A DOCTOR from East Lancashire who was suspended after cheating the NHS out of £12,000 has been allowed to return to practice.

Dr John Coffey was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence after he was convicted of carrying out extra duties during his normal working day - then sending his bosses an overtime bill.

Coffey, of Goose Lane, Chipping, a specialist in nuclear medicine, had been asked to review x-rays and scans, outside of his usual work, then write up reports.

He was paid £4 per film by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the material was delivered in batches of 100, Preston Crown Court heard.

Passing sentence for an offence of making false representations, Judge Mark Brown branded Coffey, who was earning a six-figure sum at the time, as “greedy”.

He was also hauled before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) last year, and suspended for 12 months after his fitness to practice was found to be impaired.

But an MPTS review hearing was told that Coffey had registered with the General Medical Council of Ireland, in light of his British suspension, and had been working most recently at Mayo University Hospital.

Virginia Hayton, counsel for Coffey, said that her client had complied with the terms of his suspension and had no intentions of reoffending in the future.

No further concerns had been expressed regarding his conduct following the charges, which were now four years old, she added.

Paul Williams, for the General Medical Council, said that the regulator’s stance on whether Coffey’s fitness to practice was still impaired was “neutral”.

Allowing the doctor to return to unrestricted practice following the Manchester hearing, MPTS panel chairman Barrie Searle said: “The tribunal was impressed by Dr Coffey’s level of insight into his conviction and agreed he has demonstrated remediation.

“It determined that Dr Coffey has demonstrated genuine remorse for his actions and fully accepts the ramifications (of them) both professionally and morally.”