Top doctor claimed £47,500 for work at London hospital despite never doing any of it
A top doctor has been struck off after defrauding the NHS of £47,500. The superintendent radiographer admitted to countless lies that saw him rake in thousands of pounds for work that he hadn't done.
Ashir Patel claimed money for reviewing over 20,000 patient images and 'being on call', when really he wasn't working and, instead, was setting up a personal business on Harley Street while at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Patel was struck off and not allowed to work as a registered doctor in a recent decision by the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTC) on July 27. He had previously plead guilty back in 2019 to two counts of dishonestly making false representations to make a gain. After pleading guilty at Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court he was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently, suspended for 24 months.
Following his suspended sentence ending and an investigation by hospital fraud officers, he had a hearing to determine whether he should be allowed to practice as a radiographer. During this review, he was labelled 'dishonest' by HCPTS and they barred him from practicing as a doctor ever again. Overall, Patel lies when he said that he was on call during two weekends and lied that he had looked at over 20,489 images to look for results of x-rays.
The HCPTS released more information about his hearing. They described Patel's actions as "serious, persistent and escalating dishonesty, which continued for a significant period of time". They added: "The panel noted the Registrant’s undated statement to the panel, in which he gives explanations of feeling out of his depth, and feeling overwhelmed with work, although he accepts dishonesty.
"However, that statement demonstrates limited insight, as explained in the Panel’s decision on impairment of fitness to practice. For example, his remorse centres primarily on the effect upon himself and his family. Although there is some recognition of the detrimental effect on his colleagues and the reputation of the Trust, there is little recognition of the likely impact of his dishonest behaviour on hospital services and the knock-on effect to patients.
"In addition, that statement does not refer to the claims for the on-call work which he did not do. That is significant, because, in the Panel’s view, the claims for on-call work were claims to which could not be applied the explanation, which he had relied upon in respect of the claims for the reporting work, that he was struggling to keep up with his work and that a backlog built up. The on-call work was work for which he put himself on the rota, did not undertake, but for which he claimed £3,500."
The panel also said that Patel continued being dishonest despite ample opportunity to stop doing so. He only stopped when an investigation was launched after colleagues got suspicious and he was reported. Among his lies were that he had looked over x-ray images.
He claimed money for over 20,000 reports on images that he did not look at. By not looking at these, the patients were delayed in receiving results and the HCPTS said this gave 'rise to an unwarranted risk of harm to patients'. He was paid per report and received £3 for tens of thousands of images that he didn't look at. Patel gained £44,535.33, along with another £3,500 for his on-call work. This figure includes money taken away via tax, national insurance, and pension contributions, paid by the NHS trust.
The HCTPS continued and said: "Delays in reporting on images are likely to result in delays in diagnosis, as well as subsequent clinical care and treatment, which has the potential to cause harm. Delays in diagnosis also have the potential to cause patients anxiety and stress."
Patel was in the process of setting up a radiology business on Harley Street. His partner gave a character statement in court. He will no longer be able to continue with this as his name has been erased from the register of qualified doctors as a result of the HCPTS hearing.
As well as being struck off, on August 1, 2019, Patel was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently, suspended for 24 months. He was also ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge, as well as a contribution towards the prosecution’s costs in the sum of £1,200, he also paid the £47,500 back to the NHS.