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GP suspended for ‘dishonesty’ after saying she had been ‘promised’ laptop

GP suspended for wrongly saying she’d been ‘promised’ laptop

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service has suspended a GP for a month for ‘dishonesty’ after telling an IT department she had been ‘promised’ a laptop.

The tribunal suspended Manchester GP Dr Manjula Arora because she told the IT department at Mastercall Healthcare, the GP out-of-hours provider where she worked, that she had been promised a laptop.

But the tribunal said that she had ‘exaggerated’ these claims, and as a result found that her fitness to practise was impaired.

However, doctors groups have reacted angrily to the judgement, saying that a suspension was disproportionate for a relatively minor offence.

The incident happened in December 2019, when Dr Arora told the IT department that the medical director and former CEO of Mastercall – referred to as ‘Dr B’ – had ‘promised’ her a laptop when they became available.

However, the tribunal heard that the email from Dr B said: ‘We don’t have any laptops at present, but I will note your interest when the next roll out happens.’

The Tribunal found that when Dr Arora told ‘Mr C’ (the digital services manager at Mastercall) she had been ‘promised’ a laptop, ‘she knew that Dr B had made no such promise, even if she interpreted his email generally as being a positive response to her request for a laptop’.

The MPTS documents said: ‘The Tribunal, again, concluded that Dr Arora had not set out to be dishonest, and that she had not set out to mislead Mr C. Rather, she had exaggerated the position in her use of one inappropriate word. 

‘Nevertheless, it determined that, in the specific use of that one word, on that one occasion, she had been dishonest.’

The GMC representative, Mr Carl Hargan, said that Dr Arora had ‘brought the medical profession into disrepute’, ‘breached a fundamental tenet of the profession’, and that ‘her integrity could not be relied upon’.

Dr Arora’s representative, Mr Alan Jenkins, said that for the GMC, ‘dishonesty is an “all or nothing’ matter”, and suggested that this approach was not always appropriate’.

The MPTS documents said that both representatives and the Tribunal agreed that Dr Arora ‘had not caused any risk to patients’. 

However, the MPTS said: ‘Dishonesty, whether or not in the context of a single exaggeration, does, in the Tribunal’s view, bring the medical profession into disrepute.’

The Tribunal concluded that Dr Arora’s fitness to practise was ‘impaired by reason of her misconduct’.

It was decided that a one-month suspension ‘represented an appropriate balance between upholding the overarching objective and providing an opportunity for Dr Arora to return to practice, recognising that her misconduct was momentary and out of character’.

Professor Sam Shah, a former national SRO for digital urgent and emergency care and NHSE regional clinical director for urgent care, told Pulse: ‘This case reflects an oppressive and punitive culture in the NHS driven by top down targets in an underfunded and poorly designed system.’

He said: ‘Remote working to get the best out of the workforce was encouraged for the last two years and allegedly championed in urgent care.’

He added it is ‘disappointing’ that ‘this case turns on a laptop’.

BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta told Pulse: ‘It is not just a travesty of justice or a waste of time and energy of the GMC, but much worse is the demoralising impact on the doctors and wider medical professionals.

‘We have known that some of the GMC representatives are bent on punishing doctors whatever the facts of the case.

‘We have raised this issue with the GMC.’

BIDA national president Dr Chandra Kanneganti told Pulse: ‘This is an exaggerated response, just because of wording used to obtain a laptop for work purposes and more importantly the unsafe nature of workloads the doctors and most GPs have to face most days.

‘BIDA will fully support Dr Arora if she is planning to appeal this disproportionate response.’

He added: ‘Having read the judgement, maybe the bigger question to be asked particularly of overseas qualified docs is, “Have you ever been threatened by a referral to the GMC by your employer in a situation where you have declined to do something because you felt it was unsafe?” Is this threat used as a way of intimidating doctors, who might believe they would not get a fair hearing?’

Doctors Association chair Dr Jenny Vaughan said on Twitter: ‘We are shocked and saddened @TheDA_UK that this case ever got to #MPTS tribunal and was referred to @gmcuk.’

‘Why has one individual been singled out here?’ Dr Vaughan asked, and ‘Why not local resolution?’

The news comes as GMC chair Charlie Massey said earlier this month that the current ‘rethink’ of doctor regulation will make the GMC process ‘less adversarial’ in future.

Last month, the regulator also 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.

And an indemnity organisation revealed that more than a quarter of overseas GPs lack legal representation at fitness-to-practise hearings, and are more likely to face ‘harsher sanctions’ as a result.

READERS' COMMENTS [44]

Douglas Callow 23 May, 2022 4:45 pm

bizarre

Akeem Ajenifuja 23 May, 2022 4:50 pm

The Big bad wolf!!!!!

Gerald Clancy 23 May, 2022 4:53 pm

Sounds like a drastic way for the CCG to justify what sounds like an inadequate supply of work-related hardware. Future requesters be warned that any request for hardware upgrades or broadband speed improvements will be viewed as an act of hostility.

Patrufini Duffy 23 May, 2022 5:17 pm

Pass me a sick bowl.
Next: “GP suspended for breathing”.
Then: “GP suspended for having an emotion”.

Reply moderated
Karl Jones 23 May, 2022 5:41 pm

I’m not sure that these tribunals can be trusted to be fair or unbiased. It is my understanding that the panels often comprise a majority of non-medical personnel, but are asked to assess medical competence, probity etc.. This is not a jury of peers.
I’m not surprised by the attitude of the GMC representative. The GMC has not performed convincingly of late.

Karl Jones 23 May, 2022 5:43 pm

And who the hell reported her?

Darren Tymens 23 May, 2022 5:56 pm

If that is really all there is to the story, then the GMC response is draconian in the extreme.
What a waste of time and money.
What enormous stress a doctor has been put under for no great purpose.
The GMC only tarnishes its own reputation, and its credibility as a regulator, with such decisions.
And what about other parts of the public and private world? Does anyone else get held to the same standards of probity? What about our party-animal politicians, for example?

Bonglim Bong 23 May, 2022 6:09 pm

@Karl Jones – it was the clinical director of Mastercall – the Stockport based GP company.
A quick google search will give you a name.

I’m not sure there would be any clinicians left if every doctor, nurse and allied health professional was treated in this way.

Antony Thomas 23 May, 2022 6:36 pm

Shame on you GMC.

Nicholas Sharvill 23 May, 2022 6:53 pm

Is Pulse reporting accurate and full?
This seems bizarre even within the GMC/NHS system of prioritising everything except patient care.

Richard Greenway 23 May, 2022 7:08 pm

Suspended for wanting to have a laptop for work purposes?
What next.

Darren Tymens 23 May, 2022 7:11 pm

ten years ago, on a long trip, my daughter woke up and asked ‘are we nearly there yet?’, to which I replied ‘yes’ – even though I knew we had another hour to travel. I’m now wondering if I should report myself to the GMC.

Darren Tymens 23 May, 2022 7:12 pm

when my daughter was very little. she asked me ‘are you scared of anything daddy?’ to which I replied ‘no, darling.’ This wasn’t fully accurate – clowns make me nervous. I’m wondering if I should report myself to the GMC.

Darren Tymens 23 May, 2022 7:17 pm

my partner once cooked me a meal, and asked if I liked it. I said ‘yes, it’s very nice’ even though it was a little spicy for my taste. I’m wondering if I should report myself to the GMC.

Michael Mullineux 23 May, 2022 8:32 pm

Suspended for ‘dishonesty’ for a tone if phrase? Staggering if true. Take your skills elsewhere Dr Arora. And turn your back on this wanton egregious parasitic system that treats it’s workers with such callous disregard. Over a laptop ffs …

Adam Crowther 23 May, 2022 8:48 pm

Surely a parking ticket or speeding fine is worse than this? Both of which will not have you sat in front of the tribunal service as far as I am aware?

Slobber Dog 23 May, 2022 9:13 pm

Remember the company name.

Doc Getmeout 23 May, 2022 9:53 pm

GMC >>> an organisation with a Narcissistic personality disorder

paul cundy 23 May, 2022 10:12 pm

Dear All,
May I suggest that if any party is bringing the profession into dispute it is not Dr Arora. The GMC’s actions are plain and simple bullying. If they had learned from the Dr BG case they would have come to a very different decision. Shame on them all.
Regards
Dr Paul Cundy
GMC 2582641

David jenkins 24 May, 2022 12:56 am

two words that should blurt from your mouth if the letters GMC are uttered in that order:

bawa garba.

i would strongly suggest that any doctor working for the organisation who initiated this should ask him/herself if they have ever transgressed “the truth” like this. if they have, then they should simply not apply for any more shifts with this outfit.

perhaps if the profession collectively declined to work for them, the penny would drop, and if faced with a catastrophic staff shortage, they would mend their ways.

while locumming the other day, i forgot my biro. rather than go 10 miles home to get one, one of the receptionists gave (sorry – lent, because it probably wasn’t hers to “give”) me one. i inadvertently walked off with it in my pocket. should i report myself before someone else does ?!

David Church 24 May, 2022 8:01 am

My first language is English, although I know more or less of a few others.
The line quoted from the email clearly promisses her a laptop!
It says she can have one when they are next available.
It is essential for her work.
This MUST be overturned, and I suggest involvement of a Union with strike action on a matter of principal.
MPTS clearly do not understand plain English (although the email could have been plainer rather than use silly complicated words inapropriately, like ‘rollout’ – laptops do NOT roll, I just tried it.)
But then MPTS also believes in time travel and that an action in 2013 can cause a fraudulent stream of behaviours in 2009-2012 ! MPTS is mad and must go.
This case has brought them into disrepute.

Vinci Ho 24 May, 2022 8:20 am

Right, I have deliberately waited and read all your comments(above) before writing this :
(1) All your comments are exactly what I have been expecting and I am grateful for your contributions . That is simply because the words used in MPTS judgement in this case were indeed extraordinary and arguably ‘exaggerated’ (instead of the other way round ) by the private company and the MPTS .
Undoubtedly , understandably and unequivocally, our sensitivity towards over-regulation or even miscarriage of justice(under the jurisdiction of GMC) is heightened after the case of Dr BG .
(2) Nevertheless, I would like to take one step backwards first to understand more about the details of this story and its background circumstances. Jaimie , editor of Pulse ,please elaborate and follow up more on this case . Otherwise , at least one of our media enemies could easily rebuke that Pulse is not different from other tabloid papers and social media , making a big fuss out of a storm in a teacup . ‘’The doctor , for god’s sake ,was only suspended for a month .’’
(3)That is , however , exactly where this tale becomes more interesting , needing further examination of the full transcripts from all sides : the private company, MPTS and defence representation for Dr Arora . I am arguing under one key virtue of Common Law(UK) and Rule of Law : presumed innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt (in contrast to rule by law where the prosecution does not need to find evidence to prove the defendant guilty as the latter has to prove oneself innocent instead ; please correct me if I am wrong on this ). Nevertheless, MPTS is not a legal institution and can claim the rules are ‘exceptionally’ applied to medical doctors under their jurisdiction(read my references at the bottom ). I personally think there is a potential for judicial review (JR) in here but , of course , I would be concerned if it causes further burden on the defendant for a longer torturous legal process.
(4)‘Dishonesty ’ and ‘bring the medical profession into disrepute’ are really serious labels in legal terms . Yet the penalty was only one month suspension because fitness to practise was ‘impaired by reason of her misconduct’ . Does that mean our honourable prime minister , already been fined with a fixed penalty breaking the lockdown rules and currently investigated for ‘ misleading the parliament’ , will be suspended for one month( well , I would be more generous and give him a 3 months ‘holiday’ !) for fitness to lead our country being impaired Coming back to this case , it begs the question , ‘ Are GMC expecting Dr Arora to restore all these moral standard to become fit again to practise after one month ?’
Furthermore, the word ‘Promised ‘ was also interesting. According to what we read so far , I presume that this was word being insisted by Dr Arora ( that is why we really need more details of this fascinating story ). This word could easily be the result of poor communication skill under certain unhealthy circumstance(s), for instance. Should the benefit of any reasonable doubt go to the defendant ? (in dubio pro reo)
(5) GMC was making statements implying that their approach was to be changed in judging doctors’ fitness to practise after the case of Dr BG . With the knowledge we read from this article, it appears GMC’s new approach is even more draconian reinforcing our strong belief that our profession is unfairly over-regulated especially in BAME medical professionals.

Finally , for noting and recalling recent history:
* MPTS is in fact ‘an independent body of the GMC ‘
* They make independent decisions about a doctor’s fitness to practise. This includes imposing sanctions for decisions about violations of ethical principle.
* In March 2015, changes to the Medical Act mean that the GMC gained the ability to appeal against decisions made by the MPTS.
* In 2014 legislation was introduced the GMC gained powers around demanding proof of competence in English from doctors coming from within the EU.[12] In October of the following year, the first doctors from the EU were disciplined following inadequate performances in tests that the MTPS itself had requested.
( reference taken from Wikipedia in the article on Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service)
My ‘ignorant’ question is , ‘Are GMC and MPTS fit to practise under the name of Themis ?’

Vinci Ho
GMC no : 3483114

kathryn Moore 24 May, 2022 8:52 am

“But the tribunal said that she had ‘exaggerated’ these claims, and as a result found that her fitness to practise was impaired.”
Wondering how exaggerating causes impairment of fitness to practise???

Kevlar Cardie 24 May, 2022 9:57 am

C. Massey’s expenses.

Maneshveri Pather 24 May, 2022 10:32 am

What is more disturbing about this case is that 2 of the 3 tribunal members are doctors!

MULAYIL KRISHNAN Gopinath 24 May, 2022 10:44 am

Vince Ho hats of to you. The time and effort put in to write that piece deserves to be appreciated !!

Ash Bakhat 24 May, 2022 10:50 am

Mastercall- the same company have a penchant for referring tdoctors to the GMC. They referred me a number of years ago as an act of spite so beware

Hugo Hammersley 24 May, 2022 11:36 am

I have read through the MTPS report – which for those who are interested can be downloaded at:

https://www.mpts-uk.org/hearings-and-decisions/medical-practitioners-tribunals/mrs-manjula-arora-may-22

The case is not as simple as it would appear from the article in Pulse as there was also an allegation that Dr Arora briefly stopped or suspended the Clinical Assessment Service, she was working for in 2019, because it was overloaded with patients. Counsel for the GMC claimed that this was inappropriate and akin to a junior doctor in A&E locking the casualty department doors because there were too many patients. This allegation was found NOT to have been proven. Unfortunately the MTPS then went onto consider the matter of the laptop computer and made a bizarre finding of dishonesty and suspended her registration for a month.
What seems to be missing from this whole account is any consideration of why Dr Arora was requesting that her employer should provide her with a laptop computer, in the first place, and whether she was justified in her expectation that this should be provided. It seems from the MTPS report that her boss had “noted her interest” in receiving a laptop and indicated that “as technology was advancing” she might be able to use her own computer at some point, but that he had never “promised her” a laptop. Dr Arora, on the other hand, appears to have assumed her boss’ pronouncements had indicated that he would at some point provide her with a computer. What is astonishing here is that the GMC and the MTPS should be in effect questioning the need of a front-line clinician to be provided with a computer, in the first place. In my view, it is inconceivable that any doctor working in today’s NHS should be denied the provision of an appropriately configured IT device (whether it be a laptop or desktop computer) together with the appropriate training to enable them to use it. I don’t know of a single doctor working in primary care who doesn’t use one. Moreover, nobody would expect NHS surgeons to provide their own instruments or operating theatre, so why on earth shouldn’t a GP working in an NHS commissioned Clinical Assessment Service be provided with an appropriate computer to enable them to work. Furthermore, it is widely accepted within private and public industry that “work” laptops should not be for private or personal use because of security issues and therefore need to be separate machines provided by employers. It is a shabby indictment of this Clinical Assessment Service that they should be so mean and unhelpful as to fail to provide Dr Aurora with a computer and indeed indicate that she might need to provide her own device. What kind of a service are they operating? The GMC and MTPS system should be ashamed of themselves that they haven’t properly considered the context of Dr Aurora’s request for essential equipment in their deliberations. The year is 2022 and not 1922.
We all know that front line GPs are in short enough supply and that the clinical services are vastly overloaded. For goodness’ sake let’s make sure the few remaining doctors working in primary care are provided with the essential equipment they need to do their jobs and let’s not beat them up when they make reasonable requests for computers! Wake up Mr Massey and the GMC, you have got it badly wrong with this one!

Vinci Ho 24 May, 2022 12:35 pm

Thank you Hugo, very interesting
Please keep sending in your comments

There are a lot of questions need to be asked in here , especially from a medico-legal point of view .
As I wrote above , if by any chance there is a JR( but I am more concerned of the stress level and mental health of the defendant already been exposed to ), these questions are indicative.

Dermot Ryan 24 May, 2022 12:45 pm

….and they wonder why people are leaving the profession. What a shower of wankers.

Simon Gilbert 24 May, 2022 1:18 pm

Jeremy Hunt ‘promised’ 5000 more GPs.
Presumably if we use language in the same way our honorable politicians use it that is not good enough for the GMC!

Turn out The Lights 24 May, 2022 1:37 pm

Leopards never change their spots.GMC,MPTS whoever.Charlie Massey still has not done the honourable thing with the Dr BG case,this show no change.They will not stop us leaving as they fritter away the workforce on their power trips.

Iain Chalmers 24 May, 2022 2:58 pm

Agree seems draconian in the extreme. Worse still for Dr A it’s going to be visible in her on-line GMC page. Any patients who wish to complain can thus add: she must be bad as she was suspended once.

No “right to forget” for issues, one nice patient dredged it up for me in a complaint 10 years after the event & with no relevant knowledge of context.

End of year can’t come soon enough

Emma Campbell 24 May, 2022 4:39 pm

I was thinking of applying to Mastercall for a few shifts but not going to bother now.

Mahilchi sudar Vaseekar kumar 24 May, 2022 10:33 pm

Apparently, the company claims to be using cutting-edge technology.
https://www.cio.com/article/100000887/qa-mastercall-healthcare-cio-jonathan-ritchie-on-saving-lives-through-digital-innovation.htmlaims to be saving lives through digital innovation.

Kevlar Cardie 25 May, 2022 10:31 am

One may think that a complete boycott of Mastercall is called for.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

Long Gone 25 May, 2022 12:23 pm

Apologies for repeating myself. But when you talk to frontline GPs about why they want to retire early and have no intention of doing any locums afterwards, the same list of reasons come out of their mouths: GMC, CQC, A&R, complaints and litigation, media vilification, increasing workload, pensions etc etc.
This case is surely a gross overreaction to a trivial exaggeration.

Vinesh Sobha 25 May, 2022 10:20 pm

I cannot believe what I just read. What a waste of time for everyone. How did this even get to this level. There is somethibg very wrong with the system.

Samir Shah 27 May, 2022 12:04 pm

The healthcare regulator says one thing, then does the opposite. Surprised?
https://www.gmc-uk.org/news/news-archive/people-places-and-culture–meeting-the-healthcare-challenges-ahead

Samir Shah 27 May, 2022 12:07 pm

Hopefully the GMC review does the right thing. It’s good that Charlie Massey has recognised the need to review its decision.

David Church 27 May, 2022 1:36 pm

Hugo has raised a very important point that was buried by the case transcripts and announcement :
Dr Aurora had previously tried to blow the whistle on an overloaded Clinical Assessment Service by stopping admisions to a dangerously overloaded service to prevent harms?
It is now clear that her referral to GMC (and the irrational and biased outcome) was in fact punishment for her blowing the whistle on dangerous practices at Mastercall earlier!
The MPTS punishment was not JUST ‘a month’ s suspension. Suspension of registration with a finding of impaired fitness to practice is an extremely serious black spot on an employment record. In this case it is an unfairly and falsely applied black spot, because she was referred to GMC on trumped up charges in punishment for her whistle-blowing activity.
Whistleblowers in UK are supposed to have protection for public interest disclosures.
BMA and MPU should consider an all-out strike until this situation is corrected.

Truth Finder 8 June, 2022 6:32 pm

Charlie Massey has another mess again. He said the GMC would change after Dr Bawa Gaba. Is this dishonesty too?
So much for reflection. The double standards. The GMC is getting worse and worse, becoming a disgrace. I think most doctors have lost faith in it. Dr Nagpaul has written a brilliant response in the BMJ.