Dr Ashleigh Williams, pictured leaving the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester with her partner, has escaped with a written warning after faking a prescription
A ‘high-flying’ trainee doctor who faced career ruin after she faked a prescription in an attempt to get herself antibiotics for an ’embarrassing’ medical problem has escaped with a written warning.
Dr Ashleigh Williams, 28, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct after she used a colleague’s name to procure Amoxicillin tablets.
The GP trainee who works at Burnley General Hospital said the tablets were for her younger sister.
She was said to be ’embarrassed’ because of a medical problem she needed the prescription for.
But she was caught out after the pharmacist became suspicious and contacted the prescribing doctor who could not recall signing off the prescription.
The antibiotic is often used for the treatment of a number of bacterial infections.
Health chiefs investigated the incident but declined to take further action against Williams who was described by colleagues as a ‘high-flyer’ and a ‘model doctor.’
She was subsequently advised to report herself to the General Medical Council and was ordered to face a disciplinary hearing.
The GP trainee who works at Burnley General Hospital said the Amoxicillin tablets were for her younger sister
She then told the pharmacist her colleague was the prescribing doctor even though they weren’t aware of the prescription
At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, Dr Williams, who is due to complete her training in August, was criticised for her dishonesty but a disciplinary panel said her fitness to practise medicine was not impaired.
It instead imposed a warning on the doctor’s record saying she has to be ‘honest and trustworthy in all communications with colleagues and patients.’
She has since completed what was described as a ‘Significant Event Analysis’ of the incident.
Tribunal chair Catherine Hartley said: ‘Dr Williams’s dishonest conduct was a clear breach of principles relating to probity and was an example of a clearly inappropriate attempt to self-prescribe.
At a tribunal in Manchester, Dr Williams was found guilty of professional misconduct but they said it did not impair her ability to treat patients
‘However the tribunal was fully satisfied that Dr Williams is a highly competent and responsible clinician who presents no risk to the health, safety and well-being of the public.
‘Her misconduct was an isolated incident which took place over a short period of time and the tribunal distinguished her misconduct from dishonesty which could impact on patient care or was for financial or other personal gain.
‘None of the evidence suggests that Dr Williams is an inherently dishonest doctor.’
The incident occurred on March 26 last year after Dr Williams, who was working in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at the hospital, attended a pharmacy and falsely saying her younger sister needed more antibiotics as she had lost them.
Ceri Widdett, a lawyer for the General Medical Council said: ‘She signed the form with her own signature and wrote her colleague’s name without informing her and then took the prescription to the out-patient pharmacy.
‘When questioned about it by the pharmacist, she failed to inform the pharmacist that they were in fact for herself and she said it was for her sister who had lost her antibiotics.
‘She says she had written the prescription with her details, her date of birth and then she just thought of the first person who came into her head who was the on-call doctor whom she had had no contact with for about a year and she signed the prescription with her own signature.
Dr Williams was described as a ‘model doctor who was reliable, efficient and good with patients’
‘She says: “As I was sat waiting I felt guilty and on edge I then realised the implications.”
‘The pharmacist then called her over where they had a brief conversation in which the pharmacist said she had spoken to the doctor who didn’t recall prescribing the antibiotics.’
The hospital carried out an internal inquiry but concluded Williams had realised her mistake and it was a ‘momentary lapse of judgement’.
Dr Williams wept at the hearing and admitted: ‘I did something really stupid but I didn’t believe that at the time.
‘I just thought it was a prescription for antibiotics but it has had a massive impact on myself and my confidence and I think it has been a huge strain on my relationship.
‘It was completely out of character – I don’t know what was going through my head at the time.
‘The biggest thing was lying about it as well. I shouldn’t have done that – there are so many different ways I could have dealt with it.
‘I have just tried to make up for it since. I understand that the prescribing doctor is affected too – I have known her for quite a period of time I have worked with her.
‘It must be really difficult for her to be able to trust me again as a doctor. I have lost her trust.
‘I have tried to be very open with everyone, I have done the reading and booked onto courses about risk, apologising, learned that if you lie that has a knock on effect. I realised I have to be open and honest.
‘I have tried as best I could I can prove I’m an honest trustworthy doctor..’
In a statement, the colleague implicated by Dr Williams said she was a ‘model doctor who was reliable, efficient and good with patients’ and added: ‘I never had any concerns about Dr Williams before and I have not had any concerns since.
‘Dr Williams remains a very professional doctor.’
Defence lawyer Andrew Hockton said: ‘It was an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career and the act itself was at the lower end of the spectrum for dishonesty.
‘She has made full admissions, clearly recognises what she did wrong, has apologised and engaged in suitable and appropriate remediation.
‘It would be difficult to think of what more she could have done to address matters.’