Doctor struck off for sexual relationship with patient

An Auckland doctor has been struck off for having a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient around 30 years his junior.

The man, known as doctor H, was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT).

He had denied conducting a sexual relationship with his patient, known as Mrs A between February and December 2010, claiming at a HPDT hearing in March that he was instead having an affair with her friend, Ms B, who lived in her family home and shared her mobile phone.

However, in its decision released today, the tribunal said doctor H's evidence was unreliable, and aspects of his testimony "quite implausible".

"What was particularly striking about Dr H's evidence was how little he knew about [Ms B]. He had a vague idea only of her family circumstances; he

gave no real explanation as to what she was doing in New Zealand," the tribunal said.

It said his transgressions amounted to "very serious malpractice" and brought discredit to the medical profession.

"Dr H abused his position of trust as Mrs A's GP for his own sexual gratification," it said, noting a "significant power imbalance".

"She instinctively felt Dr H's behaviour was wrong and tried to resist it. However, she was vulnerable and he exploited this."

The exploitation was "cynical and deliberate", it said.

The HPDT cancelled his registration as a doctor, saying: "Public safety would not be adequately protected by an order of suspension."

He was also ordered to pay costs and disbursements totalling $66,440.

- Patrice Dougan of APNZ