Disciplinary proceedings are taking place against five doctors, four of whom are Asians who were caught issuing false sick notes in a sting operation in the UK. The operation was conducted by newspaper reporters who posed as sick patients, and the doctors may be struck of the medical register altogether.
Anand, a general practitioner based in Gosforth in northeast England, is charged with issuing a false sick note to an undercover Sunday Times reporter, who told him she wanted to take time off work to go on a holiday. Anand, 59, was one of five doctors to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) in London on 12 January 2006 in connection with a Sunday Times investigation in November 2003.
However, there is much support for Anand among the locals. Nearly 300 people signed the petition drawn up by a Gosforth-based organization, the Anglo Asian Friendship Society, where Anand had been giving free treatment for three years.
The petition reads: "We pledge our fullest support for Anand. He has run free clinics for a number of years and we, more than anyone, can testify to his ability and character. He is a man of uncommon moral rectitude, a doctor of unique skill and discretion. In our experience, he is equally committed to serving the emotional and physical needs of patients and strictly upholds the code of professional ethics."
The hearing at the GMC is expected to last for 12 days. The other four doctors facing charges are Gurpinder Singh Saluja (Essex), Abdulaziz Shariff Jamal (Cardiff), Hari Bhajan Singh (Cardiff) and Earl Fitzroy O'Brien (Birmingham). Each of them faces a charge of serious professional misconduct for acting in a manner that was inappropriate, dishonest and an abuse of their position, the GMC's Fitness to Practice Panel was told.
Anand allegedly told reporter Rachel Dobson he would note in his records she was suffering from "any rubbish, it doesn't matter". Saluja allegedly promised the reporter he would give her a sick note if she said she was suffering from "stress or depression or whatever you feel like".