GP shocked at court action

A DOCTOR who recently escaped being struck-off after having an affair with a patient says he is “saddened and shocked” after learning he is to face High Court action that could end his career.

A DOCTOR who recently escaped being struck-off after having an affair with a patient says he is “saddened and shocked” after learning he is to face High Court action that could end his career.

The Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals(CRHP) has decided Dr Michael Leeper was treated too leniently when he appeared before the General Medical Council(GMC) earlier this year and it now wants him struck-off the register.

The CRHP was set up in 2003 after the Dr Harold Shipman inquiry to oversee regulatory bodies such as the GMC. Under powers handed down from Parliament, the new body has the ability to take decisions taken on misconduct charges to the High Court.

It has now lodged proceedings at the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court in London where it will be seeking to have Dr Leeper erased from the register.

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Alternatively, the CRHP is seeking to get Dr Leeper's case remitted to the GDC's professional conduct committee for a review of the decision.

Last night Dr Leeper said: “I can confirm that it is the case the CRHP is taking me to the High Court to try and get me erased. I am shocked and saddened, but I can not make any further comment because of legal reasons.”

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Dr Leeper, 48, has served the community of Clare and surrounding parishes since the 1980s, and thousands of former patients have come out to support him since he appeared before the GMC.

The doctor, who lives in Hundon, admitted a charge of serious professional misconduct by having a periodic affair with a female patient, known as Miss A, when he appeared before the GMC in February.

The governing body decided not to strike him off, but instead ordered him to work under supervision for two years.

Its decision was based on the GP's previous unblemished record, the overwhelming support he received from patients and his openness throughout the investigation.

But his career was already effectively in tatters after bosses at Sudbury's Hardwicke House Surgery expelled him from his Stonehall Surgery in Clare, in 2003, just days after he had suffered a mental breakdown as a result of the case and admitting to the affair.

Dr Leeper set up the Stonehall Surgery in 1992, but formed a partnership with Hardwicke House in 2002. He has not worked as a GP since he was expelled from the surgery.

Since he appeared before the GMC his former patients have formed a campaign group to have him reinstated at the Clare surgery he set up. Around 2,000 people have now signed a petition demanding he is given his job back and the campaigners plan to lobby local health chiefs and MPs in the near future.

The campaigners now say they will also back Dr Leeper in his new battle against the CRHP and will attempt to take the matter to the European Courts if the he is eventually struck-off.

Jane Padfield, who is leading the campaign for Dr Leeper said: “The decision by the CRHP is appalling. He has been punished and it is disgusting to punish him again.

“We just can't believe this is happening when you consider he has unprecedented support from his patients. Nearly 2,000 of the 2,500 patients he had on his books have signed the petition.

“We want to make it clear to the CRHP that if it goes ahead with this action we will take legal advice over launching our own battle in the European Courts.”

No comment was available from the CRHP last night, but the High Court hearing is due to be heard sometime before the end of July.

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