Bankrupt GP struck off for taking loan


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A Suffolk doctor has been suspended from the medical register after being convicted of accepting a loan from a patient without letting him know he was an undischarged bankrupt.

Dr Michael Debenham, who has previously practised in Ipswich, Hadleigh and Boxford, appeared before a four-day Medical Practitioners Tribunal after receiving a six-month suspended prison sentence and 120 hours of unpaid work following his conviction in September last year.

The tribunal, chaired by Dr Vishal Agrawal, heard that in 2012 Dr Debenham told a patient he was setting up a chain of private practices, had fallen into financial difficulty and owed some ‘unsavoury persons’ a substantial amount of money.

The patient, referred to in the proceedings as Mr A, loaned the GP £8,000 on the understanding he would be paid back in instalments.

When none of the instalments were paid, and a cheque for £1,000 was later rejected, Mr A told his solicitors to recover the loan.

They then discovered the GP had a Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking (BRU) banning him from taking out any loan above £500 without disclosing it to the lender.

Dr Agrawal said: “Mr A stated that, had he known that you were subject to a BRU, he would never have provided you with the loan.”

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The tribunal suspended Dr Debenham from the medical register for six months.

Dr Agrawal said: “Your conviction is a breach of professional trust and certainly a breach of the trust placed in you by Mr A who was, at the time, one of your patients and also your friend.

“Your conviction undermines the trust and confidence placed in the medical profession and the tribunal has determined that your actions would be considered to be deplorable by the public and fellow practitioners.”

The tribunal also heard Dr Debenham had been suspended from the register for 12 months in 2014 after being convicted of altering personal details on NHS prescriptions, intending to make financial gain.

Dr Agrawal said the tribunal was concerned the GP had been absent from medical practice for a number of years but said it wouldn’t rule out him returning to practice in the future. He added a tribunal would review the case before the end of the suspension.