By HELEN PUTTICK HEALTH CORRESPONDENT
A SCOTTISH GP who prescribed sleeping tablets to a patient so she could end her life should be struck off, a panel of the General Medical Council was told yesterday.
Suzanne Goddard, QC, counsel for the GMC who presented the case against Dr Iain Kerr, said providing the drugs to the elderly woman was “akin to handing her a noose”.
She said erasing his name from the medical register was necessary to “maintain confidence in the profession and to safeguard the public interest”.
However, the panel, which will make the final decision on Dr Kerr’s future, was also handed a file of testimonies from colleagues and patients praising the Glasgow GP, who has worked for 30 years.
One consultant, who had known the doctor for 28 years, said he would be delighted if Dr Kerr cared for one of his own relatives. Another specialist said he first encountered the GP as a locum and described how a patient had compared him unfavourably with Dr Kerr. Patients wrote about the time and attention Dr Kerr had given their elderly parents on home visits.
Michael Mylonas, counsel for Dr Kerr, presented these accounts and proposed the 61year-old continued working subject to a set of conditions.
The hearing into Dr Kerr’s fitness to practise has been running in Manchester since Monday last week.
The panel has already found he prescribed a pensioner, known as Patient A, sleeping pills called sodium amytal in 1998 so she could take her life. They have also criticised his conduct in 2005, when the retired businesswoman killed herself using different drugs prescribed by Dr Kerr – although he has stressed he did not give her these tablets for the purpose of suicide.
Five other cases when he prescribed sodium amytal – which official guidance says should only be given to patients with severe intractable insomnia – have also been examined, and his use of the drug in three of these criticised.
Yesterday, panel chairman John Donnelly told the GP, who works in Williamwood Medical Centre, Clarkston: “Your actions and omissions amount to persistent and serious failures to meet many of the fundamental principles and standards of professional conduct as set out in Good Medical Practice.”
He added that they found his fitness to practise medicine had been impaired by his misconduct and then invited submissions about what sanctions – if any – should be imposed.
Ms Goddard said: “The fact that Patient A did not in fact use that prescription (of sodium amytal) but destroyed it some years later, does not in our submission lessen the seriousness of the initial flawed judgment shown by Dr Kerr.” She then went on to say it was “akin to handing her a noose with which to hang herself at a time of her choosing”.
The panel is expected to reach a decision today.
Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.
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