A doctor has been suspended after he declared 127 taxi drivers were fit to work - without even seeing their medical records.
Dr Bimal Singh carried out “medicals” on Middlesbrough and Hartlepool taxi drivers, who were applying for or renewing their licences, during 2014 and 2015.
But a tribunal heard he completed certificates of fitness to drive taxis WITHOUT checking their medical records. And had he done so, he’d have found several past medical episodes - including one driver who had a history of drinking excess alcohol.
The same driver, the Manchester Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing was told, had mental health issues and made three suicide attempts in 2012.
Ten other drivers’ medical histories were raised at the tribunal, which included references to long-term mental health problems, low mood, back pain, hypertension, depression and, in one driver’s case, psychotic episodes associated with cannabis in September 2012 and Jan-
Dr Singh admitted making false declarations about the fitness to drive of the applicants. But he denied his actions were misleading and/or dishonest and was suspended for one month.
Gazettelive reports that the hearing was told that Dr Singh, an experienced doctor who has worked in the UK since 1979, carried out the taxi drivers’ medicals privately, in addition to his normal GP working hours, between October 2014 and June 2015. But in June 2015, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool councils raised concerns with NHS England, having received reports he was carrying out “an increasing number” of taxi medicals - all brief and for a relatively low fee. When challenged, Dr Singh admitted carrying them out without seeing medical histories, and acknowledged he “ought to have known” he should have seen them.
The tribunal ruled: “Local licensing authorities entrust doctors to undertake medicals for taxi drivers properly and the tribunal was satisfied that your misleading behaviour had potentially serious consequences for public safety – your actions potentially put members of the public who use taxis, as well as other road users and pedestrians, at risk.”
Saying that Middlesbrough Council would have continued to take his false declarations at face value had concerns not been acted upon, it added: “When conducting the medicals, you relied on the information provided to you by the drivers and not their medical records, and you falsely completed and signed the forms and certificates to the effect that you had in fact accessed them.
“The tribunal has already determined that your doing so was not simply a mistake, but a recurrent negligent failure on your part.”
The tribunal concluded that suspension would be “appropriate and proportionate” but said any more than a month would be “punitive”.
The ruling added: “You have acknowledged fault for your behaviour and have expressed deep remorse for acting as you did. The tribunal was satisfied that you have insight, that you have remediated your misconduct, and that you will not act in the same way again. In addition, the tribunal was satisfied that you do not pose any risk to patient safety.”
Dr Singh can “resume unrestricted practice” after his suspension, with the tribunal noting he stopped carrying out taxi medicals in 2015 and the “numerous positive testimonials” on his behalf about his integrity, probity, good character and high standard of clinical competence.
Middlesbrough Council and the health trust have been approached for comment.