Sheffield GP found guilty of misconduct over affair with patient

Dr Peter King. Picture Cavendish Press
Dr Peter King. Picture Cavendish Press
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A respected Sheffield family GP with an unblemished career in medicine dating back 43 years has been publicly shamed and given a written warning over a romance he had with a patient six years ago.

Dr Peter King, 65, had an eight month affair with the woman in 2011 after they met at a local running club.

But during their relationship, King who was principal partner at a surgery in Sheffield, ignored conflict of interest warnings and consulted her over concerns she had about her breast implants and also carried out surgery to remove a skin lesion from her leg.

The romance broke up amicably in January 2012 but King carried on treating his former lover for a range of conditions.

The affair was reported to the General Medical Council after the unnamed woman's consultant psychiatrist contacted a senior official at NHS England in 2015.

It emerged the woman - known as Patient A told the consultant about the relationship during counselling sessions. She said her affair with King began as a ''social relationship'' in January 2011 and it became sexual the following May. She insisted she was not vulnerable and had no concerns about King's behaviour. He continued treating her until September 2014.

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, King who has been a partner at the Far Lane Medical Centre since 1976 having qualified two years earlier was found guilty of misconduct charges but was told he was free to continue practising medicine after it emerged colleagues and patients were aware of the romance.

Instead a warning will be put on King's registration for the next five years saying he had an affair with the woman whilst providing her with clinical care but adding: ''The behaviour does not meet with the standards required of a doctor and risks bring the profession into disrepute.''

The woman refused to testify against her former lover or give a statement.

The Manchester hearing was told King was Patient A’s GP but he had only seen her once in a medical capacity in the run up to them meeting socially in January 2011.

Charles Garside QC counsel for the GMC said: ''Dr King is a keen runner and met Patient A at a local running club, following that they grew closer and one thing led to another and the sexual relationship began in May 2011

''While that relationship continued Patient A did consult Dr King in his capacity as a GP and didn’t move practice or change her GP to another in the practice. Dr King excises a skin lesion from her leg in September 2011.

''He also saw her about concerns to do with her breast implants on the 3 January 2012. The relationship ended in January 2012 but Dr King continued to so care for Patient A and saw her in July 2013, July 2014, August 2014 and September 2014.

''The relationship was at all times consensual and Patient A is making no comment to these allegations. She will also not be giving evidence. She wants nothing to do with these proceedings.

''Dr King accepts the relationship happened, and accepts that after the relationship ended he should not have continued treating Patient A. He also says that he did explain to Patient A that he should not be treating her at the time of the relationship but she was not having it.

''He also states that he did tell his partners in the GP practice about the situation. It is not clear why Dr King did not stand his ground and it seems very odd that the partners didn’t offer to take her as a patient themselves.

''Dr King did also speak to the GMC but there is no records of what was discussed or said so that cannot be explored further.''

King told tribunal he contacted the GMC when he believed his relationship with Patient A was progressing from a ''social relationship to a sexual relationship.'' He acknowledged he made an ‘error in judgement’ in not adhering to advice about not treating her and said he ''deeply regretted'' he '‘robust or firm enough’' when insisting that Patient A register at another practice, which she had refused to do.

He said he was ''deeply sorry'' for his misconduct and promised in future that if received any such approaches from patients, they would be firmly ''rebuffed'' and would be discussed with his surgery partners. He said he would ask any such patient to leave the practice list or ensure that the patient would not be treated by him.

His lawyer Stephen Brassington said King had not used 'subterfuge' to conduct the affair and said the ''mischief'' was the failure to ensure that treatment did not occur during his relationship with Patient A.

Panel chairman Dr Bernard Herdan told King: ''Your relationship with Patient A developed in a social setting, as a result of a shared interest in running. She was not a vulnerable patient and your relationship was consensual. When it as about to become sexual in nature, you contacted the GMC for guidance on relationships with patients and you informed your GP Partners when the affair with Patient A commenced.

''You readily and openly accepted that you had had a relationship with Patient A between February 2011 and January 2012 and the breakdown of your relationship was amicable. You accepted you were guilty of misconduct, insofar that on two occasions you continued to treat Patient A during the course of your relationship, contrary to the advice given to you by the GMC.

''You expressed deep regret and remorse and the tribunal accepts your assertion that this would never happen again in the future. The Tribunal noted that you are to complete a learning module on ‘Boundaries with Patients’. In the light of your insight, that it is highly unlikely that you will repeat the misconduct. ''