Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Quick hit: Name suppression for historic abuse?

Thanks to reader Demelza for emailing this in to me via Facebook. It's pretty icky, and may be triggering. From today's NZ Herald:
An Auckland doctor has admitted sexually abusing three young girls living in an environment of "total trust" - but wants permanent name suppression to pursue a return to medicine.

The 59-year-old man pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault against girls under the age of 12 at the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday. Two other charges, including rape, were withdrawn by the Crown, and the doctor was granted interim name suppression by Justice Graham Lang until sentencing in April.

However, the man is seeking permanent name suppression so he can return to practise medicine, said his lawyer Peter Winter.

"The impact [if suppression was lifted] on him is quite significant. He was a practising general practitioner, this would affect his ability to continue to practise," Mr Winter told the court.

Prosecutor Philip Hamlin said the Crown would oppose permanent name suppression.

To my mind the problem here is that Dr X would be in a position of trust as a GP, and that may put children (and indeed adults) in a vulnerable position. In the teaching profession if there are concerns with a teacher's professional practice or conduct the Teachers Council can put limits on their teaching, e.g. can only teach a certain age-group, or there may have a written statement that they have to show to any prospective employer at the interview stage, or a mentor may be appointed, etc etc. Does anyone know if the same can happen for doctors?


Azlemed said...

this just seems wrong on so many levels. I trust my GP. I would hate the idea that he had done something like that.

this guy going back to practice will also raise suspicions against any other male gp the same age practising... they dont need a witch hunt if it wasnt them.

I do wonder what sanctions are available to the medical council or does a complaint have to be laid with them?

MacDoctor said...

I too reacted with horror at this article. The doctor in question will still have to go through the standard disciplinary tribunal at Medical council. The options are only reinstatement or removal from the register, really. A commonly used option of direct supervision in the problem area would not work in this case, as General practice is predominantly paediatric.

I agree that this name suppression just makes people suspicious of all middle-aged, Auckland, male doctors. And as I am in that demographic, I am unimpressed with the situation.

Placebogirl said...

I don't actually believe a doctor with a history of sexually abusing anyone should be able to work without considerable evidence of rehabilitation (if ever). Being a doctor--someone who deals professionally with the bodies and minds of others--requires a high standard of professional respect for those bodies and minds, and a strong understanding of boundaries. Someone who would commit sexual abuse, shows neither, in my opinion, and to try and escape the consequences of the abuse (i.e. losing ones' position of trust as a doctor) further reinforces my opinion that this individual does not understand the harm he has perpetrated.

If he is not disbarred by the medical council (which is to them to decide) the public should have the option of continuing to see him, or not, and the only way that can happen is if his name does not remain suppressed.

And, for me personally, the idea of seeing a doctor who has sexually abused vulnerable people in his or (less likely) her care just makes my skin crawl.

Azlemed said...

Dr Morgan Fahey was a GP who abused this trust, he lost everything, and quite frankly so he should.

This Dr is not taking any responsibility for his actions and the effects that they have had on three vulnerable young people. By asking for continued name suppression so he can work he is asking people to let him be contact with the very same demographic that he has shown abuse towards.

I think he should be named, he isnt said to be related to the victims, so therefore there should be no infringement to this. I can understand not naming people when its close family members or easy to link them to the victims but this doesnt seem to be the case.

Lets hope that the medical council does discipline him appropriately.

Hendo said...

I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. What arrogance. 'But I'm a doctor! I've been a good citizen! My right to my income and standing in the community is MUCH more important than the safety or concerns of any of my patients!'

No dude... you completely forfeited your right to practice as a doctor when you committed those awful actions.

He should have every right to rehabilitation, but I place the safety of potential victims over his right to his former job.

Julie said...

Thanks for the info MacDoctor, that's interesting to know.

On the one hand I think that people can change. I have to believe that, the alternative is just too depressing. But the risk here if we assume this person has been rehabilitated, with no evidence to suggest he has? Too high for my liking.