In December 2010, the Fitness to Practice Panel (FTPP) of the General Medical Council (GMC), decided that Dr Hosny, an Egyptian national and anaesthetist, was guilty of dishonest conduct. The dishonesty stemmed from firstly sending out false references, of which she was the author and second failing to disclose the fact she was subject to fitness to practise proceedings when applying for jobs. The FTPP decided Dr Hosny’s dishonest actions amounted to misconduct which had not been remedied and that she lacked understanding of its seriousness. The FTPP concluded Dr Hosny’s fitness to practise was in fact impaired by her conduct, imposing a 12 month suspension with the aim of sending a strong message to the profession as to the seriousness of dishonest conduct.
Dr Hosny decided to appeal her 12 month suspension in front of the High Court, contending the FTPP decision on four counts. First the FTPP was wrong to conclude Dr Hosny was the author of the false references; secondly, given her Egyptian background, she had language difficulties explaining the job application errors; thirdly, the FTPP ought not to have found no remediation since her understanding of the GMC’s rules and regulations had improved and fourthly, suspension was not an appropriate sanction.
The judge dismissed the appeal, supporting the FTPP’s decision to rule against Dr Hosny. On the first count, the circumstantial evidence and lack of a credible explanation of the false references meant the FTPP were entitled to conclude Dr Hosny was the author. Secondly, although Dr Hosny clearly had language difficulties she completed all the other job application questions fully, and the ones relating to her revealing restrictions or conditions upon her “required straightforward answers to straightforward questions”. Thirdly, Dr Hosny’s denial of the dishonesty meant that not only had she not remedied the mistake but it was also evidence she had “not understood the gravity of the misconduct “.The judge went further on ground three emphasising a point from a previous case (Yeong v GMC) where the behaviour of the professional in question was not of a clinical nature, making comparison to Dr Hosny’s actions appropriate. The judge here suggested because the findings were of dishonesty, the efforts of Dr Hosny to remedy the misconduct were likely to carry less weight than in a case where there had been clinical errors, the rationale being that errors containing a clinical facet can be seen to be remedied by increased knowledge and/or further training, whereas actions adjudged to be dishonest require a much higher level of remediation by the individual. Finally, in light of the above the FTPP was well within its remit to impose the suspension, in doing so sending out a message to the profession that not only does dishonesty impair fitness to practise, but also that it will not be tolerated.