Suspending 134 family doctors accused of misconduct has reportedly cost the NHS £8m over the last three years.
For example, Haringey in north London spent £1.4m on three GPs, while Newham in east London has spent £1.1m on seven suspended doctors since 2006.
According to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, it can cost up to £900,000 to suspend a doctor for four years on 90% of their salary, which is not uncommon.
This is a “scandalous waste of public money”, and shows that the system of pursuing allegations against doctors is failing, Liberal Democrats health spokesman Norman Lamb has told The Guardian newspaper.
John Canning, of the British Medical Association (BMA), says that even bearing in mind that both sides must have time to prepare their cases “too many cases take too long”.
And says David Stout, director of the Primary Care Trust Network: “Some of the delays are excessive, very costly and benefit nobody.”
GPs charged with misconduct are suspended by their PCT or by the General Medical Council. Trusts must seek approval if suspensions last more than six months.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
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“Incredulous, the BMA needs to get real about its members. Court cases don’t take this long, coroner cases much shorter. The Daily Telegraph needs to get involved to show the public who is dragging their feet” – Carl Curtis, Southwark