Creswell: Doctor who had sex with patient faces being struck off

A GP who had sex with a patient in his Creswell surgery as other appointments took place a few feet away faces being struck off after he was branded a ‘risk to patients’.

By Guardian reporter
Friday, 17th January 2014, 10:12 am
Creswell Medical Centre
Creswell Medical Centre

Dr Maurice Ripley seduced the woman with gifts of perfume and chocolates when she came to the Creswell Medical Centre.

He even paid for her boob job - but threatened to rip out the implants three years later after the relationship soured.

Ripley sent abusive text messages to his former lover, known as Patient A, when he received a ‘blackmail’ letter demanding £15,000, the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service heard.

A fitness to practise panel in Manchester, chaired by Dr Vicki Harris, found his ‘disgraceful’ misconduct ‘brought the profession into disrepute’ and he now faces being kicked out of the profession.

Dr Harris said: “Not only did Dr Ripley breach the doctor/patient boundaries by his predatory behaviour, but he also breached those boundaries by giving large sums of money to Patient A.”

“Dr Ripley’s conduct was fundamentally wrong and was a flagrant violation of the necessary trust between a doctor and his patient.”

“Not only was the cultivation and pursuit of this sexual relationship improper, but on at least one occasion Dr Ripley had sexual intercourse with Patient A in his consultation room during his clinic.”

“This, in itself, is utterly unacceptable and reprehensible conduct.”

Dr Harris explained that his conduct was aggravated by the sending of inappropriate emails and threatening and abusive text messages when he was drunk and thought he was being blackmailed.

The tribunal ruled his actions amounted to misconduct and found his fitness to practise impaired as a result.

“His conduct not only brought disgrace upon himself, but also prejudiced the reputation of the medical profession. Clearly this is misconduct,” Dr Harris added.

“The panel judged that Dr Ripley presented a risk to patients because he had led a vulnerable patient into an inappropriate emotional and sexual relationship.”

Rosalind Emsley-Smith, for the General Medical Council, called for Ripley to be struck off.

Opening the case she told the panel: “The patient started to see Dr Ripley in a professional capacity from September 2009.”

“During those initial consultations, Dr Ripley would flirt with her, telling her she looked good for her age and asking if she worked out and if she lived alone.”

“He asked for her phone number, gave her personal information about himself, told her he was separated from his wife and that he and his wife had relationship problems.”

The ‘flattered’ patient gave Ripley her contact details and he began to send her saucy texts, the panel heard.

During ‘review appointments’ at the surgery Ripley gave her presents and they began to go on dates, the hearing was told.

“The doctor did use his professional position in relation to her pursue a relationship with her in the context of doctor patient consultations and in the context of his professional life,” Miss Emsley-Smith said.

“During at least one review they had sex in the consultation room at the surgery, during surgery hours,’ she added.

“The patient had concerns about the relationship and suggested she should get another doctor.”

“He discouraged her, stating it would mean he would never have the opportunity to see her. Dr Ripley texted her a number of times a day and the texts were sexual in nature.”

“She ended the relationship in March 2010, but he continued to message her.”

The woman then received a series of emails from Ripley in November 2010, which discussed another ‘tangle’ he had with his professional regulator.

Ripley was banned from working for three months by the GMC in May 2009 when it emerged he had been prescribing himself with addictive drugs for seven years.

The GP wrote out the scripts for powerful painkillers and sedatives in the names of elderly patients at his Nottingham surgery to avoid paying the fees.

He admitted taking the drugs himself after a partner at his Bulwell practice alerted Nottingham Primary Care Trust.

Ripley was allowed to return to work in August 2009, but conditions on his practise were not lifted until November 2010.

“At the end of January or the beginning of February 2012 the patient heard again from Dr Ripley by text,” said Miss Emsley-Smith.

“This text informed her he had received a letter asking for £15k, which he assumed was some kind of blackmail letter.”

Ripley said he thought it had been sent by her ‘crack-head boyfriend’, referring to her estranged husband, who he knew to have schizophrenia, the panel heard.

A string of threatening messages followed and in other messages Ripley allegedly claimed he had paid a ‘four-figure sum’ for somebody to kill her husband and said ‘he would never walk or talk again’ if he found out it was him who sent the letter.

Miss Emsley-Smith said: “The patient was really very scared having received those messages and felt unable to stay in her own home.”

One message stated: “If I go down my evil friends will rip ur implants out believe me.”

She called police and Ripley was arrested.

He admitted sending the messages during interview and accepted a caution for harassment, but said he had no intention of carrying out the threats, the panel heard.

The hearing continues.