A doctor erased for dishonesty has lost her appeal against the MPTS sanction.
Dr Natasha Ranga appealed against the sanction of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) that decided to erase her from the medical register for misconduct for:
- Dishonesty in submitting two academic exercises that were plagiarised and not her own work;
- Breaching patient confidentiality;
- Dishonesty in communication with another doctor and a patient’s solicitor;
- Failure to keep records.
“Consequently, the Tribunal is not persuaded, currently, that the risk of repetition of similar conduct is sufficiently low as to enable it to conclude that Dr Ranga has remediated the concerns to which her conduct has given rise.“
Ground of appeal
Dr Ranga appealed the sanction on the following grounds:
- The Tribunal did not find that her conduct was irremediable.
- Insufficient regard was had to the mitigation including, the passage of time, competent working since the incident, admission of certain allegations against her.
- There was a double counting of aggravating factors because the Tribunal improperly considered facts found against Dr Ranga as aggravating the conduct itself.
- The risk of repetition was improperly approached and too low a standard was applied, which misunderstood the sanctions guidance.
- It was an error to classify Patient C as “vulnerable” and the consequences for Patient C were wrongly overemphasised and it was improper to ask a question of her regarding the reputation of the profession, (as was done in the course of the hearing).
Dr Ranga sought to persuade the court that erasure is only proportionate and appropriate in those cases where there is no chance of remediation at all. Mrs Justice Foster however disagreed, stating:
It cannot be avoided that given the multiple cases of dishonesty, erasure was a likely sanction if the facts and their character were either admitted or proved. The aim of imposing the sanction here was maintenance of public confidence and of conduct and standards within the profession.
Foster J went on to turn down the other ground of appeal, saying:
They characterised her behaviour as repeated and persistent dishonesty and the departures from principles as being breaches of the fundamental tenets of the profession and incompatible with continued registration. For these reasons, evidence of Dr Ranga’s clinical competence was of less relevance and “does not mitigate the impact of her serious and persistent dishonesty”.
All in all, it is the seriousness and the persistence that characterized the behaviour which in my judgement made erasure inevitable. Sadly this was not just one incident of not telling the truth. There was evidence also of cover up and of dishonesty in different contexts. That has real resonance when examining the seriousness and the ultimate remediability of the harms done.
Given the number of events of dishonesty, the different contexts in which they arose, the concealment of the truth about the second essay for a considerable time and doubts about insight, erasure was not disproportionate or otherwise appealably wrong.