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GP's suspension by PCT 'unlawful'

A PCT's decision to suspend a GP was 'unfair', 'unlawful' and breached his human rights, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Collins condemned Waltham Forest PCT for its 'blatant disregard' of regulations in the way it treated Dr Zafar Malik, a singlehanded GP who had practised in Walthamstow since 1978.

The PCT suspended Dr Malik in January last year, the day after his QOF visit, citing that it had shown he 'posed a serious risk to patients'.

Mr Justice Collins said the PCT acted unlawfully as it never told Dr Malik of any allegations against him, nor gave him the chance to respond.

This breached both performers list regulations and Government guidance.

'I can only express surprise that a PCT should so blatantly disregard not only the clear terms of the regulations but also the guidance given by the Department of Health and act in such an unfair manner,' the judge said.

Serious flaws in subsequent hearings rendered them unfair and unlawful, he added.

Dr Malik told Pulse he believed Waltham Forest PCT had chosen to target singlehanded GPs and had 'tried to place hurdles in his path'.

He said: 'A QOF visit is to decide whether to allocate quality points. They said this visit was for the closure of the surgery.'

Dr Malik added: 'It has been a long, drawn-out struggle.'

The Medical Protection Society, which represented Dr Malik, called on the Government to review performers list rules as it had seen many cases where PCTs had failed to follow correct procedures in suspending GPs.

A Waltham Forest PCT spokeswoman said: 'Regrettably we got the procedures wrong when we suspended Dr Malik.' She said the trust could prove it did not have an anti-singlehander policy.

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