Kalaf v General Medical Council, QBD (Admin), 14 February 2017

A doctor, K, has failed in his appeal against the decisions of two interim order panels – the first which imposed conditions on his practice, and the second which suspended him. The court found that the orders were necessary to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession.

Background

Concerns were raised against K in a range of areas, including that he had discharged ill patients and had over-prescribed (by a multiple of 20) a drug to a two-month-old baby. Concerns remained, despite his employer putting in place a support plan. K’s employer dismissed him, and referred him to the GMC. K obtained a job at another hospital and failed to declare the GMC investigation when he should have done. When this was discovered, the second employer dismissed him.

At an interim order hearing, conditions were imposed on K’s practice. Further evidence then emerged that he had failed several examinations (including one in relation to his competence in the English language), and an independent expert found that the care provided by K fell significantly below what was expected. A second interim order then suspended K from practice, pending a full hearing.

The appeal

K appealed to the High Court on the following grounds:

  • he disputed the evidence of the expert, saying that the expert did not know him
  • the references he had provided had been ignored
  • while he did have problems with English, the results of a test he was due to take would demonstrate his competence

The appeal was rejected. The evidence before the first panel had been overwhelming, and conditions were necessary to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession. By the time of the hearing by the second panel, there were concerns regarding K’s prescribing, his honesty and his language skills. His colleagues gave evidence that they were concerned about his competence. The expert evidence carried great weight, and the expert had been instructed precisely because he did not know K.

If K passed the language test, that was evidence that could be presented in due course. In the meantime however, there were serious public safety concerns and the suspension was justified.