A DOCTOR who treated children and pregnant women with small doses of a drug used in heroin addicts has admitted becoming "complacent" and said he will not use the treatment in the same way again.

Dr Thomas Gilhooly, a Glasgow GP, has for years championed the prescription of Low Dose Naltrexone for people with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

He lectured on its potential benefits internationally, prescribed it to hundreds of patients through his private clinic and planned a trial to investigate its benefits.

However, following an investigation by the General Medical Council a hearing has been told he has decided not to prescribe LDN in future.

The treatment - originally used to block the euphoric effects of drugs and help addicts to quit - is not licensed for the treatment of MS. However, there is widespread discussion about its potential benefits when used in small amounts to alleviate the symptoms of this and a range of other health problems.

Dr Gilhooly, an NHS GP at Carntyne Medical Centre in Glasgow, was first asked about it by one of his patients with MS and developed a keen interest in the drug.

Videos on YouTube show him lecturing about the difference it has made to some of his patients. At one point he says 350 people from a number of different countries had received it on prescription from his private practice.

"It is safe in all ages, we have used it in pregnant women," he says in one clip. "I gave one of my patients with anorexia LDN for her fatigue and forgot to mention the fact that it increases fertility - because it seems to do that - and she got pregnant much to everyone's amazement."

The GMC investigated Dr Gilhooly's prescription of the drug to three separate patients, a four year-old boy with autism whose mother requested the treatment, a patient with a skin condition who became pregnant and a cancer sufferer who decided not to take the drug. They also looked at the quantity of an antipsychotic drug he gave to a child with Downs Syndrome.

The tribunal panel was told by Mr Paul Williams, who appeared on behalf of the GMC, that Dr Gilhooly has "a desire to help patients which needs to be kept in check, and that this character trait is still present today".

Appearing on behalf of Dr Gilhooly, Mr Anthony Haycroft said the GP "was not campaigning for Low Dose Naltrexone or taking risks in order to promote the drug."

He said none of the patients had been harmed - except the child with Downs Syndrome becoming "drowsy".

He also said Dr Gilhooly's actions were "highly unlikely to be repeated" because he had acknowledged his failings, accepted that they amount to misconduct, and decided not to prescribe LDN again .

In their ruling, the panel chaired by Ms Wanda Rossiter, said Dr Gilhooly's prescribing "lacked sufficient consideration and placed patients at risk".

"In three of the cases the panel considered your actions to be seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent GP and considers that your clinical judgement was in question."

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has imposed a number of conditions on Dr Gilhooly's ability to practice medicine for six months including a ban on prescribing medicine outside the official guidelines.