GP wins six-year legal battle, but loses practice
A GP who overcame a six-year battle to clear her name following an investigation into so-called ‘ghost’ patients has had her practice closed by NHS England.
Dr Lucia Gibson was given permission to start work again this month for the first time since September 2007 after being found not guilty of 37 criminal fraud charges and then passing a reassessment by the GMC of her medical abilities.
But NHS England Surrey and Sussex region, which took over the responsibilities of Surrey PCT, won a High Court battle to close her practice last month.
Dr Gibson was arrested in 2007 and investigated by the NHS Counter Fraud Service, now known as NHS Protection, into allegations of faked medical records and “ghost” patients at her practice in Walton-on-Thames health centre.
She was suspended by the PCT from practising as a GP in Surrey, struck off the PCT’s performers list and suspended by the GMC.
Dr Gibson said she spent £180,000 on legal fees and a GMC panel later admitted there had been a ‘manifest injustice’ in the way it had handled her case.
After a six year battle last month the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service gave her permission to return to work, on the condition she is supervised by another GP for three months.
A successful application has also seen her added to the performers list for Essex.
Dr Gibson said she would work unpaid as a GP in Essex. She said : ‘I don’t have anything left to lose I have already lost everything.’
She told Pulse she hoped that the ‘whole truth’ about her ordeal would emerge.
‘What I can’t believe is that two weeks after I lost my practice I am back on the performers list,’ she said.
Dr Gibson, who qualified in Nigeria, came to the UK in 1986 to work in obstetrics and gynaecology and became a GP in 1999. She began working at the Blue Practice in Walton Health Centre in 2003.
She was cleared of fraud at Kingston crown court in 2009 after a trial costing £1.5m.
A spokesman for NHS England (South) said: ‘Throughout this affair we have put patient safety and the need for absolute confidence in the ability of people working for the NHS at the centre of everything that we have done.”
He confirmed that Dr Gibson’s practice had now closed and that ‘patients have been supported in moving to other practices’.