A doctor who forged prescriptions at St Albans City Hospital because of fears surrounding COVID-19 has been suspended following a misconduct hearing.

Dr Selvi Vikram, who worked as a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has been banned from practicing for two months after she admitted to prescribing herself various medications.

Between May 2020 and October 2021, Dr Vikram wrote a total of 15 prescriptions for various medications and falsely wrote on 14 of those prescriptions the names of three different doctors.

The prescriptions were then either signed by Dr Vikram herself in her own name or falsely signed in the name of one of the other doctors.

On October 26, 2021, she presented an outpatient prescription for several medications at St Albans City Hospital Pharmacy.

The lead dispensary pharmacist noticed an irregularity - with the dosage for one of the prescribed medications increased.

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The prescription was signed by an unnamed Dr C, and when the pharmacist queried the signature with him, it was confirmed that he had not written or signed the prescription.

A day later, on October 27, 2021, the pharmacist reported the incident, with a further review finding that Dr Vikram had presented 14 other prescriptions, some of which had been written in the name of Mr C, as well as two other doctors - although she spelt one of their names incorrectly.

She was formally excluded from work from October 28, 2021 until April 6, 2022, when she was allowed to return to work with a final written warning without restrictions.

Dr Vikram admitted all the allegations of misconduct against her, admitting that fears surrounding COVID-19 led to her dishonesty.

"My problems began at the start of the COVID pandemic in March 2020," she admitted

"We were facing additional pressures at work because we were short staffed, I was very worried about contracting COVID.

"I lived on my own and I felt vulnerable. I felt very worried about catching COVID and about how I would seek help if I suddenly became ill. All my thoughts were absorbed with COVID and my worries about catching COVID."

After a spell working in the intensive care unit in April 2020, Dr Vikram started displaying COVID-19 symptoms, but she tested negative and was given a prescription by a doctor.

"I did not want to go into a community pharmacy and be around other people and risk catching COVID," she continued. 

"I didn’t share any of my worries with my colleagues as we were all worried about COVID and we were understaffed, overworked and services were stretched, particularly in A&E. I therefore did not want to burden my own personal worries onto any of my colleagues.

"In May 2020, I therefore decided to rewrite the prescription so I could pick it up from within the hospital.

"I made the unwise decision of seeking more prescriptions via the hospital pharmacy, without seeking a review of my symptoms from a doctor, and without seeking the permission of my colleagues in whose names I obtained the prescriptions."