Friday, 2 March 2012
Unfit for Purpose
I read this crazy news item in The Herald newspaper the other day.
Nurse assault doctor spared
A doctor 'freaked out' and sexually assaulted a nurse because he did not want to watch Emmerdale on TV has escaped being struck off.
Dr Satpal Jabbal, who was suspended from working for nine months, squeezed her left breast with both hands after she grabbed the remote control from him to turn over to the ITV1 soap.
He also stamped on her bag of crisps, threw a cup of coffee over her and pushed the television from its stand as he shouted: "If I cannot watch the television, then neither can you."
In a statement after the incident in October 2001, the nurse described how the doctor had "freaked out" in a hospital tea room.
He was also found to have sexually assaulted two other nurses at Wishaw General Hospital in North Lanarkshire.
A General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practise panel said such behaviour would usually lead to his erasure from the medical register but determined that in this case he could be suspended for nine months.
Sara Lewis, for the GMC, had submitted that erasure was the "only legitimate response" after it was previously found his fitness to practise was impaired because of his misconduct.
One nurse was subjected to a campaign of harassment between March 2006 and February 2007, and he grabbed the breast of a third nurse while she tended a patient.
An investigation was launched by NHS Lanarkshire and Dr Jabbal was dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2009.
Dr Jabbal, now employed at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, Northern Ireland, had denied the allegations.
The panel acknowledged he had worked for more than year at Daisy Hill under interim conditions which he had not breached.
The chairman, Professor Julian Whitehouse, said: "The panel has concluded a period of suspension from the medical register is a proportionate response and sends a signal such conduct will not be tolerated."
But there are a number of things that puzzle me about the General Medical Council (GMC) and its deliberations:
1 Why were the police not called and the man charged with assault?
2 How could an incident from 2001 take until 2012 to be concluded?
3 How can suspension be an appropriate punishment for someone who appeasr to be a repeat and serial offender?
4 How is is possible for a doctor to work in another part of the UK when there is an unresolved disciplinary matter on his record?
Maybe there's more to this case than meets the eye - but if not - I fail to see how the GMC has been doing its job of protecting the public - and upholding standards within the medical profession.