GP accused of inappropriately massaging buttocks of woman in ‘sexually motivated’ manner during late-night call-out
• Yesterday 16:50
A locum GP has been accused of professional misconduct over inappropriately massaging the buttocks of a female patient during a late-night consultation with an out-of-hours service in Cork over four years ago.
A fitness-to-practise inquiry by the Irish Medical Council heard it was alleged that Syed Rafaqat Ali Shah massaged the buttocks of the woman “in a manner that was sexually motivated” after giving her an injection at the SouthDoc clinic in the South Ring Business Park in Ballyphehane shortly before 1am on September 25, 2018.
Dr Shah, who was employed at the time by Locumotion, a Dublin-based medical recruitment agency, is also accused of sending a WhatsApp text to the same patient four days later which was inappropriate and for no clinical reason.
He is also facing a third allegation of professional misconduct for calling the woman on October 10, 2018 and falsely claiming to be his own legal representative.
The woman – who was identified only as Patient A – told the IMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee, that she had called SouthDoc for a late-night appointment as she had been vomiting uncontrollably as well as suffering from a dry socket after a wisdom tooth extraction.
Following an examination of her chest, Patient A said she found it “slightly unusual or peculiar” that the doctor had massaged her buttocks after she had pulled down her pyjama bottoms to get an injection.
The woman said she could not recall how long the massage had lasted but had the feeling that the GP “might have been a small bit attracted to me.”
“It was the least attractive moment of my life,” she added.
Patient A said she had just felt a vibe that the interaction was somewhat unusual.
However, she said it was unlikely she would have reported the matter but for the fact that she subsequently received a WhatsApp message saying “hi” from Dr Shah at 5.30am on September 29, 2018.
“It made what I thought was odd before a little bit odder,” Patient A remarked.
When she replied asking who the sender was, Dr Shah responded: “Don’t you remember me?”
Patient A said she looked at the image on the sender’s profile and questioned back if it was the doctor.
The inquiry heard Dr Shah replied: “God bless you” which ended the exchange.
Patient A said she subsequently blocked the number as she did not want to continue the conversation which she admitted was “peculiar” and had “validated my original vibe.”
The woman said she contacted SouthDoc about what had happened as she just felt it was important that the incidents were noted “in case someday something worse could happen.”
Patient A admitted she was anxious as she was aware that Southdoc had details of her address.
“I hoped nobody would show up to my house,” she added.
The inquiry heard the witness claimed she got a fright 11 days later with a call from somebody who claimed to be Dr Shah’s legal representative.
Patient A said she believed she hung up on the caller who had an Asian accent and informed SouthDoc about the call.
The general manager of SouthDoc, Máire Hussey, gave evidence of having rung the number provided by Patient A which she said was answered by the locum.
Dr Shah (34), who qualified as a doctor in his native Pakistan in 2014, did not attend the inquiry because he did not believe “justice would prevail.”
In correspondence with the IMC, he claimed he had not been treated fairly and pointed out that his application for the inquiry to be held in private had been refused.
Dr Shah complained that the inquiry would add to his existing stress, trauma and mental health issues.
However, counsel for the IMC, Lorna Lynch BL, said the doctor, who is now understood to be based in Dubai, had failed to provide any medical evidence to support such claims.
The inquiry heard Dr Shah worked in Ireland between August 2018 and June 2019 and had also spent time working as a locum with Shannondoc in Limerick, Centric Health in Ennis and Nenagh General Hospital.
He also worked at a number of SouthDoc clinics including Cork, Killarney and Tralee.
Ms Lynch said the inquiry was being held on foot of a complaint submitted in November 2018 by SouthDoc’s medical directors, Gary Stack and Donal Coffey.
An administrator with Centric Health in Ennis, Caroline Guthrie gave evidence of having informed Dr Shah prior to working with SouthDoc that any follow-up calls required to be made to patients who had been seen by locum GPs should be made by their regular doctor.
Ms Guthrie said she had also instructed Dr Shah that he should not take the contact details of any patients and to destroy any ones which he might have kept.
Ms Lynch said the locum had claimed in correspondence that he was returning to Pakistan for a few days and had tried to contact a number of patients on the day after his consultation with Patient A to ensure they would attend their appointments on time.
She said the IMC was told by Dr Shah that his phone was not working while he was away and he got a text from an unknown number on his return asking who had called.
Dr Shan denied ever having a conversation with any patient in Ireland on his mobile phone or trying to get the contact details of a patient.
He maintained that if anything had happened it was “an accident.”
The inquiry was adjourned and will resume on Wednesday when it is expected to conclude.
Dr Shah’s entry on the IMC’s medical register records that he has provided the High Court with an undertaking not to practise medicine or seek to practise medicine in Ireland until further notice.