Lancaster mental health doctor who slept on the job is struck off

One of the occasions when Dr Chopra fell asleep on the job was during a teaching session at Ridge Lea  in Lancaster.
One of the occasions when Dr Chopra fell asleep on the job was during a teaching session at Ridge Lea in Lancaster.
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A doctor has been struck off after repeatedly falling asleep on the job.

Meenakshi Chopra, who worked as a psychiatric doctor in Lancaster, was discovered sleeping on duty at least nine times between 2009 and 2014.

Dr Chopra was also found to have conducted personal business at work and failed to attend agreed appointments.

A tribunal found that her “misconduct posed a potential risk of harm to patients”.

Some of her other breaches were described as “misleading” and “dishonest”.

Dr Chopra fell asleep during a training session at Lancaster House, a teaching session at Ridge Lea hospital and during a Mental Health Act review tribunal, as well as on several occasions at the DeVitre House health centre on Ashton Road.

The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal also found she had done out of hours on-call work without taking the required legal rest periods between shifts, despite being warned by bosses many times.

She was also not fit to do this work due to being found sleeping on the job, and had also agreed not do on-call shifts during the week or on Sundays.

Dr Chopra also sent personal emails and printed personal documents at work, placed unstamped personal letters in her work outgoing mail tray to avoid paying for postage, and had a personal meeting during work hours without permission.

Her personal emails were about a legal dispute relating to property in India, her business as a local landlord, her husband’s private practice and her daughter’s wedding.

In December 2013, Dr Chopra also failed to attend a nursing home to carry out an urgent assessment on a patient and in February 2014 failed to attend a home visit at an agreed time.

She also falsely completed colleague feedback forms on her own work appraisal.

In making its decision, the tribunal took into account Dr Chopra’s previous good character, that she had worked as a doctor for many years with no reported clinical issues, and that she had made expressions of regret and apology during the hearing.

“Your misconduct ranged in type, was sometimes repeated, and occurred over a long period of time, despite your assurances that it would cease,” said Paul Moulder, chairman of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

“You put your own interests before the interests of patients. You blamed others for your actions...there is no evidence of remediation beyond your assertion that you will not do it again.”

Dr Chopra, who was placed on 28-day suspension ahead of being struck off from the medical register, qualified 41 years ago at the University of Delhi.

She was employed as an associate specialist doctor in psychiatry by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust from 2008 to 2014.

A spokesperson at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust sets very high standards for all of its employees in terms of conduct and professional standards, therefore when the allegations against Dr Chopra were made an internal investigation was undertaken, which is standard Trust protocol. Following this process, Dr Chopra was dismissed from the Trust in July 2014 and the matter was referred to her professional body for further investigation.”