Pelka Doctor Disciplinary Hearing

A doctor should have been ``more proactive'' when concerns were raised about four-year-old Daniel Pelka more than a month before he was killed, a disciplinary panel heard.

Daniel Pelka was beaten and left to die after six months of starvation and cruelty at the hands of his mother Magdelena Luczak and her partner Mariusz Krezolek at their home in Coventry.

The Polish couple were sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2013 after they were convicted of murdering Daniel, who was left to die after suffering a fatal head injury in March 2012.

Today Daniel's GP, Dr Mohammad Pathan, appeared before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) to face allegations that his fitness to practise is impaired.

The panel sitting in Manchester heard how Dr Pathan was telephoned by Daniel's deputy headteacher regarding the little boy's weight loss, his appearance and that he was stealing food.

The General Medical Council, which is bringing the case, alleges that following the call on January 25 2012, Dr Pathan failed to act adequately and attach sufficient weight to the information that he was provided with by Little Heath Primary School teacher Gillian Mulhall.

The panel was told Mrs Mulhall had made the ``unusual step'' of phoning the GP and had even waited on the line for 10 minutes in order to address her concerns about Daniel, referred to in the hearing as Patient A .

Mrs Mulhall told Dr Pathan that the boy had been taking food and was soiling himself at home.

But Dr Pathan's advice had been for her to request that his mother contact the surgery and ``did not reflect an urgency'' to examine and assess the youngster, an MPTS panel heard.

However, the boy's mother did not make an appointment with the surgery after being approached by the teacher and the boy was not seen.

Dr Pathan said he did not look at the boy's mother's records because he did not suspect neglect or abuse and maintains he had no reason to do so, it was said.

Mr Kevin Slack, representing the GMC, said: ``It is the GMC's case that Dr Pathan ought to have acted more proactively than he did, the contents of Patient A's (Daniel) medical record ought to have led him to find out who Patient A's mother was.

``The GMC say he would have seen entries relating to her history of depression, she and her partner misused alcohol and would have also seen that Patient A had been exposed to domestic violence at home.

``Had he taken these into account, it is the GMC's case that the doctor should have acted much more proactively and should have arranged to see him in 24-48 hours.''

He added that had this consultation not taken place then it should have escalated Dr Pathan's concerns with the local safeguarding lead, social services or by liaising with the health visitor, all of which it is alleged he failed to do.

It is not alleged that Dr Pathan's failings were causative of Daniel's death, but Mr Slack said, ``rather that his sad death forms part of a background to alleged failings in this case''.

Expert witness for the GMC, Dr Leonard Peter, said Dr Pathan had failed to act responsively to the telephone call, despite the associated features of the mother's medical records.

In a statement read to the panel Dr Peter said that Dr Pathan had demonstrated ``lower than what was expected of a general practitioner'' and criticised the notes made during the phone call.

He added that it was ``very rare'' for a teacher to call the doctor herself.

Dr Peter added: ``It is very rare for a teacher to contact a general practitioner and wait on the line for 10 minutes. Any reasonable practitioner receiving such a call would have wanted to examine the patient.

``The general practitioner is in the unique position of seeing the whole picture. He should have realised that the features added up to a child who was at significant risk.''

Dr Pathan admits that he failed to record adequate details of the information provided during the phone call and that he failed to formulate an action plan to ensure appropriate follow up of the concerns.

But he denies his fitness to practise is impaired.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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