A U.K. medical tribunal has recommended a six-month suspension for an interventional radiologist in London, Dr. Luke Morgan-Rowe, who admitted that he dishonestly claimed payment for overtime. He now has the right to appeal against the ruling.
The Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service (MPTS) completed its hearing on 2 November. In a decision document posted on its website, the MPTS said the allegation that led to the tribunal dated from 8 June 2012 and 6 February 2013, when Morgan-Rowe was a research fellow in the complex aorta treatment team at the Royal Free London National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust.
Morgan-Rowe currently works as a consultant interventional radiologist at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, and as head of medical education for peripheral vascular health in Western Europe at Medtronic, U.K., according to his LinkedIn site accessed on 7 November.
Initial concerns were raised at the Royal Free in February 2013, and the matter was referred to the NHS Counter Fraud Team. Morgan-Rowe was subsequently arrested and charged with criminal offences of fraud. At the Crown Court trial in 2016, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence and a not-guilty verdict was recorded.
Between 16 September 2013 and 4 December 2015, Morgan-Rowe was under investigation for criminal offences of fraud in connection with the expense claims, but during his work reviews, he knowingly failed to disclose the investigation on four separate occasions, the tribunal heard.
In his witness statement sent to the MPTS in September 2021, Morgan-Rowe admitted the allegation. "I accept that my conduct at the time was dishonest and, in recognition of the seriousness of my actions, I accept that it amounts to misconduct," he wrote.
In his oral evidence, Morgan-Rowe said he claimed the money in advance for the hours he knew he would eventually work. He admitted this was not the normal way to receive payment for work, but it had assisted with his debts at the time. He said it was never his intention to commit fraud.
During cross-examination at last week's tribunal, Morgan-Rowe said he is a different person now and had gained insight into the character traits that caused him to behave recklessly. He said he was in a stable financial position with personal checks and mechanisms in place to avoid repeating his behaviour in the future, for example, not making impulsive decisions.
He said he is involved in medical education work and was keen to continue his practice and maintain his clinical skills. He added that "burying my head in the sand does not serve me" and he had learnt from past mistakes through "honest and open discussion and reflection".
Morgan-Rowe said he was "deeply disappointed in himself" and sorry for his actions and the impact he had had on everyone involved. He said he had "worked hard in the subsequent years to be an exceptional physician, as evidenced in the references received by senior colleagues". He had been "buoyed up and edified by the letters of support and encouragement he had received since the episode of dishonesty and the letters from Lister Hospital."
Morgan-Rowe said he would undertake an ethics and probity course, and he would actively seek out formal mentoring and support. Also, he would continue to develop his wider support network and make it "a priority to be better organised when it came to record keeping."
On behalf of the General Medical Council, Lee Fish, accepted that Morgan-Rowe had expressed genuine remorse and insight, but there had been "two types of dishonesty repeated on multiple occasions". He said there was "a little bit more work to do" and action had to be taken, particularly because no undertakings had been offered in this case. He also noted that a suspension would have a deterrent effect.
Summing up, the tribunal panel noted that as a result of his dishonesty, Morgan-Rowe had gained a financial advantage.
"The dishonesty was persistent and had been sustained over a period of time. Dr. Morgan-Rowe had not stopped his behaviour of his own volition; rather, he stopped the dishonest behaviour when his actions were discovered," noted the decision document. "The damage caused to the profession by submitting fraudulent timesheets on multiple occasions was significant and wide-ranging.
The MPTS concluded that "his conduct fell far below the standards expected of a doctor," and it was "in no doubt that the misconduct in this case was serious professional misconduct."