Wednesday 13 December 2017

Struck-off doctor admits writing prescriptions under false name

Former GP at centre of garda probe continued to authorise drugs for 'very important patients' despite losing his licence

CAREER OVER: Dr Mohammed Ahmed Khan, who used to run a practice in Dublin, outside his house in Clonee. Photo: Tony Gavin
CAREER OVER: Dr Mohammed Ahmed Khan, who used to run a practice in Dublin, outside his house in Clonee. Photo: Tony Gavin
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A doctor is being investigated by gardai for continuing to prescribe drugs to patients after he was struck off by the Medical Council.

Dr Mohammed Ahmed Khan, who had a practice on Wicklow Street in Dublin city centre, is suspected of issuing the prescriptions under the name of another doctor after he lost his licence in 2015 for overprescribing sleeping pills.

The garda investigation is focusing on allegations that the GP prescribed medicines under another doctor's name. The inquiry has been under way for more than a year and it is believed that statements have been taken from more than 100 people, some of them Dr Khan's former patients. A file is expected to be passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the coming months.

This weekend, Dr Khan admitted that he continued to prescribe drugs for "one or two very important" patients after he was struck off, but he only did so while he was trying to wind up his practice.

Asked if he wrote the prescriptions under the name of another doctor, he replied: "Yes, the guy who used to do locum actually, you know, yes. Because the Medical Council, they would not give me a chance, so yes."

Dr Khan first came to the attention of the Medical Council in 2012. He was reported by a pharmacist who noticed high levels of benzodiazepines - highly addictive, psychoactive drugs used as tranquilisers - that he was prescribing to patients. Dr Khan was allowed to continue to practise but with conditions attached to his licence.

Three years later, in June 2015, he was struck off by the Medical Council for overprescribing sleeping pills to one of his patients. He faced 15 allegations of professional misconduct and was found guilty of 11, with his treatment of the patient condemned as "disgraceful" and "dishonourable".

Dr Khan's lawyer claimed that he had symptoms of depression and pleaded that cancelling his registration at the age of 65 would effectively end his career.

Six months later, in November 2015, a pharmacist complained that Dr Khan was apparently still practising and notified gardai and the Medical Council.

The regulatory body obtained a High Court injunction to stop him from practising and took the unusual step of issuing a public announcement warning the public to report him to gardai or the Medical Council if they encountered him practising medicine.

Inviting the Sunday Independent into his home on Friday, Dr Khan (66) said he didn't want to be involved in any more inquiries.

"I finished, I stopped, I am fully retired now," he said. He added that he was "fed up", that his business with the Medical Council was "finished" and that he had not heard from An Garda Siochana since last year.

Dr Khan said he practised as a GP in the UK before moving to Ireland more than 20 years ago.

He said he wasn't given the time to wind down his busy practice of "5,000 to 6,000 patients" and find another doctor to take over after he was struck off in June 2015.

"I can't leave the patient on the street actually - 5,000 to 6,000 patients - the Medical Council did not give me any chance. They just say your registration is cancelled and close the practice. How can you close it?" he said.

He said he told patients that he was closing, and that he issued prescriptions to "one or two" patients "in good faith".

"Some patients, some time one or two very important patients - I just can't leave them, heart patients, you know, or patient having chronic problems - I can't leave them like that. Maybe I issue prescription, very few."

Dr Khan said they were "normal" prescriptions for problems such as heart conditions, and not tranquilisers.

He said he closed his practice on October 27, 2015, and had not issued any prescriptions since then.

But he said gardai became involved in November of that year when a pharmacist made a complaint that "Dr Khan is still there". He said 10 to 20 gardai came to his house and searched it, and took his patient files, which meant he could not sell his practice.

"I am very unhappy with them. They behave like I was a drug smuggler, you know, or I was a gangster or a weapons supplier or something. So this is very bad actually….They bought 10 or 20 people here, searching in every corner, everything. They make a mess," he said.

Dr Khan criticised the Medical Council for its treatment of doctors who come before it, describing the process as humiliating and intimidating. He also criticised the procedures used to strike him off but said that he didn't have the money to challenge the case in the High Court.

"The doctors are really suffering by this Medical Council. Doctors pay for the Medical Council and the doctors are humiliated and unfairly and badly treated by the Medical Council," he said.

He said "people should know the facts", adding: "It is not only me, there are so many other doctors that are being badly treated by the Medical Council."

In a statement, the Medical Council said: "Dr Mohammed Ahmed Khan's registration was cancelled by the Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Committee, confirmed by the High Court on June 8, 2015.

"He subsequently continued to practise as a doctor and the Medical Council, on December 17, 2015, secured a High Court injunction restraining Dr Khan from practising medicine while unregistered."

Sunday Independent

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