A PHYSIO at Dollar Health Centre has been suspended following an investigation into her professional conduct.

Lesley McIlwraith, who has not practised as a physio since 2018, had an unblemished career for nearly three decades before

However, she was given a suspension order for a maximum of 12 months by the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service after a virtual hearing this month.

The hearing panel found that she committed data protection breaches, acted dishonestly by booking false appointments and failed to keep proper notes on two occasions.

Allegations surfaced after a patient requested an audit as to who had accessed her GP records at the Dollar Health Centre.

The person, referred to throughout the proceedings as Patient 56, became aware that Mrs McIlwraith had accessed her medical records on July 7 and on August 30 in 2016.

Mrs McIlwraith and Patient 56 knew each other in a personal capacity, but never had any dealings through the physiotherapy service.

The physiotherapist also accessed the medical records of Patient 56's son, Patient 57, on July 7 and November 29 in 2016.

There was "clear evidence" she accessed the records and it was found she had no clinical reason to do so with one exception.

It was accepted that she accessed Patient 57's records on November 29, 2016, with a clinical reason, given a query about their musculoskeletal situation.

Concerns relating to the above sparked an internal investigation in May 2017.

Just a few weeks before that, Mrs McIlwraith had called in sick to work and calls were made to patients whom she had appointments with.

It came to light the patients were not aware they had appointments.

The panel's report said: "The panel was mindful of the obvious stress which the registrant would have been under as a result of being investigated and interviewed by the trust [NHS Forth Valley] and by these proceedings.

"However, the panel was concerned that the registrant's evidence was in important respects vague and inconsistent and at times not credible."

The inquiry also found the allegation she booked three false patient appointments to be proven, which she accepted was to "create some more time to catch up".

The panel added: "She also acknowledged that the result of her actions would have been to delay these and other patients from receiving treatment which they needed.

"The panel was in no doubt that the registrant's actions in making false appointments was dishonest."

Evidence presented to support the allegation that she failed to take proper notes was "insufficient" on numerous, but not all, counts based on the balance of probabilities.

However, Mrs McIlwraith remembered two specific appointments on January 24 and 26 in 2017 where she took no notes.

The panel said it was satisfied that her "conduct fell far below the standards required of a registered physiotherapist".

In mitigation, she had an unblemished career for 29 years, admitted factual allegations and co-operated with the investigation.

Regard was also given to the "stressful circumstances concerning her private life at the time" but she "ought to have raised concerns or sought help".