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
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.’