Medical Practitioner

Employment Law– Medical Practitioner Imposition of Conditions for Practice

 

The case of Abrahaem v General Medical Council [2008], involved a determination on the professional misconduct of a medical practitioner. The appellant in this case completed his medical training in Egypt and came to the United Kingdom in 1992. He was subsequently admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1994. He initially practised in the field of thoracic medicine, and he then moved on to practicing general medicine.

While he was working for an NHS hospital in 1999, the appellant acquired a number of forms for controlled medication and removed them from the hospital for his personal possession. He used three of the forms to obtain medication for his wife and children. He signed the forms with a false name and made them out to a false patient's name, also supplying a false address for the fictional patient.

The authorities were duly notified of this, which led to the appellant's premises being searched. The six remaining forms were found along with a large quantity of drugs in unsecured conditions.

The drugs that were found included 110 morphine sulphate capsules, 43 temazepam tablets, a quantity of dihyrodcodeine and a number of various other medicines, some of which were out of date.

The respondent's professional conduct committee found the appellant guilty of serious professional misconduct in September 2003. The imposed penalty was the appellant’s removal from the register.

Subsequently, he brought a challenge by way of judicial review and the court held the penalty to be disproportionately severe. The penalty was substituted with a sanction of one year's suspension. Furthermore, the Court of Appeal quashed a conviction for the possession of the drugs.

The appellant’s 12 months' suspension ended in January 2005. At this point, a fitness to practice panel reviewed the matter. It should be noted that no input from or communication with the appellant took place during this review.

The panel elected to continue the suspension for a further 12 months. It was then established that the appellant had moved to Saudi Arabia and had never even heard of the January 2005 hearing due to the fact that his arrangements for the forwarding of his UK mail had broken down.

When the appellant did eventually learn of the panel's decision, he initiated substantial correspondence with them. The panel then concluded that 14 conditions, aimed at addressing impairments in the appellants practice, should be imposed. The conditions included:

§   Informing the respondent of his return to the United Kingdom and any employment;

§   Confining his practice to supervised training within the NHS posts;

§   Restricting his locum activities; and

§   A ban on him possessing drugs.

The appellant appealed against this decision.

It was held that part of the appeal should be allowed. The court was of the opinion that on the facts of the case, the panel had been entitled to impose conditions on the appellant’s practice. However, it was held that some of the conditions went beyond the need to address the impairments that were found to be outstanding. For example, it was not clear how the restrictions on his future UK employment, by confining him to NHS hospitals, training posts and locum restrictions, were necessary and proportionate to any continuing impairment found.

The appeal was therefore allowed to the extent of removing certain conditions. The case was remitted for to a further panel so a final decision could be reached.

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© RT COOPERS, 2008. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

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