DCSIMG

Doctor had a 'cavalier' attitude to patients' Viagra needs

A Lancashire doctor has been found to have his fitness to practise impaired by a medical watchdog - after breaching patients' confidentiality over their sexual problems.

The General Medical Council ruled that Dr Peter Robinson had a "cavalier" attitude toward patient privacy after he sent a letter to a friend 'rejoicing' over one patient's problems with impotence and revealed another patient's use of Viagra in an e-mail to his girlfriend.

The 57-year-old, a GP at the Longton Health Centre, in Liverpool Road, Longton, near Preston, has been appearing before the General Medical Council in Manchester accused of two separate allegations of patient confidentiality.

The family GP, who was a senior partner at the village practice until he retired a few months ago, admitted both breaches which happened between July 2005 and December 2006.

Dr Robinson, who is separated from his wife and has one daughter, admitted sending a copy of a hospital letter referring to Patient A who was receiving treatment for erectile dysfunction, to Ron Strickland, who also lives in Longton and was a friend of his.

Dr Robinson told the GMC's Fitness to Practise (corr) panel that he and Mr Strickland strongly believed Patient A had financially disadvantaged them, so when he saw the letter, he photocopied it and sent it to Mr Strickland so they could both have a "little laugh."

The hearing also heard the GP crossed out the name of the patient in black ink before sending the letter together with a practice complement slip stating: "No names, no pack drill. Christmas is coming early I think! P."

Prosecuting for the GMC, Ms Nimi Bruce said: "It was a big laugh wasn't it. This is you sniggering at another man's inability to get an erection.

"I suggest this was targeted and vindictive behaviour against an individual.

"You gave Mr Strickland leverage over you. You are the author of your own misfortune.

"Your behaviour was absolutely disgraceful, childish and inappropriate."

The GP also admitted sending an e-mail to his girlfriend at the time "poking fun" at another patient - Patient B's - repeat prescription for Viagra.

Dr Robinson told the hearing that he printed off this e-mail together with other e-mails to and from his girlfriend as he considered them to be "love letters" and kept them in his living room.

However, this were found by Dr Robinson's estranged wife who had a key to his home and she gave them to Mr Strickland who later made a complaint to NHS Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust and then the GMC.

Ms Harriet Jerram defending Dr Robinson told the hearing that the GP had a previous unblemished record and that at the time, he was under stress because of the breakdown of his marriage.

Dr Robinson told the panel: "I am mortified at what I did. I know it was wrong. I would never in any circumstances do it again."

However, the GMC panel determined that Dr Robinson's conduct fell far short of the standards expected of a registered medical practitioner and represented a serious breach of the principles that are central to good medical practice.

Ms Alyson Leslie, chairman of the panel said: "Your evidence was that both incidents were not carried out with any malicious intent, but rather meant as a joke.

"The panel considers this to be demonstrative of your continuing cavalier attitude to the issue of privacy and dignity and considers your conduct in respect of both the letter and the e-mail was puerile and disrespectful."

The panel ruled that Dr Robinson's misconduct was so serious that his fitness to practice is impaired by reason of his misconduct.

They will now decide the appropriate sanctions, if any, to be imposed on the GP's registration.

(Proceeding)

 
 
 

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