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Former Chesterfield doctor 'erased' from medical register

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020 5:58pm

By Eddie Bisknell- Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

A former Chesterfield GP who failed to record that a patient claimed she was escaping from a paedophile ring has been “erased” from the medical register.

Dr Laszlo Szabo also failed to detect a serious condition which later killed a patient and also prescribed medicine he should not have to a drug-using patient.

His behaviour amounted to “serious misconduct” and posed a “risk to patient safety”, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service has now ruled.

Dr Szabo’s misconduct relates to three incidents 10 months apart in 2014 and 2015, two of which occurred while he was a locum GP for the then Grange Family Health Centre in Stubbing Road, Chesterfield.

The remaining incident appears to have occurred while Dr Szabo had been working in the Calderdale and Huddersfield area.

In December 2014, Dr Szabo, working as an out-of-hours GP, had visited the home of a 60-year-old woman  – Patient A – and diagnosed her with a “urinary tract infection and an upper respiratory infection turning to bronchitis”.

A day later, Patient A was admitted to hospital after collapsing at home and she died shortly after from an upper gastrointestinal bleed.

Patient B, a woman in her early 30s – who had a history of drug misuse – visited the Grange Family Health Centre in Chesterfield in September 2015.

She told Dr Szabo that she was losing weight, was confused and could not eat or sleep.

Dr Szabo found recent needle marks on Patient B’s thigh – but the patient denied drug abuse or that she was under the influence of drugs during the examination.

He prescribed the patient diazepam and temazepam.

However, the pharmacist refused to issue the prescription after patient B vomited in the chemist and “appeared to be under the influence of medication”, which she denied.

While working at the Chesterfield centre, also in September 2015, Dr Szabo spoke to a woman in her early 20s – Patient C.

He recorded that due to previous abuses Patient C was constantly depressed.

Dr Szabo also reported that Patient C had no recent tendency to self-harm and had been prescribed several antidepressants which patient C had found to be ineffective.

He issued Patient C with prescriptions for diazepam and a new antidepressant.

Later that day, a fellow GP at the centre, run by Royal Primary Care, asked Dr Szabo about the patients he had seen that day.

He told his colleague that Patient C had revealed that she had escaped from a paedophile ring which was still active, and that some girls had been left behind in the paedophile ring. Patient C was anxious that they would be punished if she were to reveal details of the ring.

Dr Szabo had not raised safeguarding concerns as a result of Patient C’s testimony.

A 2018 tribunal hearing suspended Dr Szabo for a year as a result of these three incidents after the General Medical Council brought his case forward.

It had said, in relation to patients A and B that Dr Szabo’s actions “fell seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent GP, and that his failures placed the patients at severe risk of harm and constituted serious misconduct”.

In connection to Patient C, it found: “Dr Szabo’s failure to record any of the safeguarding concerns arising from the issues raised by Patient C to be a wilful disregard of his clinical responsibilities and determined that this failure constituted serious misconduct.”

But it found that the 10-month string of incidents was a small part of a long career without any previous issues.

A further tribunal in 2019 reviewed Dr Szabo’s case and chose to suspend him for a further year after there was no evidence he had taken actions or steps to improve his “level of insight”.

At this month’s hearing, the tribunal again was told that no further evidence was provided by Dr Szabo and he had not responded to approaches from the GMC since April 2018.

A report written by Anya Lewis, tribunal chairman, said: “The tribunal was concerned by Dr Szabo’s persistent refusal to engage fully with his regulator and by his refusal to attempt to remediate his misconduct.

“The tribunal concluded that his actions are demonstrative of a persistent lack of insight into the seriousness of his actions and the previous tribunals’ findings.

“The tribunal determined that there is no prospect of any change in Dr Szabo’s attitude or insight into his misconduct with a further period of suspension.

“The tribunal noted that Dr Szabo is aware of the potential sanction and yet he has still failed to provide any meaningful remediation.

“As such, the tribunal concluded that erasure is the only appropriate and proportionate sanction that can fulfil its duty to the overarching objective.”

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees what is now called Grandwood Family Health Centre, was approached for comment.

It did not oversee the centre at the time of Dr Szabo’s work there.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “In 2015 Dr Szabo undertook less than a handful of shifts as an agency locum GP at the Grange in Chesterfield, a number of years before Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust managed this GP and primary care service.

“All agencies have an obligation to act when serious concerns are raised about the conduct of a medical practitioner and in this case they were appropriately dealt with – as we would have expected.

“The sanctions taken by the tribunal reflect the need to protect patients and the wider public interest at all times and to maintain proper professional standards.”

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