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Drug Shame Doc in Phony Patient Scam

8 May 2011

Hooked GP faked prescriptions to hide double life

A doctor invented ghost patients to write fictitious prescriptions for powerful opiates to feed his own habit.

Dr Morris Anderson, 58 was an outwardly respectable, family GP who secretly led a double life as a drug addict.

The medic prescribed dihydrocodeine, a heroin-like substance, and the anti-histamine cyclizine by using fake identities.

The Edinburgh University graduate also used his wife's maiden surname as one of the phony patients.

Anderson worked for NHS Lothian's out-of-hours services and treated patients at St John's hospital in Livingston, West Lothian.

He carried out the scam to obtain prescription drugs by filling in false patient names between September 28, 2008, and August 10, 2010.

He took false prescriptions to pharmacies at Morrisons supermarket and Boots in Livingston and a chemist shop in East Calder.

Dihydrocodeine gives a relaxing and euphoric high when taken in higher than therapeutic doses.

Cyclizine – commonly marketed as Valoid – gives a feeling of intense exhilaration when injected.

The court was told that Anderson had suffered from clinical depression for more than five years and had been treated by a psychiatrist.

In addition, he had been under stress because a close relative had been suffering from terminal cancer.

His prescription scam was unveiled when a pharmacist became suspicious about the fake patient IDs and contacted NHS fraud investigators.

Anderson, of Livingston, was fined £1000 at the town's sheriff court after pleading guilty to obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.

He was suspended from his job as an out-of-hours doctor with NHS Lothian when the offence came to light.

It is believed he is still employed by the local health board and receiving half pay of around £35,000 a year.

In March, the General Medical Council imposed 11 conditions on his practising certificate, including a ban on prescribing drugs for himself or his family and requiring him to apply for GMC approval before accepting a job. He now faces being struck off.

NHS counter-fraud spokesman Maggie Worsfold said: "Morris Anderson is a doctor who blatantly abused his position of trust to prescribe himself prescription drugs using fictitious patient identities.

Any fraud committed within, or against, the NHS is unacceptable because it diverts funds from patient care and services.

"We will continue to work with all NHS organisations to proactively seek out fraudsters to protect Scotland"s NHS."

Alan Boyter, of NHS Lothian, said: "Now the court case is concluded we're moving forward to deal with the issue in respect of this employee.

"The employee is suspended from duty.

"It would not be appropriate to make any further comment on the matter."

The GMC last night declined to comment.

All text and photography courtesy of Sunday Mail