A doctor caught selling sick-leave certificates to people who are not ill has been banned from working in the UAE. The doctor, a general practitioner, was blacklisted by the Ministry of Health's medical licences committee and the case sent to the public prosecutor, said Dr Amin al Amiri, the executive director of medical practices and licences at the ministry.
Dr al Amiri said the doctor had been writing up to 150 notes a month "for several months, at least". "This is very wrong. As doctors, we have a humanitarian message first of all, and ethics that we are supposed to abide by. Our work in human medicine has to be done in complete transparency and honesty and faith; if we betray that faith, we are no longer ethical doctors," he said. "This doctor will not be allowed to work in any of the Gulf countries, for the rest of his life," said Dr al Amiri, who is also acting chairman of the committee.
He declined to say how much the doctor was charging for sick notes, or in which emirate he practised, although the ministry is responsible for health care only in the northern emirates. "It will be of no benefit to society to say how much the doctor was charging; it would cause disruption and what he was doing is bribery," he said. "It is enough that he has been caught and stopped." The ministry sent an undercover "patient" to visit the doctor after noticing that an abnormal amount of sick leave certificates were being written for patients in one particular area.
"We monitor the number of vacations granted to employees for health reasons and we decided to investigate after noticing that an enormous number of letters were being written by the same doctor," said Dr al Amiri. The undercover patient told the doctor that he was not really sick, but had been told by a colleague that he could ask for a sick note, at a price. He also asked for sick leave for a friend. The doctor confirmed that this was correct, and wrote out two sick-leave certificates, one of them for a person he had never met.
The medical licences committee has also suspended three other doctors for "violating their licence conditions", according to a statement released by the ministry yesterday. One doctor, described as a "laser specialist" running a private medical centre, was suspended after the committee received several complaints. The doctor's licence has been suspended temporarily pending an investigation into whether he is violating the licence conditions.
The second doctor, a dentist specialist, was suspended after the committee received reports from their inspection department that he was always absent and never available in his clinic. The third doctor, an orthodontist, was suspended for reasons unknown. Dr al Amiri said that when investigations into the complaints were complete, the doctors may have their licences returned and be allowed to work.