A prominent Angus GP at the centre of a professional tribunal deleted appointment slots as a “coping mechanism” after becoming weighed down by the pressure of extra duties.
Dr Andrew Thomson faced spiralling pressure after volunteering for extra administrative duties when he returned to Forfar’s Academy Street medical centre after ten months off, knowing his colleagues at the busy town practice had struggled without him.
The highly regarded doctor is currently the subject of a Medical Practitioners Tribunal hearing which is likely to conclude in Manchester in the early part of this week, with a three-strong panel yet to rule on whether the GP’s fitness to practice was impaired and if any sanction should be imposed.
The tribunal has significantly reduced the number or allegations proven against Dr Thomson in the wake of a General Medical Council investigation which emerged from concerns raised in 2014.
In one specific matter where Dr Thomson admitted faking an appointment in the name of M Mouse, the panel has accepted the medic’s explanation that fictitious monikers are often used in IT training and would have obviously been a false name to anyone viewing it – put there on the single occasion to deal with an administration matter relating to a newly-appointed practice manager.
The tribunal has considered evidence from five of Dr Thomson’s colleagues at the Forfar practice, as well as the doctor himself, now based at Brechin health centre.
Dr Thomson was the executive partner at Academy Street and also had external roles with the Angus Clinical Health Partnership, Royal College of GP and the British Medical Association.
He was heavily involved in the preparation of a tender for prison health services and was dealing with the ultimately unsuccessful plan to merge Academy Street and Ravenswood in the creation of a Forfar ‘supersurgery’.
MPTS tribunal chair Mr Robert Ince said: “You made a considerable number of admissions at the outset of this hearing, which included admissions of dishonesty.
“It was not disputed by the GMC that you had been doing more administration and a wider-ranging set of tasks than other partners at the centre.
“Overall the tribunal considered that you did your best to provide a truthful and frank account of what had occurred and it concluded that your evidence was credible and truthful.”
The chair added: “You told the tribunal that you had resorted to deleting appointment slots as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressure of your work commitments after you had returned to work after a lengthy period of sick leave in 2010.
“You said that you had been off work for ten months from September 2010 and, on your return, you felt very indebted to your partners as you knew that they had struggled without you.
“You therefore resolved to make it up to them by volunteering for and taking on extra administrative duties. This in turn eventually caused you to become stressed, so you began to adopt the coping strategy described above.”
The panel will now consider if the tribunal moves to a third stage, if it rules Dr Thomson’s fitness to practice is impaired.
MPTS tribunals make independent decisions about fitness to practice after the GMC investigates cases and them to the professional body.