Suspended Man City doctor is ruled safe to work again

Man City doctor who was suspended after prescribing himself anti-anxiety pills because he was ‘overworked’ treating Premier League stars is ruled safe to work again

  • Dr Matthew Brown ordered Zopiclone tablets for himself in the name of a patient
  • He sent intimidating messages to his ex who he suspected complained to GMC
  • Brown was given a six-month suspension after admitting misconduct charges
  • This has now been lifted after the doctor said he was ‘ashamed’ at his behaviour

A former Manchester City club doctor who was suspended after prescribing himself anti-anxiety pills because he was ‘overworked’ treating Premier League stars has been deemed safe to work again.

Dr Matthew Brown, 37, ordered Zopiclone tablets plus anti-depressants for himself in the name of a patient, then sent intimidating messages to his ex-girlfriend when he suspected she was the source of a complaint about it to the General Medical Council (GMC).

Brown, who was lead doctor at City before leaving the club in 2018, used WhatsApp to persuade her to withdraw any statements she might have made against him and in a series of texts said: ‘You need to sort it. You shouldn’t have done what you did. Put the final nail in my medical career’. 

He also threatened to tell the GMC about the background to their breakup.

The incidents took place when Brown, who had worked at City since 2010, had issued prescriptions of Zopiclone, Citalopram and Ventolin tablets from an online pharmacy between June 2016 and June 2018 in the name of an unnamed patient said to be ‘an aesthetic client.’

Dr Matthew Brown, 37, pictured outside court, ordered Zopiclone tablets plus anti-depressants for himself in the name of a patient, then sent intimidating messages to his ex-girlfriend when he suspected she was the source of a complaint about it to the General Medical Council (GMC)

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, Brown who admitted misconduct charges, was given a six month suspension after claiming he had been under stress and ‘overworked’ whilst treating footballers at the Premier League club.

This week it emerged the suspension had been lifted after Brown said he was ‘ashamed’ at his behaviour particularly as he was unable to treat patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said he had completed Medical Ethics and Probity courses and took a role as a Phlebotomist as a way to ‘support’ the NHS while not being able to practise as a doctor.

MPTS chairman Mr Miran Uddin said: ‘The Tribunal was impressed with Dr Brown’s oral evidence and the sincerity with which he expressed remorse. Dr Brown demonstrated increased insight and consideration of the impact of his actions on patients, the profession and the GMC.

‘The tribunal was satisfied that Dr Brown’s reflections on himself, his development and any other issues relating to work-life balance were he to return to unrestricted clinical practice were genuine.

‘He has made significant gains in terms of his level of insight, particularly in his consideration of how his actions in self-prescribing and seeking to intimidate Ms B may have impacted public confidence in the profession and had the potential to harm patients.

‘This was a case of dishonesty over a protracted period of time however Dr Brown now has more robust coping mechanisms in place which he believes will prevent any possible recurrence of his actions. 

‘He has done everything that could be expected of him to demonstrate that he understood his misconduct and was now safe to resume unrestricted practice.’

The investigation began after a pharmacist working at Stepping Hill was approached by Brown’s partner known as Miss B who said the doctor had been prescribing medication for himself under somebody else’s name. 

The pharmacist informed an online pharmacy service which Brown was using and he was reported to the GMC.

It emerged Miss B had shared pictures of boxes of medication at the home she shared with Dr Brown. Later he contacted Miss B and indicated someone told him he was self prescribing antidepressants and she responded that she had not spoken to the GMC.

He then replied: ‘Not a problem if you did, just need an email retracting any statements. If you did a quick email to withdraw the claims, that would be great. You need to sort it. You shouldn’t have done what you did. Just reply to the GMC, put the final nail in my medical career’.

The doctor, pictured with the Premier League trophy at Manchester City, claimed he had been under stress and ‘overworked’ whilst treating footballers

He later sent Miss B a further message saying: ‘Just to confirm you’re still going along with this. Either contact the GMC and withdraw it or it continues. If it continues, please never contact me again’.

Brown, from Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, admitted issuing ‘one or more medications’ in the name of a man called Patient A for his own use. But he insisted the zopiclone was for the patient – claiming it was to help him sleep. He said he last met Patient A on June 12, 2018 and he has not seen or heard from him since despite attempts to contact him.

Brown told the hearing: ‘The one-off supply was used by Patient A for the control of short-term insomnia due to his international travel. I accept that the self-prescribing was done on more than one occasion but this was all while I was in a difficult work/home life situation.

He said the investigation cost him a job offer with one international cycling team and told an earlier hearing: ‘My work at Manchester City developed into working every weekend resulting in insufficient contact with my son. In addition, I was on call 24 hours a day so that, for example, when a player woke up with a cold at 3am, I was called and tasked to visit to provide treatment. This was not an isolated occurrence.

‘I have reflected and accept that during the period in question I did not exercise good judgement, lacked insight into the gravity of my actions and did so due to the stress of working hours, poor time management, and a lack of coping mechanisms. I accept that my behaviour was a serious departure from the standards required and expected of a doctor. I have learnt from this process.

‘Though I do not feel that I am a dishonest person, I recognise and acknowledge with deep regret that my actions at this time were dishonest. I was in a relationship with my cohabitee which was not a positive relationship for me as time went on. I believe these factors clouded my judgment though I now have full insight into my behaviour and remorse about my actions.’

In 2017 Brown took responsibility for ‘admin errors’ following a 2016 investigation into City for breaching Football Association anti-doping rules which dictates that all clubs must constantly give notice on the location of their players.

They occurred when manager Pep Guardiola failed to inform the FA of an extra training session in July, a first-team player missed a test in September because he had not updated his address and six reserve players missed tests in December because they had been given the day off at late notice. The club were fined £35,000.

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