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Tribunal clears GPs accused of attempting to conceal sedative prescriptions


GPs cleared of hiding sleep pill overprescribing


Two GPs have been cleared of attempting to conceal the amount of sedative pills they were prescribing to patients.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) yesterday (5 May) found no case to answer in response to accusations of dishonesty against GPs Dr Gabrielle McKeever and Dr Paul Flanigan.

In August 2016, a member of the now non-functioning Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), referred Dr McKeever and Dr Flanigan to the General Medical Council (GMC), alleging the pair were dishonest about their private prescriptions.

The HSCB was concerned about the amount of Z drugs and benzodiazepines that were being prescribed by Loy Medical Practice in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, between 2011 and 2015, where Dr McKeever and Dr Flanigan were partners.

Pre-hearing information said that both GPs ‘privately prescribed medication to a number of patients who were entitled to it on the NHS’. 

It was alleged they knew of the targets to reduce the prescription of these drugs on the NHS with financial incentives, and that the practice ‘received payments to which it was not entitled.’

The GMC claimed that during a meeting between HSCB officials and Loy Medical Practice in 2015, Dr Flanigan said the new prescribing targets had been met with ‘resistance from patients’.

The tribunal heard that there was no record of this meeting which could prove that Dr Flanigan had said this.

After applications made by lawyers representing the GPs, the MPTS found neither GP’s fitness to practise to be impaired.

In 2016, GPs practising under NHS contracts were advised not to offer private prescriptions alongside FP10s.

A 2017 study found that a quarter of a million patients may be prescribed benzodiazepines and Z-drugs for over 12 months by GPs, despite guidance that states they must be prescribed for no longer than four weeks.

Two GPs were suspended from the GMC register in 2019 for prescribing opioids online to multiple patients through an online pharmacy without appropriate safeguards in place.

Ministers have pledged to ‘take action’ on overprescribing after an official review concluded that 10% of medicines dispensed in primary care in England were not needed.

The GMC has proposed a number of amendments to its Good Medical Practice guide, including a commitment to consider which ‘context’ a doctor was working in if a complaint arises.

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READERS' COMMENTS [1]

David Church 9 May, 2022 5:37 pm

The Lawyers are just making it more confusing. There is no precedent for saying to it would be ‘wrongful’ to ‘deprive the NHS’ of the prescription charge, since the NHS is ‘free at the point of delivery’ anyway. It is illogical.
So they are saying that we CAN prescribe anti-malarials for holidays private, but NOT on an FP10 (except we can now print private ones on the RHS of the FP10!);
We MUST prescribe certain things on an FP10 if a patient asks us to, (like glucosamine and paracetamol), but are instructed to NOT issue an FP10 for these things; and so now they are saying we MUST NOT issue a private scritp for them, then how do we meet the obligation to prescribe ‘on the appropriate form’, EVERYTHING that is needed for a patient’s care?
But we can issue private prescriptions if we see overseas temporary residents, even for paracetamol or glucosamine.
And if we are to NOT issue a prescription to an elderly poor person for paracetamol, because it can be purchased OTC, then we MUST issue an FP10 for a younger person, BECAUSE they pay for prescriptions is just illogical and bizarre.
Who enforces that the younger person uses the prescription and pays the charge anyway? How do they know they do not just buy OTC? And if they do, have they defrauded the NHS,a dn must that patient then go to prison for fraud too?
Either the world is goibg mad or I am .