Trainee GP who falsified timesheet is suspended for four months after GMC intervened

Authors: Clare Dyer 

Publication date:  27 Feb 2018


A trainee GP who falsified a timesheet after providing weekend senior house officer cover at a hospital has been suspended from the UK medical register for four months after a successful appeal by the General Medical Council.

Despite finding that his actions were dishonest, a medical practitioners tribunal decided in January 2017 that Iheanyi Nwachuku’s fitness to practise was not impaired and let him off with a warning.

But the GMC appealed and in August 2017 a High Court judge substituted a finding that his fitness to practise was impaired.[1] Mrs Justice O’Farrell sent the case back to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service for a decision on the appropriate sanction.

Nwachuku was in his final year of GP training at Southampton in October 2015 when he agreed to provide senior house officer (SHO) cover for three weekend nights, including Sunday night from 8 pm till 8 am, at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in north west London. He was allowed to undertake extra duties outside his training contract but only with the permission of his supervisor, which he failed to obtain.

He was required to be in Southampton for the start of a GP session at 8 30 on Monday morning. He tried to leave the hospital in London at 5 am but was stopped by a registrar, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to stay. He left around 6 am, leaving the hospital without SHO cover, and claimed on the timesheet to have worked till 8 30 am.

Nick Flanagan, who chaired the new tribunal, said Nwachuku had accepted work he knew he could not complete, had handed in a timesheet he knew was incorrect, and did not respond appropriately to concerns raised by the registrar before leaving, which led him to leave patients unattended.

But the tribunal was impressed by his oral evidence, the courses he had attended, the reflective learning he had completed, the testimonials received, and the oral evidence of his educational supervisor, his mentor, and a specialist registrar in paediatric surgery.

Four months would mark the gravity of his conduct and serve as a message to the public and profession, Flanagan added. But the tribunal also recognised the steps Nwachuku had already taken, and the fact that the incident was an isolated one with a low risk of repetition.

References

  1. Dyer C. Trainee GP who was warned over falsifying timesheets to get new sanction after GMC appeal. BMJ  2017;358:j3864. [Link]    [Link] .

Clare Dyer The BMJ

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