCC. In this case the sanction of erasure was entirely justified. The gravity of H's conduct when he was approached by the journalists could not be over-emphasised. The relationship between the medical profession and those liable to be affected by such conduct was one of trust. The work of the immigration authorities and insurers in personal injury cases would be seriously impeded if investigations had to be conducted into the probity of all the medical reports that were put in front of them in each and every instance. H had been prepared to abuse that relationship for personal reward in the most cynical manner without any regard to the consequences. If public trust in the profession was to be maintained, conduct of this kind had to be rooted out wherever it was found. Erasure from the register coupled with immediate suspension was the only appropriate sanction in these circumstances.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] UKPC 5