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Doctor faces being struck off after ‘coercing’ elderly patient into gifting £188,000

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A doctor faces being struck off after a tribunal found she had committed a string of infractions by “pulling on the heartstrings” of an elderly patient to receive gifts and cash worth nearly £200,000.

Dr Andrea McFarlane, who is originally from Peterculter, was able to pocket £600 a month from the retired teacher by detailing the financial hardships of her home life between 2008 and 2014.

On July 8, 2011, a payment of £55,000 was made and the 54-year-old admitted receiving a total of £188,000 from the woman.

The GP, who had been going through a divorce, used the cash to pay for household repairs, a birthday present to herself, servicing her car and also petrol to take her sons to rugby matches.

The payments only came to light in 2017 after the patient, now 87, suffered a stroke and was moved to a care home.

Her nephew discovered dozens of thank you cards and letters from Dr McFarlane as he cleared out her house.

The medic has now faced a hearing organised by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.

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The doctor denied claims she received gifts “because of her influence on the patient”.

But expert witness Dr Georgina Brown told the misconduct hearing that Dr Macfarlane “coerced” the pensioner.

Dr Brown said: “In saying how she could not have coped without the money, this was coercing the patient to give money by almost pulling on the heartstrings of the elderly patient.

“In the letter she says ‘without your help, I would not have managed to get a new cooker without difficulties’.”

Dr Macfarlane, who gained her medical degree at Aberdeen University in 1989, was working in Nottinhamshire at the time.

The panel has heard Dr McFarlane met the patient in 2003 while senior partner at The Crown House Surgery in Retford.

The tribunal yesterday tendered its decision on the facts of the case and will consider whether the Aberdeenshire native’s fitness to practice is impaired.

Among the proven allegations were that Dr Macfarlane had attempted to conceal the nature of her relationship with the patient and that she had received a series of gifts which affected the manner of her interaction with the pensioner.

It was found proven that the gifts were issued because the family GP fostered an “inappropriate relationship” with the patient.

The doctor was also found to have received cheque payments of £73,000 and £25,000 between December 2012 and January 2013.

An allegation that the doctor “disclosed confidential information about other patients” is yet to be determined.

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