Case Number: 13063








Mr T Jones



Dr S P Sharma

Professional Member


Mrs C Greene























(GMC NO: 2649265)  









The Application


1.         On the 1st March 2006 the Applicant PCT (“The PCT”) removed the Respondents (“Dr Duffin”) name from its Medical Performers List having given him an earlier opportunity to make representations. He did not make any save to say he was considering other career options outside of medicine for the foreseeable future. He was notified of the removal and of his right of appeal therein. He did not appeal. Subsequently, the PCT wrote to the FHSAA requesting the National Disqualification of the Respondent pursuant to Regulation 10 of the NHS (Performers List) Regulations 2004, as the Respondent is said to be unsuitable for inclusion in any Medical Performers List.




2.         Dr Duffin pleaded guilty to 22 separate charges of obtaining drugs by deception, and the unlawful possession of class A and C drugs. 156 similar offences were taken into consideration. The offences admitted took place between October 1999 and January 2005. Dr Duffin was suspended on 13th January 2005 from the practitioner list by the PCT. Admissions were said to have been made by Dr Duffin that he had had problems since 1998. He admitted to being addicted to dihydrocodeine and had been taking up to twenty 30 mg tablets a day. He also admitted to occasionally taking up to five 10mg injections of diamorphine a day. He named four patients for whom he had written out prescriptions, but had taken the drugs himself. He claimed to have been attended upon an out of hour’s patient and medication was prescribed. Another Doctor had attended upon the patient. That was thought to be an attempt to explain a shortage of diamorphine held at a surgery. A briefing paper was prepared for the PCT detailing the offences and was agreed with Dr Duffin who had co-operated with police enquiries.


3.         Subsequently, Dr Duffin appeared before Chester Magistrates Court on 9th December 2005, having pleaded guilty earlier. On that date following the preparation of a pre sentence report, he was sentenced to a total of 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years with costs. His name was removed from the PCT’s performers list on 1st March 2006, because the PCT felt that the offences were so serious in nature that he was unsuitable to remain on the performers list. The PCT seeks, on notice, an order of national disqualification given the serious nature of the offences charged and admitted.


4.         Dr Duffin, having been given timely notice of the hearing did not appear or make any representations herein.           


Our Conclusions


5.         The power to make a national disqualification is contained in Section 49N of the Health and Social Care Act 2001. In August 2004 the Department of Health provided guidance on national disqualifications and delivering quality primary care: PCT Management of Primary Care Practitioners Lists.


6.         The guidance contains two relevant propositions: “where the facts of the case are serious it would wrong to allow the doctor to offer his services to every (PCT) in turn in the hope that he will find one willing to accept him”.  Further, “unless the grounds for their decision were essentially local it would be normal to give serious consideration … to an application for national disqualification”.  Therein, we refer to paragraphs 8.1.2 and 8.1.5 of the guidance notes referred to above. 


7.         In determining the application made by the PCT herein, we find that the Grounds of Application are well made out. We find that the PCT was empowered and quite right to remove Dr Duffin from their Medical Performer’s List; and, in light of the Department of Health guidance as noted above have quite properly, and we find quite rightly, made an application for national disqualification. The PCT’s actions we find were entirely proper and proportionate. We say this because, against any standard of proof, there can be no doubt that the offences committed over a significant period of time, are serious; and are such, that Dr Duffin is unsuitable as a result of such to be included in any Performers List.




8.         Our order is that pursuant to Section 49N(3) of the National Health Service Act as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2001, that Dr Duffin be disqualified from inclusion in all Performer’s Lists prepared by all Primary Care Trusts, all lists deemed to succeed or replace such lists by virtue of Regulations made there under.  In so doing, proportionately, we have weighed the effects of this Order upon the Appellant, against the risk to patients if a national disqualification is not made. 


9.         Further, reflecting upon such balance and proportionality, we are satisfied that the criminal conduct of Dr Duffin is such that there is no realistic prospect of a successful review at the end of a two year period as set out in section 48N (8) of the National Health Service Act 1977 and pursuant to Regulation 19 (a) of the 2004 Regulations referred to above, we direct that respect of Dr Duffin the two year period be replaced by a five year period.


10.       We direct that a copy of this decision be sent to the bodies referred to in Regulation 47 of the Family Health Services Appeal Authority (Procedure) Rules 2001.


11.       Finally, in accordance with Rule 42 (5) of the Procedure Rules we hereby notify that a party to these proceedings can appeal this decision under section 11 of the Tribunals and Enquiries Act 1992 by lodging a notice of appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL, within 28 days from receipt of this decision.






Mr T Jones, Chairman

14th August 2006