Doctor guilty of professional misconduct over registration

Sudanese physician failed to disclose fact he was refused registration in United Kingdom

A Sudanese doctor who failed to disclose the fact that he was refused registration in the UK has been found guilty of professional misconduct at a fitness to practise hearing at the Medical Council.

Dr Mohamed Abdelrahman was also found guilty of a contravention of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

These findings will go forward to the next meeting of the council, which will decide on sanctions.

Dr Abdelrahman, who admitted the allegations, came to Ireland after making seven separate applications to register as a doctor in the UK, each of which was refused for language proficiency or probity issues.

Dr Abdelrahman, who is working in obstetrics at Letterkenny General Hospital, has offered to give a number of undertakings to avoid being struck off. He promised not to repeat the alleged behaviour and to consent to being censured, as well as offering to make a donation of up to €5,000 to charity. He also offered to undergo professional competency training to cover ethics and record-keeping.

John Freeman, for Dr Abdulrahman, told the inquiry there were no issues with the competence of his client’s work and no risk to patient safety, and said he was practising without any difficulty in Letterkenny.

He said his client was 22 and a very young doctor at the time of the events. Dr Abdulrahman accepted that he had not been “full and frank” in his engagement with the Irish Medical Council and the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK

The council alleged that when applying to go on the Irish medical register in June 2014, Dr Abdulrahman replied “no” to a question asking if he had ever been refused registration to practice medicine in any other jurisdiction.

He also answered “no” to a similar question when filling out his annual retention application form in June 2015.

It was alleged he failed to tell the Medical Council that the GMC had refused his application for registration in the UK.

The hearing was told he qualified in Khartoum in 2011 and applied to the Medical Council in 2014 for registration in Ireland.

Proficiency test

In 2012, Dr Abdelrahman was refused registration in the UK after the GMC questioned “discrepancies” between the scores he achieved in the IELTS English language proficiency test and the scores submitted to the council.

The GMC asked him to provide proof of his scores but was unhappy with the certificate provided, which was badly damaged and stuck together with Sellotape.

Dr Abdulrahman maintained he was victim of a fraud, but the GMC rejected this and said he had tried to mislead it.

He made a further application for registration with the GMC in 2014 and although he had by then achieved the required scores in the English language proficiency test, his application was refused because of the previous probity issues that had arisen.

Between 2012 and 2014, Dr Abdulrahman applied for a number of NHS jobs and held himself out as being registered. The applications were withdrawn after the hospitals completed due diligence and he never practised as a doctor in the UK.

Expert witness Prof Stephen Lane of Tallaght Hospital said in his opinion Dr Abdulrahman’s conduct was “at the gravest end” of professional misconduct and added that he had concerns over the “recidivistic” nature of his applications to the GMC.

“Someone who has falsely put himself forward and has failed to disclose significant issues is a conduct issue and I would have concerns about the honesty of it,” he said.

Prof Lane said “the elephant in the room” was that a doctor was working in Ireland who had falsified his application for registration. This was a very grave departure from what he considered normal behaviour. However, remediation was always possible.

Mr Freeman said Dr Abelrahman had a bright future in front of him and colleagues who worked with him had provided glowing references

In evidence, Dr Abdelrahman acknowledged he had made mistakes and that his conduct could be considered dishonest.

He said he felt he had done something he would regret for the rest of his life and felt ashamed of it.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times