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Recent Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal decision

The Medical Council of New Zealand chair, Dr Curtis Walker, said today that imposing closely monitored strict conditions on the practice of the doctor who was found to have performed unjustified clinical examinations on a number of woman patient’s breasts was entirely appropriate and necessary. The doctor has also been found to have made a number of inappropriate comments to female patients including commenting on their appearance and their sexual activity.

Dr Walker agreed that suspension would have been appropriate in these circumstances, but noted that the reason why this was not ordered By the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal was because the doctor had already been out of work for 13 months.

The Council’s main purpose is to promote and protect public health and safety in New Zealand. In this case the Council acted quickly and imposed a conditions on his practise requiring the doctor to have a chaperone present during all consultations with female patients. This condition was monitored closely by the Council to ensure compliance.

‘Today’s Tribunal decision reinforces the role of Council in promoting and protecting public health and safety. This includes ensuring there is a clear and fair process of dealing with concerns raised about the practice or conduct of a doctor. The Council takes any concerns that a doctor has not met standards very seriously and works hard to protect patients.’

The Council recognises and appreciates it has taken great courage and strength for the women to come forward and give evidence in this hearing. Their actions have ensured that a doctor, whose actions were a very serious breach of trust and professional boundaries, has appropriate restrictions on his practice to ensure no further breaches occur.

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