A doctor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology described as “excellent” with a long and distinguished record has lost his appeal against erasure.
Mr Justice Choudhury, commenting on Dr Noor Ahmed reputation, said “in clinical terms, an excellent doctor. He has a long and distinguished record in his specialty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is highly regarded by colleagues, particularly in laparoscopic and minimally invasive gynaecological surgery, has a respected body of research work, and is the author of a number of papers published in recognised journals.”
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal (“the Tribunal”), on 4 October 2019, decided that Dr Ahmed’s name be erased from the Medical Register. The Tribunal made adverse findings as to Dr Ahmed’s conduct relating to the failure to disclose full details of previous Fitness to Practise (“FTP”) decisions, an ongoing FTP investigation and other matters to a prospective employer in an application form and during a job interview. The Tribunal found such conduct to be dishonest, that the dishonesty was particularly serious and that his FTP was impaired by reason of his conduct. The Tribunal also considered whether FTP was impaired by reason of the Appellant’s health but concluded that it was not.
Dr Ahmed appealed the Tribunal’s decision in what Choudhury J referred to as a “lamentable” state of affairs that a medic of such high ability should find himself having to appeal against the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal.
Dr Ahmed brought the appeal on a number of grounds:
- Unfair introduction of material
- Unfairly introduced bad character
- Unfair and prejudicial mistreatment by GMC counsel
- Poor Legal Representation
- Unfairly arranging the attend the GMC hearing while still recovering from illness
- Rushing to attend the hearing by GMC and my representative
After a string of adjournments, the appeal hearing was heard on 24 February 2022.
Choudhury J refused all the grounds put forward by Dr Ahmed, commenting:
Although there is no ground of appeal expressly challenging the sanction of erasure, it is clear that that is the underlying purpose of the appeal. The Appellant was at pains to point out that he sought at all times to act honourably and openly in making his application to Lothian, having learned a painful lesson from the findings made against him in 2008, that any shortcoming in his application was inadvertent and not due to dishonesty, and that he would have had little to gain by seeking to conceal past sanctions or current investigations as such matters can be readily checked on the GMC website. However, all of this ignores the very clear findings made by the Tribunal as to nature and character of the Appellant’s conduct. There is nothing in those findings that can be said to be wrong or unjust given the evidence before the Tribunal, including the evidence given by the Appellant himself. That included evidence that documents were altered. Whilst the Appellant disputed aspects of the evidence considered by the Tribunal, there was nothing to support the contention that the Tribunal reached the wrong conclusions.
The Tribunal considered that erasure was the only proportionate sanction in the circumstances, was necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the medical profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. Although the Appellant has not expressly contended that that conclusion was wrong, I bear in mind the Appellant’s unrepresented status and the fact that he has been required to proceed with his appeal when his preference was to have it adjourned yet again. I therefore consider for myself whether the sanction was wrong and whether it was excessive and/or disproportionate. Having considered all the material before this court, I unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that the sanction of erasure was appropriate and necessary in the public interest. The allegations found proved against the Appellant were very serious. Although not related to clinical matters, they went to other fundamental aspects of character and probity which the public is entitled to expect of medical practitioners. The alteration of documents, the lack of insight even after an earlier finding of dishonesty in 2008, and the repeated pattern of conduct all lead to the inevitable conclusion that, as the Tribunal found, erasure was the only proportionate sanction.
Standing back and viewing matters in the round, there is nothing in this appeal that persuades me that the decision overall was “unjust”. The outcome of erasure is a very sad one for such a capable and distinguished doctor, but it was, in my judgment, entirely correct.