GMC clears doctor of sex pest claim
Wednesday 02 May 2012
A senior doctor accused of being a sex pest has been cleared of any wrongdoing by medical watchdogs.
Stephen Graham, 54, had faced a string of allegations involving touching or cupping the breasts of patients while women were anaesthetised.
On other occasions it was alleged he removed part of a theatre gown to expose one naked patient and leered at another unconscious woman being prepared for catheterisation, the General Medical Council (GMC) was told.
The 54-year-old worked as a a consultant anaesthetist based at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough at the time of the alleged incidents, which date back to 2006.
Dr Graham, from Seamer, near Middlesbrough, had denied misconduct before a Fitness to Practise Panel of the GMC sitting in Manchester and was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The panel heard that in 2009, following concerns raised by nurses about alleged inappropriate touching by him of female patients and a female nurse, an investigation was conducted by the trust.
In December 2009, the trust concluded that there was no case to answer.
Dr Graham underwent a phased return to work between March and June 2010, but in July 2010 further similar concerns were raised and a second investigation launched, which again concluded there was no case to answer.
The doctor undertook a phased return to work in December 2010, this time at the Friarage Hospital, based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, before the case was brought before the GMC.
But after hearing evidence, the GMC concluded any touching of patients or nurses, observations of anaesthetised patients and the removal of one patient's gown to expose her naked body was not done for sexual motivations.
The GMC ruled Dr Graham had not deliberately acted wrongly and, in fact, his actions were appropriate in examining patients.
In only one case the GMC concluded he acted wrongly when he ran his finger up the spine of a nurse without invitation, to demonstrate a medical point, but had meant no harm by it.
Dr Graham, an expert in scoliosis, a spinal condition, had "misjudged the situation" and on that occasion failed to treat the nurse with dignity.
The incident was, however, a "single isolated incident that was wholly out of character", the GMC found.
It said Dr Graham is a "highly intelligent, fastidious yet quirky individual" and an "excellent teacher" who likes to involve the student personally in the subject matter.
The GMC cleared Dr Graham of all charges of misconduct.
Following the hearing, Dr Graham said: "I am extremely pleased with the outcome of my fitness to practise hearing.
"There has been a great burden on me and my family since the allegations were made and I am relieved that this matter is now over.
"I would like to thank my family and friends for their support during this difficult time."
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