Rotorua GP suspended for two months

By Katie Holland -

A Rotorua GP has been formally censured and suspended from practising for two months following a dishonesty conviction.

Dr Peter Jacob Arnold Adams pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court in February last year to attempting to obtain cash by deception and was convicted and ordered to pay $500 costs. In January 2012 he had made a false travel insurance claim for items allegedly lost or stolen on an overseas flight, including two rings valued at around $4500.

The New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal recently released its decision finding Dr Adams' conviction reflected adversely on his fitness to practise as a doctor.

It said health practitioners had a "wider professional obligation to act ethically, honestly and lawfully in accordance with the standards of professional conduct expected of the medical profession".

The tribunal ordered Dr Adams be censured and his registration suspended for two months, to take effect one month from the date of the judgment.

He was also ordered to pay $7720 costs.

Conditions were also imposed around Dr Adams' return to work. For a period of three years he must tell any employers of the outcome of the charge, may not have any financial interest or management role in a medical practice nor go into sole practice for a period of two years.

He must also regularly meet a clinician to "discuss work-life balance", the tribunal ordered.

The tribunal said there was no issue with Dr Adams' general competence as a doctor and character references it received had expressed the view the insurance fraud was out of character. The conviction did not impact patient safety, it said.

Dr Adams had been found bankrupt in December 2009 and was discharged from bankruptcy three years later.

The tribunal said the fact the offending was against an insurance company was an aggravating feature as insurers "rely upon the honesty and integrity of medical practitioners" and a false claim undermined that professional relationship.

The tribunal suppressed several details, including details of Dr Adams' personal and financial circumstances and the name of the medical centre where he worked. However it denied Dr Adams' application for name suppression.

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