An NHS report has disclosed that a doctor in charge of out-of-hours care for a million patients in London ran the service from his home in Norfolk and often took three hours to return urgent calls. Dr Savi Sondhi was guilty of a “shocking series of failings” that involved letting down his patients, duping colleagues and withdrawing £100,000 without permission.
Dr Sondhi, who had his own practice in Croydon, was responsible for out-of-hours care for a large part of south-west London through the independent company Croydoc. The report, carried out by NHS South West London, found that he repeatedly failed to answer his telephone when on call and took between 1 1/2 and 3 hours to respond to urgent requests for help. The target is 20 minutes.
As many as 114 calls were logged to his phone each night, but he repeatedly cancelled shifts without warning. In one case, a patient who was kept waiting 12 hours for treatment died later that day. When a complaint was made, the company said that it couldn’t cope with demand.
Dr Sondhi, who has since been suspended from practising by the General Medical Council, and declared bankrupt, controlled Croydoc in 2009 using a panel of local GPs. At one point he was chairman, medical director, operations director and financial director of the company.
The report claims that the doctor often claimed payment for work he didn’t do, withdrawing a total of £100,000 without authority.
The Croydoc board failed to take action and commissioning primary care trusts failed to monitor the contract with the company properly. Dave Finch, joint medical director of NHS South West, said: “This report reveals a shocking series of failings by one GP, who apparently managed to dupe his professional colleagues whilst letting down his patients and claimed payment for work he did not do.”
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Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 26 January 2012
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