Elderly GP struck off for failure to complete course

Dr Richard Townsend was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct in 2007 by a Professional Standards Committee for lacking judgement in prescribing benzodiazepines.

He was ordered to refrain from prescribing Schedule 4 Appendix D drugs and to enrol at his earliest opportunity in a Monash University course entitled Issues in General Practice Prescribing.

On the evidence, Dr Townsend obeyed the first condition.

But he failed to embrace the second condition, missing a series of deadlines in 2008, 2009 and 2013 for him to complete the course.

The doctor, a sole practitioner since 1967, told the Professional Standards Committee in 2012 he had no computer and no computer skills and lacked the ability to acquire them.

Further, a spinal condition made it difficult for him to sit reading for hours, he had no intention of computerising his dwindling practice, and the cost of the course and textbooks was a financial penalty he could not