Two medical insurers have struck off a gynaecologist from their approved list, for dishonestly submitting “exaggerated” invoices indicating he had performed more surgery than he actually had.
The General Medical Council’s (GMC) professional conduct committee heard how gynaecologist Christopher John Hutchins submitted three invoices to Axa PPP healthcare regarding three patients, and between August 1992 and October 2000 Hutchins submitted 46 invoices to Norwich Union Healthcare regarding six patients.
But the invoices did not reflect accurately the procedures he had actually carried out on these patients and consequently he was not entitled to the fees claimed.
He had exaggerated the treatment he had provided or had submitted invoices for treatment not provided at all.
The GMC committee also heard how he ‘unbundled’ (which is the practice of breaking a single service into its constituent parts and making additional charges for these parts as if they were separate and additional services) certain procedures so he could make additional charges.
Hutchins, who worked at the Nuneaton private hospital, informed the general practitioner by letter of the correct surgical procedure he had carried out.
The committee concluded that Hutchins’ actions were dishonest and an abuse of his professional position and has been concerned that his actions failed to comply with the basic principles of the Council’s publication Good Medical Practice, October 1995 and July 1998, which makes it clear that doctors must be:
honest and trustworthy;
honest in financial and commercial matters relating to their work;
must not defraud patients or the organisation they work for;
must not abuse their professional position.
The committee said it was concerned that the events took place over a prolonged period of time.
Axa PPP healthcare wrote to Hutchins and received an unsatisfactory explanation for the anomalies. As a result, it wrote to the GMC in May 2001, explaining concerns and asking the organisation to look into the matter.
Norwich Union Healthcare’s concerns centred on the appropriateness of Hutchins’ description of services when billing Norwich Union Healthcare and the amounts of money paid to him as a result.
A statement issued by the insurer said: “We have been pursuing Mr Hutchins for repayment of sums we believe have been billed for by him incorrectly. Advice from the GMC was that this did not directly bear on their investigation. We received a sum of £35,000 from Mr Hutchins representing an agreed settlement of the amount billed by him. He did not admit liability to any of the allegations made against him.
“At all times, we have endeavoured to act in such a way as to protect our customers, and we are pleased that our actions have been backed by the GMC inquiry.”