A DOCTOR who was found to have serious failings in his dealings with four patients in Bolton has been suspended for eight months.

Bosses at the Beehive Surgery in Great Lever had raised concerns about the alleged failings of Dr Simon Caswell, one of the partners there, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service was told.

And a Manchester hearing has now ruled his fitness to practice has been impaired over various medication and treatment errors between January 2016 and February 2017.

Previously he has served a three-month ban for prescribing his own wife, Patricia, morphine sulphate for pain relief.

He was also disciplined by the former General Medical Council for treating another relative with opiates, when he was not supposed to be given those kind of drugs. His own GP was also unaware of the extra treatment.

In the latest case, one charged found proved was Dr Caswell had increased the dosage of a fentanyl patch for patient from 50 to 100mg.

An expert witness, Dr Richard Harker, said a "reasonably competent GP" would only have increased the dosage by 25mg, as any more would have exposed the patient to opiate toxicity.

The hearing was told Dr Caswell also prescribed sodium valproate to a female patient, despite official advice warning against giving the medication to women of child bearing age.

He accepted he was unaware of the recommendation, and he had also not made an appropriate referral to a psychiatrist before taking the decision. He was also pulled up for interfering with the patient's treatment plan.

Dr Caswell was also found to have failed to refer a third patient for urgent medical treatment, even though his haemoglobin levels were half the expected normal level, and neglected to stop his aspirin prescription. But the MPTS panel accepted the same patient had not informed him of chest pains, around the same time.

In a fourth case, Dr Caswell was said to have trebled the dosage of a morphine-based medication for a patient, without a proper explanation, again running the risk of causing opiate toxicity. This was also contrary to official prescribing advice. But various record-keeping allegations were found not proved.

Dr Caswell told the hearing it was not always possible to remember every guideline at each consultation especially given the time pressures of general practice.

He said, even though he is not currently working as a GP, he had sought to keep his knowledge and skill levels up-to-date.

Ruling that Dr Caswell's fitness to practice was impaired, MPTS panel chairman Julia Oakford said: "Dr Caswell has accepted that he could have done things better in some instances, and he agreed with Dr Harker on a number of occasions throughout the hearing.

"However,the tribunal was of the view Dr Caswell’s insight was not fully developed. It considered he appeared to sometimes be overly focussed on the problems he had experienced with individuals at Beehive Surgery, rather than the potential impact of his own actions upon patients."