LAHORE, July 20: The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council has decided to implement the decision of foreign regulatory authorities, particularly the General Medical Council (GMC), United Kingdom, which had awarded major punishments including a ban on practicing medicine on 79 Pakistani doctors in UK and other European countries.
The PMDC’s disciplinary committee gave final approval in its last meeting held on July 7 to fully implement the decision of foreign bodies, including GMC, and Irish Medical Council etc.
According to documents, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the GMC’s Fitness to Practice Panel had investigated the Pakistani doctors’ cases primarily.
Earlier, the foreign councils had dispatched a complete record of the doctors in question to the PMDC with a set of charges proved against them during investigations carried out by the senior staff of these bodies.
It was the first case of its kind in which the PMDC took a hard stance against health practitioners working abroad ‘for bringing a bad name to the country’ as the foreign councils had raised serious questions to the clinical competence of the guilty doctors, besides charging them on disciplinary and fitness grounds.
A majority of these doctors were penalised for professional misconduct, keeping incomplete record of the patients while practicing in the UK, misdiagnosing, poor clinical findings and communication with patients, carrying out broad range of procedures despite warnings issued by the competent authorities like Royal College of Surgeons and the British Orthopedic Association, for not running audit and morbidity/mortality meetings, for not qualifying surgery core knowledge test for the evaluation of surgical skill, not meeting the minimum standards set by the GMP and for shaking patients’ trust etc.
Particularly, the GMC had barred the Pakistani doctors from practicing medicine in the UK and other European countries for varying periods --- six to eight months in cases of lesser degree violations and from 12 to 18 months for serious offences. It had also withdrawn or suspended licenses to practice and registration of some medics.
The other privileges attached to the license to practice are also denied to the medics while their registration is suspended. They are also not allowed to undertake activities such as prescribing or signing statutory certificates whilst they are suspended.
In order to practice medicine in the UK a doctor must hold registration and a license. The GMC sets the standards for Good Medical Practice (GMP) it expects of doctors throughout their working lives.
Of these 79 Pakistani doctors, the GMC had withdrawn practice license of two, imposed a ban on practice for a period of 12 to 18 month on 16 and imposed practicing conditions on 13 others. It had also erased name of four Pakistani doctors from medical register. Some local medics were issued warnings which will remain in their practicing record for the next five years.
A Pakistani doctor was penalised following a warning issued by the South Yorkshire Police under fitness to practice procedure.
Another local medic was convicted of driving with excessive alcohol and did not notify the GMC of this without delay. “This conduct did not meet with the standards required of a doctor and risks bringing the profession into disrepute”, the GMC informed the PMDC.
The PMDC had taken up the cases of these 79 doctors in its previous meetings and empowered its disciplinary committee to take action against them on behalf of the Council. The Council ordered that progress on these cases would be monitored and presented to the committee for trial and action taken by the PMDC would be shared with the rest of the world.
Later, the seven-member disciplinary committee headed by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan met in Karachi on August 2011 which was also attended by seven senior doctors as experts for consultation. The cases of all 79 doctors sent by the foreign regulators were presented in the meeting.
“The committee had detailed deliberations in the light of the decision of the PMDC and recommended to the council that decisions of fitness to practice cases be communicated to all regulatory authorities of the world and with a request not to allow practice by a Pakistani practitioner sentenced by the Disciplinary Committee of the PMDC unless such decision is reviewed or suspended by Court of law”, the documents said.
Similarly, it observed that the decision of a foreign regulatory authority declaring a Pakistani practitioner not fit to practice would be honored and implemented and the sentence given out by the foreign regulator would be enforced in Pakistan. As the foreign regulatory authority had passed the sentence after inquiry and personal hearing which must be accepted by the Council and thus there was no need for a fresh trial by the Council, it added.
“It is recommended that the Council should accept and adopt the principals suggested above”, the disciplinary committee meeting concluded.
When contacted PMDC Registrar Ahmad Nadeem Akbar confirmed that the Council had given final approval to the recommendations of disciplinary committee in its July 7 meeting held in Islamabad.