|Practitioner:||Dr Dhammika Pradeepa Dassanayake|
|Charge Characteristics:|| Fraud
Attempting to defeat the course of justice
A CAC charged that Dr Dhammika Pradeepa Dassanayake, general practitioner of Christchurch, was convicted by the District Court of the following offences each being an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of 3 months or longer:
and the circumstances of the offending reflect adversely on the doctor's fitness to practice medicine.
The fraud charges (particular 1) related to the doctor claiming general medical services benefits for services which he had not provided. The forgery and attempting to defeat the course of justice charges (particulars 2 and 3) arose from the doctor creating false records purporting to confirm the services for which he had claimed but which had never occurred, and submitting these false records to Health Benefits Ltd.
In the District Court the doctor was sentenced to a total of 21 months imprisonment and ordered to make reparation of $6,000. The Court of Appeal reduced the total effective sentence to 12 months.
The Tribunal considered the subject matter of the charges could be separated into two categories:
The Tribunal found that both categories of charge reflected adversely on the doctor's fitness to practice medicine when considered either separately or cumulatively.
The Tribunal ordered that the doctor's name be removed from the Register. The Tribunal determined that a period of 3 years from the date of the hearing must elapse before the doctor may apply to have his name restored to the Register. At that time, factors which may be considered would be, the doctor's insight into his offending, his behaviour since erasure and objective evidence that he had kept up to date with developments in medical practice.
At the doctor's request his name was removed from the Register prior to the hearing, on 15 July 1998. The Tribunal held that such removal does not prevent the continuation of the disciplinary proceedings. The Tribunal considered that there were consequences flowing from the making of a removal order that went beyond removal from the Register on request.
The Tribunal (by majority) ordered that the doctor pay 40% of the costs of the hearing and inquiry.