Reckless doctor suspended for telling suicidal patient ‘go home and kill yourself’… and how to Google methods

A family doctor has been suspended from practicing after a tribunal heard that he told a suicidal patient to ‘jolly well’ kill herself during a row at his surgery.

After a four day fitness to practice hearing in Manchester, Dr Aran Singhal has been suspended for three months after a panel found his behaviour was ‘unacceptable’.

During the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester the woman in her 30’s had warned Dr Singhal she was contemplating suicide out of fear after learning she was due to give evidence as a witness in a rape trial.

But the 65-year old medic retorted: ‘you can go and jolly well do it now’ and added: ‘if you don’t know how to do it, it’s on the internet.’

The GP, who worked at the Hillside Road surgery in Huyton, Liverpool, was also said to have told the woman she was a ‘disgrace to be a patient’ and refused to give her a sick note excusing her from appearing in court on health grounds – unless she paid him a consultancy fee.

He ended up facing a disciplinary hearing after discovering the woman known as Patient A had secretly taped their heated conversation on a mobile phone hidden in her pocket.

At the hearing, the woman who cannot be named said: “I was absolutely shocked and couldn’t believe what he was saying to me.

“I didn’t shout but I did say to people in the waiting room, ‘I can’t believe what he has just said, he has told me to go and kill myself’.

“I was sobbing. I was upset. I couldn’t breathe and I was saying I can’t believe the doctor has told me to kill myself when I was feeling suicidal’.

”I thought at first I didn’t hear it. I thought ‘did I hear that right?’ But I knew I heard him saying it. My mind just wandered off with depression.”

The hearing was told the incidents took place over two consultations in 2011 after the woman known as Patient A registered with Singhal’s surgery. She had various mental health issues and suffered with skin problems and asthma.

Initially the woman went to see Dr Singhal to say she was feeling suicidal and also said that her anti-depressant medication wasn’t working.

It was claimed the GP told her: ‘you should go home and kill yourself’. A further consultation was booked in December 2011 after Patient A was asked to give evidence in the rape trial and she was so fearful of testifying she asked for the sick note.

She then decided to secretly record the meeting which was played to a fitness to practise panel.

Panel chair Eileen Carr ruled Dr Singhal’s behaviour was ‘totally unacceptable’ but said it was likely he did not take the suicide threat seriously.

She said: “Dr Singhal’s conduct constitutes a serious departure from the standards expected. Dr Singhal’s comments to a patient, with a history of mental health concerns, were totally unacceptable and inappropriate.

“He failed to communicate effectively with her and to treat her with dignity and respect.”

The panel inferred from all the evidence that Patient A may have been a difficult patient. It took note of the fact that Dr Singhal was working under difficult circumstances in a deprived area and of the testimonials that he was hard working, accessible, empathetic and provided excellent care to his patients.

Nonetheless, the panel is concerned that Dr Singhal’s comments during his consultation with Patient A put at risk the relationship of trust that he had with her. If repeated, comments such as those, could potentially put vulnerable patients at risk of harm.

Earlier the woman had told the hearing: “At the time I was feeling really depressed and it wasn’t until I got home that I thought ‘I’m sure he told me to go and kill myself when he patted me’. But I was feeling really bad. I kept thinking ‘he did say it to me, he did say it to me’.

“Then a friend of mine said she had been raped on a night. She had been speaking to me an hour before the rape and was supposed to get a taxi with me but I ended up going home alone. That day she rang me and said she had been raped and the police wanted to speak to me because I had been with her previously.

“The police came and asked me questions and said I had to go to court as a witness. But then I found out that the boy who allegedly raped her, his brother lived three doors away from me and they’re not a good family. I started to get scared that if they saw me in court they would make trouble for me.

“I started worrying and panicking and thought they would wait for me and get me so I told the police I didn’t want to go to court because it was making me feel more depressed so they asked me to get a doctor’s note so I didn’t have to appear.”

Asked why she had taped the second consultation she said: “I was feeling very suicidal – I was feeling that I preferred to be dead because of the fear.”  

“I knew he had said it [kill yourself] to me previously. I thought he might say it again. I said to myself ‘at least I would know this time’.

“What I can presume is he wanted money for the note and because I didn’t have the money he got angry.  Police told me if I didn’t get the note I would get subpoenaed to court. They said the judge would make me go. This was making me feel worse.”

She denied making threats to the doctor during the consultation and added:  “I got up and walked out. When I left I told people in the waiting room ‘he has told me to kill myself’.”

Singhal was accused of failing to include a reference to the woman’s expression of suicidal intent in her patient notes and even added a false entry claiming she had threatened to kill him, it was claimed.

Story via Cavendish Press 

Main image courtesy of Thatsabigif, with thanks 

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