….and all the sinners saints.
Yup, I love that Stones song too. Arguably one of the best rock bands ever, The Rolling Stones came from London which is where the doctor on my mind practiced his career in oncology at The Royal Marsden and then St Bartholomew’s Hospitals. Read more about the impressive resume here, but wait a minute, too God to be true?
Yes, God, not good. This oncologist was known around the world and nicknamed “God” because of his ground-breaking work. He was found “guilty by a medical tribunal of providing inappropriate treatment to dying patients.” A whistleblower sent a dossier which contained allegations that he was prescribing expensive cancer medication beyond the remit of its license as well as having a ‘gung ho’ attitude to patient care.
We asked Dr. Simon Peck, a physician who specializes in the investigation of Fraud Waste and Abuse in Domestic and International Health Funds, and he shared the following:
“Professor Stebbing was considered to be possibly the top oncologist in the UK and treated many celebrities – the press called him Professor Hope. However I began to have concerns about claims we were seeing.
As head of the investigations team of a major health insurer I asked for him to be suspended from their recognized provider list and also made a report to the regulators. I did not know at the time that others had concerns as well including within his own hospital.
Whilst my company supported the decision, outside, this decision was greeted with disbelief. I was subject to many complaints some of an unpleasant nature after my contact details were made public by someone. I also received a notice of legal action against me personally but it did not proceed.
It was a great relief to be vindicated by the tribunal.”
We often look at the differences in healthcare fraud waste and abuse in the US vs the UK and we see nuances regarding how the schemes are executed. A while ago, our team at Advize had a movie night and we watched BBC One’s Fraud Squad NHS, which showed NHS investigators track down healthcare criminals. One episode showed a hospital worker who had stolen vital surgical equipment worth over £1 million to sell online, while another showed a hospital cashier stealing money meant for patients and putting it in her own bank account. We typically see these financial frauds here and across the pond, but rarely do we see a proven inappropriate treatment case. There have been issues with oncologists in the US of which the most infamous is Faidh Fatah, who was giving cancer treatments to misdiagnosed patients. He pleaded guilty to 13 counts of Medicare fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, and two counts of money laundering.
Sadly, we are left to wonder if the commonality is because cancer patients sometimes see doctors for second and third opinions looking for more hope and are willing to try more treatments and options. Either way, people seek help from doctors when they are sick and we hope that doctors treat them well.