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£40k spent on case suspending GP for dishonesty over ‘promise’ of laptop

£40k spent on case suspending GP for dishonesty after saying laptop was ‘promised’

The case against a GP who was suspended for dishonesty after saying she had been ‘promised’ a laptop cost almost £40,000, an FOI has revealed.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act has shown that approximately £39,288 was spent by the GMC and Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) on the case – not including the costs incurred by Dr Manjula Arora.

The MPTS had suspended Dr Arora for a month for ‘dishonesty’ after she told an IT department she had been ‘promised’ a laptop.

The GMC effectively overturned the ruling on Monday, and said the dishonesty test was ‘incorrectly’ applied.

The case centred around Dr Arora telling the IT department at Mastercall that she had been ‘promised’ a laptop. However, the MPTS found that she had been told by the medical director and former CEO of Mastercall that ‘we don’t have any laptops at present, but I will note your interest when the next roll out happens’.

Breakdown of the costs

GMC’s legal fees: £8,880

MPT hearing cost: £22,104

GMC allocated fixed costs to the hearing: £8,304

 

Total: £39,288

The MPTS concluded that Dr Arora had therefore been ‘dishonest’ and that while she had not set out to mislead the IT department, she had ‘exaggerated the position in her use of one inappropriate word’ – ie, ‘promised’. It said that as a result, her fitness to practise was impaired and suspended her for one month.

The GMC representative on the case also went as far to say that she had ‘brought the medical profession into disrepute’ and that her ‘integrity could not be relied upon’.

This decision by the MPTS was attacked by a number of doctors groups, including the BMA, the RCGP, Doctors Association UK, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the British Indian Doctors Association.

In its FOI response, the GMC said: ‘We are unable to provide total figures for how much money was spent on this matter. 

‘One of the principal reasons for this is that neither MPTS nor GMC staff log the amount of time they spend on individual cases in the way solicitors would do and this accounts for a significant proportion of spending on cases.’

The GMC spokesperson added: ‘However, I can disclose that the GMC’s legal fees were £8,880, including VAT.’

They said that the levels of external counsel’s fees incurred by the GMC are ‘in line with’ those incurred by other parties, such as medical defence organisations acting on behalf of doctors in similar proceedings. 

The GMC’s use of its in-house legal team to conduct proceedings ‘ensures that external legal fees incurred in the conduct of these proceedings is minimised’, the regulator said.

The GMC said: ‘We are unable to provide specific figures for the cost of the MPTS hearing. However, based on an estimated average cost per day based on the 2022 budget, we estimate that the hearing cost £22,104 for eight days. 

‘This includes tribunal member fees and expenses, transcription costs and catering as well as MPTS operations staffing and administrative expenses.’

It added: ‘We have also allocated £8,304 in fixed costs to the hearing.’

READERS' COMMENTS [20]

Katharine Morrison 1 July, 2022 1:37 pm

We are paying for this case and others via our GMC compulsory subscriptions and via our medical defence union subscriptions. The GMC is running a charity to pay lawyers for prosecuting silly cases and for defending them.

Bonglim Bong 1 July, 2022 1:38 pm

That is the retention fee of 100 doctors (with a licence) spent on this witch hunt.

Slow hand clap for the GMC.

SUBHASH BHATT 1 July, 2022 1:39 pm

Gmc need to compensate dr aurora all legal fee, loss of earning , compensate for stress .
Should also find out who decided to report such trivial matter and who accepted the case .and why?

Arun Sinha 1 July, 2022 1:54 pm

I refuse to pay for this both as a taxpayer and as a fellow doctor. If people wish to be stupid, arrogant, spiteful or simply foolish, best of luck to them as long as they bear the expenses of their escapades from their own pockets and not rob me. I have more important and genuine things to pay for, like my heating bills. If a bunch of people decided it was important to ruin a GP’s life and career over a laptop after the same GP put her own life at risk especially in last couple of years saving others, same people banging metal plates during pandemic for NHS so that we can keep fighting against a killer disease, I would expect firstly the boss of this particular company brought to book and taught how to behave with doctors, next everyone who kept promoting the issue, actively or passively, should be sacked and fined. When doctors make wrong decisions, they pay a very heavy price and face dire consequences- would like same to happen to everyone else as well – there should be no discrimination- caste, creed, sex and profession !!

Vinci Ho 1 July, 2022 3:02 pm

You see , my English is not that good (GMC might want to fitness test me 🤨😈)
How do you spell the word meaning shockingly unacceptable?😳

David jenkins 1 July, 2022 4:05 pm

never mind the £40000, which is, after all, not “real money” – i.e. it comes out of the pocket of that mythical beast, the taxpayer.

what about the loss of income of, and reputational damage to, a real live person ?

and do you really think the GMC has learnt anything ? it didn’t after bawa garba !

Dr N 1 July, 2022 4:23 pm

Ironically that would have paid for 40+ laptops

The system is stupid.

Gabor Szekely 1 July, 2022 4:28 pm

What an incredible waste of doctors’ money. All the more reason for them to withhold the GMC subscription fees.

Patrufini Duffy 1 July, 2022 5:30 pm

The GMC hierarchy are (in)mates with the legal profession.
It is a dirty business. Pays the bills – very comfortably, you know, drawing out proceedings for months and years.
The hypothetical bullet points and a booklet of Good Medical Practice that they burn you by, is a paradoxical hypocritical stain, whereby the complete reverse is applicable to the true players of dishonesty, and corruption. Not long perhaps until they end up on a national Panorama programme. There are plenty of historical stories ready to be dished out.
A stain.

Arun Sinha 1 July, 2022 6:23 pm

Reading other news today, I felt shocked that I wasn’t at all affected by ” Tory MP suspended after drunken groping allegations”, I just read it and went past as if it was daily horoscope or something. Then I realised, we have got used to reading/hearing so much about other professions doing all kind of manic things almost on a daily basis and the world goes on. But if a doctor even dares to sneeze, the same world comes down with a heavy hand to name and shame them, try and wipe them off the face of earth, lead by the very institutions that are supposed to support and protect them. Why are only us condemned to be at the epitome of morality and ethics to absurd heights ? Could she persue a claim for damages – irreperable damage to reputation etc etc – perhaps £60 Million might be a reasonable figure to seek so that it goes down as a deterrant for spiteful and arrogant claims against doctors in future. She could perhaps donate some of the compensation monies to BAPIO, DAUK and Pulse who genuinely support the profession.

Patrufini Duffy 1 July, 2022 9:32 pm

Shouldn’t you now spend 40K and counter sue Dr B from Mastercall? How the hell did they get away with that, surely they’re the one with malicious intent and an agenda.

Who is Dr B?????

Doron Boone 2 July, 2022 2:57 pm

I’ve decided against asking Mastercall if they have any vacancies.
Please tell me GMC: How does a confidential issue bring the profession into disrepute? This excuse for taking punitive action against doctors is used repeatedly by the GMC for misdemeanours which are not in the public domain.

John Glasspool 2 July, 2022 7:41 pm

GMC is a nasty rabidly anti-doctor cabal. Lower than vermin.

Laurie Jacobs 3 July, 2022 12:24 am

The 40K was a ridiculous waste of money. However, that case was a drop in the ocean compared to the Dr Richard Freeman GMC Tribunal- remember the cycling Testosterone sachet- racked up a grand total of £477,000 (Freedom of Information details received from the GMC) -a mind bending sum of money !

S. Ali 3 July, 2022 9:37 am

The GMC have not overturned this. They can by law but have refused to act. What the GMC have done is not challenge the appeal so they do not need to pay costs plus more importantly: the false action taken to prevent the reputation, which was only in the public domain by GMC tactic of perversion of process after a protection only investigation, will not become a legal finding that other doctors can use.

I would remind some of those reading, the 40k is about half of spending. No taxpayer money has been used as these are prosecutions by a private company that is the UK’s most unreal charity, that is funded by investments and mandatory subscriptions by uk doctors

Mark Essop 3 July, 2022 8:34 pm

Could have bought a lot of laptops with 40K.

Patrufini Duffy 4 July, 2022 3:56 pm

Until 20 July

https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/good-medical-practice-review/take-part-in-the-consultation

Take part. They’d really LOVE YOU to.
Full of heart.
Full of…

Long Gone 5 July, 2022 10:29 am

Sadly typical of the blame culture that stifles progress in healthcare. All you have to do is read Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.
I demand a rigorous root cause analysis of why the GMC made a mistake here. With reflection and correction. We are mistaken too if we leap to blame individuals in this embarrassing fiasco. We need to learn lessons and correct.
This speaks volumes about why patient care is suffering due to poor recruitment, retention and morale.
How many CQC judgements, GMC investigations and media vilifications does it take to kill one patient? What is that Number Needed to Harm? Has anyone even considered doing that type of analysis?
I doubt it.

David jenkins 5 July, 2022 12:18 pm

Patrufini Duffy

i’ve read it ! i can’t find anywhere the bit that says “it’s all anonymous”. maybe it IS in there somewhere, but buried in all the blurb !

do not touch this “survey” with someone else’s bargepole. you can be certain those running it will find out who you are, and you will be marked !

just because i’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me !

Long Gone 5 July, 2022 12:53 pm

David Jenkins
Spot on. That’s exactly why we can’t trust any opinion sampling conducted by bodies with an agenda to “regulate” the profession out of effectiveness.
The level of mis-trust of the GMC just got jacked up another several notches.
How on earth did we do this to ourselves??