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GP 'back in hell' after referral to High Court

Another GP is facing a High Court battle to save his career after the new super-regulator ruled the GMC had been too lenient in not striking him off.

Dr Michael Leeper is the third GP to have his case referred by the Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals (CRHP) this year.

GPs said the decision put a further nail in the coffin of self-regulation and condemn-ed the CRHP for being too ready to appeal GMC decisions.

Dr Leeper was 'shocked and distressed' at the decision and said he had already had a job offer withdrawn as a result.

He told Pulse: 'I've been through hell and back and now I'm back in hell again.'

At a GMC hearing in February Dr Leeper admitted having an affair with a patient. He was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and ordered to work for two years under supervision.

As a result of the case, Dr Leeper was expelled by his former partners at the practice in Sudbury, Suffolk, last year and has not practised since.

Since his dismissal more than 1,000 residents and former patients have signed a petition to have him reinstated.

Dr Leeper said: 'The support has been wonderful. It has been a humbling experience.'

Jane Padfield, leader of the campaign group, said: 'He's a fantastic doctor who made a mistake and we need more GPs like him rather than getting rid of them.'

She said if the CRHP was successful she would seek legal advice on an appeal or the possibility of taking the case to the European courts.

GMC member Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP in Bolton, said the CRHP was compromising the independence of regulators. He added: 'We were given to understand that the CRHP would bring consistency but what we are seeing is the readiness with which any perception of undue leniency is open to appeal.'

All three cases involving GPs referred by the CRHP to the High Court involve affairs with patients.

In the case of Croydon GP Dr Olagbalekan Solanke, which was heard last month, the High Court rejected arguments his three-month suspension was too lenient.

A case involving Lancaster GP Dr Guiseppe Ruscillo is due to be heard later this year.

Health minister John Hutton had said the CRHP would only bring 'two or three cases a year'.

By Joe Lepper

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