Heart doctor avoids ban after faking prescriptions and lying to patients

Dr Martin Royle, former consultant cardiologist at St Helens Hospital
Dr Martin Royle, former consultant cardiologist at St Helens Hospital

A former St Helens heart doctor has avoided being struck off after faking prescriptions and lying to his patients about their treatment.

Dr Martin Royle, 45, who was a consultant cardiologist at St Helens Hospital at the time of his misconduct, narrowly escaped suspension following a hearing with the General Medical Council, in which he received a 12-month condition order.

At the tribunal, held in London, members discussed a long list of Dr Royle’s misdemeanours, including a number of incidents in which he chose not to carry out procedures, without informing the patient.

An investigation found that on five occasions Dr Royle had neglected to perform a “ trans-oesophageal echocardiogram” (T-OEs), a procedure which flags up heart defects and underlying problems.

Dr Royle’s brush with the law was also brought under scrutiny, after he received a four-year suspended jail sentence for eight counts of making false prescriptions.

The alleged drug addict pleaded guilty to the offences and three counts of fraud at a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2016.

The tribunal report says: “Dr Royle had written the fraudulent prescriptions using details of colleagues, family members and friends who were unaware of his actions. On a number of occasions Dr Royle had asked junior colleagues to sign fraudulent prescriptions.

“The Tribunal regarded this as a serious abuse of his professional position. The Tribunal has concluded that public confidence in the profession would be severely affected by knowledge of the convictions and the matters which led to them.

“The Tribunal has therefore determined that Dr Royle’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his convictions.”

Members also ruled that Dr Royle had dishonestly carried out private work at least six times while he was on call for the NHS.

He was let go from St Helens Hospital in 2013 and is now employed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales.

Among his conditions, Dr Royle has been banned from making prescriptions and from performing T-OEs.