A DOCTOR'S career hangs in the balance as a disciplinary panel considers whether her fitness to practise has been impaired.

The hearing, which is expected to conclude this week, has heard claims patients were let down as Dr Pauline Roylance, who ran a single-handed surgery in Tattenhall until her resignation in October 2003, tried to juggle three jobs at once.

She was also employed as an adviser on underperforming GPs to Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT) and as a locum with a GP practice in the town.

The General Medical Council's fitness to practise panel, sitting in Manchester after adjourning an earlier hearing in October, was told Dr Roylance, of Yew Tree Farm, Beeston, was suffering from depression at the time.

In a determination of facts, the hearing found that Dr Roylance failed to provide precise details to Cheshire West PCT of her arrangements with Wolverhampton PCT and failed to respond within 'a reasonable time' to a request for information about the dates she intended to be away from Tattenhall.

During periods of sick leave from Tattenhall Dr Roylance did not report herself as sick to Wolverhampton PCT.

It was also proved she lied to Wolverhampton City PCT when she told them she had resigned from her job in Cheshire and and that she had failed to return medical records from the Tattenhall practice promptly when she eventually did resign.

Her actions were deemed 'inappropriate', 'not in the best interests of patients' and 'liable to bring the profession into disrepute' but only in relation to some of the allegations and not on the question of dishonesty.

On the latter, the panel stated: 'The panel has considered the evidence concerning your mental state at the relevant time and has been assisted by Dr Turner, the specialist health adviser.

'In considering whether you realised that what you said was dishonest, the panel is less than sure and accordingly the GMC has failed to prove the allegation.'

The panel must now consider whether Dr Roylance's fitness to practise is impaired before deciding whether to take any further action.

The panel has the power to strike the doctor from the medical register if the case is proved.

Dr Roylance is currently only able to work under restricted practice conditions which include, among other things, that she shall not work as a locum or a principal in a single-handed practice and shall not undertake any night or weekend work.