Ambulance worker forged prescriptions from doctor to feed codeine addiction

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

An ambulance service employee who was addicted to codeine forged private prescriptions to access powerful painkillers.

The sham was revealed when Dr Edward Gold, an East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) clinician and A&E consultant, was up before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) to answer allegations of prescribing the drug to a friend unnecessarily.

He was cleared of many of the allegations and it was found his judgment was not impaired, but during the hearing it was revealed the patient concerned - an East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) worker who also did shifts at the air ambulance - had been passing prescriptions off as being issued by Dr Gold without his permission.

Dr Gold, who works as a locum for EAAA out of their Norwich and Cambridge bases, told the tribunal that between 2012 and 2017 he had written between five and seven prescriptions for the woman, who had severe back pain, because it would take her too long to get to see a GP or wait at a walk-in centre.

The tribunal found this was not misconduct and ruled the prescriptions were necessary. But the woman revealed during the hearing she "had a template prescription saved on the EAAA computer and I would print this out, then I would write 'E. Gold' on the prescription although I would not forge his signature".

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Dr Gold said he had never given the patient permission to create or sign prescriptions in his name, and the woman said she knew that because Dr Gold had issued prescriptions for her previously, he would agree if the pharmacy queried this with him.

The deception came to light when EAAA staff became suspicious after a pharmacy technician confirmed Dr Gold's employment with them, and the prescription signature was compared to the one they held on file. They did not match.

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The woman "admitted manipulating Dr Gold to secure prescriptions for codeine from him".

Dr Gold admitted he had not realised codeine was a controlled drug, and he had not told the patient's GP he had issued the prescriptions.

He also admitted he had not made a record of his relationship with the patient - who he considered a colleague and friend - or why the prescription was needed.

But the tribunal found his judgment was not impaired.

EAAA said the woman involved is no longer seconded to them.

An EEAST spokesman said it was unable to comment on employment details of specific members of staff.

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