A Spalding doctor says he will appeal a six-week suspension placed on him after an allegation of sexual misconduct.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled this week that Dr Graham Wheatley, of Munro Medical Centre’s practice, ‘is impaired by reason of misconduct’ and said he should be suspended for six weeks.
The ruling follows a hearing earlier this year relating to an allegation of sexual harassment, where the tribunal found he had inappropriately touched a person at an outside of work social gathering two years ago.
Dr Wheatley said the allegation was ‘entirely malicious’ and told The Voice he would appeal the finding handed down following the initial hearing in Manchester in May.
It ruled it had ‘found proved’ that Dr Wheatley had put an arm around the waist of a colleague and touched their bottom.
The tribunal heard he was intoxicated at the time.
In mitigation, it was told he had made a ‘fundamental change in his approach to use of alcohol on social occasions’ and ‘recognised the gravity of his conduct and had demonstrated this through his reflective statements and completion of courses’.
The tribunal ruled that the case was in the public interest to ‘protect the public and uphold public confidence in the medical profession’ but acknowledged it was at the ‘low end’ of sexual harassment.
“Although the Tribunal considered there is a low risk of repetition in this case, it cannot be satisfied that Dr Wheatley’s remediation is complete,” the ruling states.
“The public expects doctors’ conduct to justify its trust in them and expects doctors to maintain respectful relationships with colleagues and treat them fairly.
“Where doctors fail to do so in a significant way, the public’s trust in the profession is undermined.”
Dr Wheatley told The Voice: “There has unfortunately been an entirely malicious complaint made by somebody with no connection to the practice about something which has already been investigated thoroughly by Health Education England and found to be untrue. This complaint was then taken to a medical tribunal, who dismissed two allegations but, and in our view completely wrongly, upheld one allegation, which is now being challenged in the appeals process.
“Their main witness has so far given at least two different accounts. Because of this, we were surprised and very disappointed that the tribunal did not find against this allegation, particularly as the previous Health Education England investigation did not uphold the complaint. Therefore we expect it to be overturned on appeal.”
The suspension will remain pending an appeal which has to go before London’s High Court.