Kings College Hospital
A doctor has been suspended for a year after working for private hospitals while on paid sick leave from her NHS job.
Dr Shreelata Datta, who was employed by King’s College Hospital NHS Trust, carried out 100 paid appointments privately while signed off work between January and May 2019.
Dr Datta also performed caesareans and major surgery to remove ovaries for private hospitals during her phased return to work between May and August 2019, despite being told she wasn’t fit enough to do such tasks in her NHS role.
Datta, who qualified as a doctor in 2003, carried out work at exclusive hospitals including Chelsea’s The Lister Hospital, The Portland Hospital and King’s College’s private Guthrie Clinic.
King’s College sacked Dr Datta for gross misconduct in December 2019 after her private work came to light and informed the General Medical Council [GMC] – which registers doctors – about her actions.
A Medical Practitioners Tribunal found Dr Datta unfit to continue practising due to her behaviour and struck her off for 12 months following a hearing between May 3 and May 11.
A judgement published following the hearing reads: “The Tribunal noted that Dr Datta had undertaken a sustained, conscious period of dishonest behaviour which it had found to be serious misconduct and that she was currently impaired given her incomplete insight and the gravamen of the findings.
“The Tribunal was of the view that a 12-month period of suspension should be long enough for Dr Datta to fully reflect on her misconduct, now that admissions have been made, and to develop further insight.”
In its ruling, the tribunal said Dr Datta had been dishonest.
The chief medical officer at the NHS trust, known as Dr B in the report, had reminded her not to undertake any private work while on sick leave in an email on February 13 2019.
A record of the private appointments she conducted show Dr Datta carried out work at the Guthrie Clinic on the same day the email was sent to her.
The tribunal went on to criticise Dr Datta for putting patients at risk by working while she has been signed off as unfit.
The decision reads: “Dr Datta put patients at risk of unwarranted harm by practising when she had been signed off as unfit to work; brought the medical profession into disrepute by prioritising her own interests above those of patients; had acted dishonestly, and in so doing breached fundamental tenets of the profession.”
Dr Datta was characterised as a hard worker in the report, who in addition to her NHS and private roles carried out work for councils and helped with editing journals.
The tribunal noted she was now trying to find a better work-life balance and praised her efforts.
It said: “The Tribunal welcomes the reflections which Dr Datta has made and acknowledges that the changes in her working and personal life now allow her the time to discuss important decisions.”
The ruling made on May 11 suspends Dr Datta until May 2023.
Another hearing will take place shortly before her ban ends where she will have to show steps she has taken to avoid making the same mistakes again.
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