An Oxford-educated doctor has been caught moonlighting at cosmetic surgery clinics while on NHS sick leave.
Dr Daniel Coventry, 33, was signed off work between April and October 2018 with a suspected virus while working as a junior doctor on £35,000 a year at the Western Sussex NHS Trust.
During that time he worked at the private clinic A New You in Brighton, where facelifts cost up to £8,000 and tummy tucks cost up to £6,000, as well as at his own medical practice DC Aesthetics, investigators found.
He was spotted on social media offering facial fillers, thread facelifts, and anti-wrinkle injections and was subsequently reported to management at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex.
Concerns were raised over his time off work, and he was advised to access the hospital’s StaffNet website to read the trust’s policies regarding sick leave.
In December of that year he was found guilty of gross misconduct at an internal disciplinary hearing, by which time he had already left the trust.
Dr Coventry subsequently left his job before officials were able to give him a final written warning and he was reported to the General Medical Council.
At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, Dr Coventry, who studied medicine at Oxford after graduating with a first-class degree in biology at the University of Brighton, was suspended from medical practice for six months after being found guilty of serious professional misconduct.
He was represented by his father, Stuart Coventry, during the Manchester hearing.
The doctor claimed he thought there was ‘‘no conflict of interest’’ in doing private work while off sick and “not rostered” to work NHS shifts.
Ms Chloe Fairley, counsel for the GMC, told the tribunal that although the case did not put patients at unwarranted risk of harm, Dr Coventry’s misconduct involved repeated occasions of dishonest conduct.
She added: “At present, there is no real insight demonstrated by Dr Coventry and he is yet to take responsibility for his actions.
“Members of the public are entitled to place complete reliance upon a doctor’s honesty, and the relationship between the profession and the public is based on the expectation that doctors will act with integrity at all times.
“Any insight that had appeared to be present at the trust investigation in December 2019, when Dr Coventry stated that he accepted the investigation’s findings, has been undermined by his evidence during this hearing, when he stated that he had said those things merely for the sake of ‘moving things on’.
“This was a case involving deliberate deceit within a professional context.”
‘Naivety and errors of judgement’
For Dr Coventry, his father said his son had accepted his “naivety and errors of judgement”.
Mr Coventry added: “At the time of the events, Dr Coventry had the mindset of a newly qualified doctor and was naïve and inexperienced. He also wishes to emphasise there was no intention of deceiving or defrauding his employer or causing them any loss.
“He did not take sick leave specifically in order to undertake private work and he did not make any financial net gain. Had he been knowingly dishonest, he would not have posted about his work on social media. There was zero financial benefit to Dr Coventry.”
In the tribunal’s determination, Samantha Gray, its chairman, said it had taken into consideration the claim that there had been no financial gain, but did not accept this, saying Dr Coventry would have been paid for his sick leave from the public purse while also being paid for private work.
She added: “Furthermore, the NHS trust may have had to fund further staffing to cover Dr Coventry’s absence. This further highlights that there is a way to go before Dr Coventry understands the consequences of his actions.”