Monday, October 14, 2013

False rape doctor suspended for one year

A junior doctor at Bassetlaw Hospital who lied about being raped twice on hospital grounds was suspended for just 12 months after a tribunal ruled it would be “disproportionate” to strike her off.

Dr Hannah Farnsworth, 26, said she was dragged into an office at knifepoint by two unknown men, where she was injected with drugs, tied down, beaten and burnt with a lighter.

She also told police the attack was filmed on a mobile phone.

The medic later reported a second incident to colleagues at the Worksop hospital, in which she was claimed she was raped by two men at knifepoint in a nearby building.

Dr Farnsworth made the false declarations to colleagues, the NHS Trust and police before retracting the allegations in an official statement on 19th July 2011.

She admitted lying about the rapes but claimed she “embellished” the details of two genuine physical assaults on 1st April and 3rd June 2011 so she would be taken seriously.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service fitness to practise panel in Manchester found her account of events was “implausible” and found her guilty of all remaining charges of making false declarations.

The tribunal also ruled her actions were dishonest and misleading and that her false declarations had caused the police to waste time and resources.

The hospital spent £10,000 to improve security for staff, while two police forces investigated the claims, the hearing was earlier told.

Dr Farnsworth was banned from the profession for a year and will have to attend a review hearing before the end of the period of suspension to prove to a panel that she is fit to return to work.

Panel chair Ian Spafford said: “The panel has already determined that your dishonest behaviour constitutes a serious departure from good medical practice.”

“However, the panel accepts that you have reflected on aspects of your behaviour and you recognise the seriousness of your actions.”

“You have apologised to the trust and the police, and offered a face-to-face apology to those who attended this hearing to give evidence.”

He added: “The panel considers that a sanction of erasure, although seriously considered by the panel, would be disproportionate.”

“It does not take the view that erasure is the only means of protecting patients and the wider public interest in the circumstances of this case.”

“The panel is therefore satisfied that it would be both sufficient and proportionate to suspend your registration for the maximum period of 12 months.”

“In deciding this period, the panel took into account the level of your dishonest behaviour and the need to demonstrate clearly to the public, the profession, and to you, that such conduct is unacceptable.”

“It will be sufficient to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour and to maintain public confidence in the profession.”

Giving evidence, the trainee GP told the panel that during a night shift she had been held down on the floor and repeatedly kicked in the ribs by two unknown men.

During the alleged attack, which lasted between five and ten minutes, she described feeling a “sharp pain” in her upper arm and later found a discarded syringe on the floor.

Dr Farnsworth, who has been in a same-sex relationship since 2005 and is expecting a baby in January, said: “The whole event was very distressing.”

“It was a shock and I found myself more nervous, more anxious, not sleeping very well, more tearful than usual,” she said.

“I didn”t feel that I was entitled to feel as distressed as I did. I was worried other people might have a similar view to me, that they might feel that it was not that serious and wonder why I was not my usual self and why I was anxious and distressed.”

She did not report the alleged assault, but instead returned to work to finish the rest of her night shift.

But days later she mentioned the assault to a friend and colleague and over the following weeks introduced more lurid details to her account.

Dr Farnsworth said she had become pregnant after being raped by two men, who had cut her with a knife.

The trainee GP told friends and colleagues she was receiving “funny bleeps” on her hospital pager and received verbal threats not to talk when she replied.

Dr Farnsworth also raised suspicions about two hospital doctors who she thought may have known about the assault, but did not implicate them in the rape.

She apologised to her colleagues during the hearing last week.

She said: “I apologise for my behaviour to everybody concerned including the people behind me. I know it was inappropriate and I”m glad I had this opportunity to apologise in person.”

When the doctor was asked to give an official statement on 19th July after the case was passed on to Notts Police she retracted the allegations.

Sergeant Melanie Ball told the panel they decided not to charge the medic with wasting police time after she stated she never intended to make an official complaint.