Hull GP could be struck off for dishonest behaviour

The former boss of an NHS organisation could be struck off after a panel found he had twice acted dishonestly.

Dr Tony Banerjee, former chairman of Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, asked a receptionist at a surgery in Cottingham, near Hull, to sign his life insurance form in another doctor’s name.

He later arranged for the document to be sent to NatWest Life, actions which a disciplinary panel considered “misleading and dishonest.”

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He also witnessed the will of an elderly man with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, when he knew he may not have been mentally capable, which the panel found “misleading and not the kind of behaviour a doctor should engage in.”

Today the Fitness to Practice panel, sitting in Manchester, found his actions “sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct”, and said they “breached a fundamental tenet of the profession and calls your integrity and judgement into question.”

They found the GP’s fitness to practice was impaired and will have to decide today whether to apply any sanctions, the most severe of which would see him struck off.

They said they were concerned by attempts in his evidence to distance himself from accepting full responsibility, adding “(it) demonstrates a continuing lack of judgement that the panel considers not to have been remediated.”

They added: “The panel is of the view that the misconduct is of a kind that the profession would view with opprobium.” The hearing in Manchester, has heard that the receptionist, who was working at the Chestnuts Surgery in Cottingham, said she had been asked by the GP in February 2009, “how she was on Dr B’s signature as the form needed to go off.” She said he had given her an “imploring look” and that she had “scrawled” the other GP’s signature.

The panel found earlier that Dr Banerjee had not been a “particularly credible” witness in respect of the allegation because of inconsistencies in accounts he had given and the “inherent improbability” of his oral evidence.

In contrast the receptionist was found to be “a credible and reliable witness...who was very positive about her working relationship with you and your abilities as a doctor and the panel considered this added credibility to her evidence.” Robin Kitching, representing the General Medical Council, said earlier that Dr Banerjee had not “only dragged the receptionist into dishonesty” but made “unjustified criticisms” of the other GP.

The panel has found the doctor had acted as a witness to a patient’s will when he saw him in hospital in November 2011 at the request of his great-nephew, who was an old school friend. The GP claimed he did not appreciate he was being asked to sign the document as a witness. But the panel said the nature of the document was “obvious” and “even accounting for the fact that you had limited time to consider it, it would have been clear to you that it was a will.”

The panel decided Dr Banerjee’s fitness to practice was also impaired as a result of his “deficient” professional performance. The doctor had failed a GP knowledge test and accepted he was “not the finished article.”

In the test he scored 57.5 per cent below the standard set mark of 63.53 per cent.

The panel could now decide not to take any action, place conditions on him, or suspend his registration or strike him off.

During his training as a GP, Dr Banerjee worked in Withernsea and Willerby. He spent a year and a half in the practice in Cottingham, before coming to the Marfleet Group Practice in 2009. The hearing continues tomorrow.