Reporting psychiatrists and mental health workers to the police

It was recently reported in the Daily Echo that a mental health worker had sex with a vulnerable inpatient less than a fortnight after she tried to kill herself.

The mental health care worker Andrew Harvey, was working for St Ann’s Hospital as part of a ‘bank’ of support workers. He was accompanying the woman on a supervised trip to see her children when the offences took place in 2015. The two arrived for their meeting around two-and-half hours early and Harvey suggested they get a hotel room. He admitted three counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder by a care worker.

Harvey was sentenced to 21 months in prison and will be subject to a 10-year notification requirement and sexual harm prevention order.

The offences relate to sections 38 and 39 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 under the heading of ‘Care workers: sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder’ and ‘Care workers: causing or inciting sexual activity.’

Considering the above case and the outcome, CCHR UK has been investigating a psychiatrist who was the subject of a Medical Practitioners Tribunal that took place last year. During a professional relationship with his patient, the psychiatrist engaged in a sexual and an inappropriate relationship.

There were specific points in his Tribunal that were admitted and found proved.

1. ‘…you saw Patient A in your capacity as her private psychiatrist.’ This was admitted and found proved.

2. ‘You know or ought reasonable to have known that Patient A was a vulnerable patient because of her history of mental ill health.’ This was also admitted and found proved.

3. ‘During your professional relationship with Patient A you engaged in a sexual and an inappropriate emotional relationship with her.’ This too was admitted and found proved.

The admissions that were found proved appear to be in violation of sections 38 and 39 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The mental health care worker and the psychiatrist both engaged in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder. It may be a matter of semantics, but the private psychiatrist could be considered a care worker as he was caring for the patient.

Mr Harvey is now serving a prison sentence. The psychiatrist was struck off of the Medical Register, which means he can no longer practice as a psychiatrist, but his case has not been considered in regards to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

In view of the data collected that is already in the public domain, CCHR UK wrote to the GMC to ask why the case was not reported to the police. The response was as follows:

‘…the GMC has no legal duty or obligation to report potential criminal conduct to the Police.  However, we do have discretion under section 35B(2) of the Medical Act 1983 to share information with the Police if we consider it to be in the public interest and it relates to the individual practitioner’s fitness to practise.’

If a psychiatrist has committed an alleged criminal offence, it must surely be in the public interest to disclose the information to the police so that the appropriate action can be taken and justice served.

This is not the end of the story, and we will be giving updates on this case as it develops.


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