The MPTS “accepted, in general terms” that Dr Arora was not a dishonest person, but that suspension would ”send a message that her misconduct, albeit relating to a single fleeting moment of dishonesty was not acceptable”. The Royal College has now said in a statement: “GPs are working in an increasingly punitive and litigious environment and any referral to the GMC causes enormous stress and distress for the doctor being investigated, their colleagues and families. As well as being devastating for Dr Arora, cases such as this only make it harder to retain existing GPs and persuade new ones to go into general practice, and particularly to work in out of hours.
Dr. Arora, who was working as a locum practitioner for Stockport-based out-of-hours provider Mastercall when she made the request in December 2019, faced a 15-month investigation that concluded in an eight-day disciplinary hearing this month despite more than 30 years of exceptional service. Dr. Arora was found guilty of dishonesty, significant professional misconduct, and “impaired” capacity to practise medicine by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). She has been placed on a 28-day suspension.
The College said it has also raised concerns with the Care Quality Commission about the “disproportionate impact of its inspection regime on doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds”. GPs around the country are also facing “numerous IT issues” that are affecting their ability to do their job, the College added. The decision to suspend Dr Arora for a month sparked a furious reaction from medics. Some 5,000 people have now signed a letter from the grassroots lobbying organisation Doctors’ Association UK asking the Professional Standards Agency to investigate the GMC’s handling of the case. The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin has also raised the case with the GMC.
“GPs and their teams are working under greater pressures than ever before. We have a severe shortage of GPs at the same time as patient demand and complexity is increasing, and we need much greater support – including better IT and infrastructure – to do our jobs properly and care for patients safely, without it adversely impacting our own health. Therefore, it seems incomprehensible to remove a doctor with, to our knowledge, an otherwise impeccable track record from frontline patient care, even for a short period of time.”
Last week i revealed that Dr Arora was finally given a laptop in April 2020 five months after her original request for one, by which point disciplinary proceedings had already begun. It is understood she is considering an appeal. The GMC said the case had gone to a full hearing because there was a dispute of facts between Dr Arora and Mastercall. Chief executive Charlie Massey said he has asked for a review of this case “to understand whether there are lessons to learn and apply for future cases”.