A doctor suspended for two months for dishonesty has lost their appeal against the sanction in Pandian v General Medical Council [2024] EWHC 629 (Admin) (26 March 2024).

The appeal is directed at the Tribunal’s finding that Dr Pandian (“the Registrant”) had not conducted an examination of Patient A on 24 May 2019, even though she had written into Patient A’s notes various matters which indicated that an examination had taken place; and to the Tribunal’s finding that the Registrant had been dishonest in doing so. The Registrant submitted that the Tribunal’s decision on the facts was wrong and/or was unjust because of serious procedural or other irregularity.

The Grounds of Appeal are as follows:

I. The Tribunal’s determination of fact, based upon the evidence, in relation to certain allegations were wrong, in that the Tribunal based its decision upon “persuasive demeanour” and memory which was clearly fallible. This was the incorrect approach;

II. The GMC failed to present evidence from Dr Khan, the consultant supervising the Registrant, which contributed to the wrong decision by the Tribunal;

III. The Tribunal’s decision to allow Patient A’s employment to be elicited was procedurally incorrect. The fact was irrelevant and therefore inadmissible.

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Mr Justice Sheldon turned down the appeal on all three grounds, saying:

“Ultimately, therefore, there was no objective contemporaneous evidence of an examination by Dr Pandian or by Dr Khan against which the witness evidence of Patient A (and Mr B) could be tested. In the circumstances, the Tribunal’s focus on the witness evidence was not wrong.

Furthermore, this is not a case where the Tribunal only relied on Patient A’s evidence based on her demeanour. There were a number of other matters which bolstered the Tribunal’s finding that Patient A was a convincing witness and so should be believed. The Tribunal was impressed by the fact that Patient A had recalled that Dr Khan had underlined the word “anxiety”, and this was correct when the documentary evidence was looked at. There was also corroboration of her evidence by Mr B. Patient A’s evidence was also supported by her relatively swift complaint that she had not been examined by Dr Pandian. The Tribunal also found that Patient A appreciated the significance of making a case against a doctor. There was, therefore, plenty of support for the Tribunal’s conclusion that the examination by Dr Pandian had not occurred.

“As for the discrepancies between Mr B’s evidence and that of Patient A, it is correct that these are not specifically mentioned by the Tribunal. Nevertheless, the failure to mention these matters does not mean that the Tribunal’s decision was wrong, as not all arguments made to a regulatory panel have to be addressed specifically in its decision. The fact that Mr B’s evidence was inconsistent with Patient A on minor, or more tangential, matters does not mean that the Tribunal was wrong to accept Mr B’s evidence as being reliable, and therefore corroborative, on the key question as to whether Patient A was examined by Dr Pandian.”

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