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Privy Council rules one fatal error doesn't make a bad GP

A GP who made one negligent mistake in an otherwise unblemished 25-year career has won an appeal against a GMC ruling that he was guilty of serious professional misconduct.

In a rare verdict, the Privy Council ­ the highest court of appeal for doctors ­ ruled that a single negligent incident did not justify the GMC stigmatising Dr Narasinga Mukunda Rao.

The council overturned a GMC judgment that Dr Rao's registration should be conditional for 18 months and said he should only have been

reprimanded.

Dr Rao, a GP in Wrexham, north Wales, said: 'It has been a traumatic and difficult period for me, my family and patients. Nobody left my practice ­ without their support I would not have survived.'

Despite his belief that the GMC judgment was too harsh for a first-time offence, he was reluctant to appeal until the Medical Protection Society told him he had a strong case.

Dr Rao had admitted giving inadequate advice on the phone to the wife of a psychiatric patient whose lips and fingers had turned blue and who was breathing rapidly. Dr Rao reassured her the condition was not serious but her husband later died of respiratory depression and accidental drug overdose.

The GMC ruled last February that Dr Rao must have his performance and telephone triage technique assessed and work with a mentor.

The Privy Council said: 'There was undoubted negligence but something more was required to constitute serious professional misconduct and to attach the stigma of such a finding to a doctor of 25 years' standing with an hitherto unblemished career.'

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