GP Who Made Unwanted Advances to Patients Suspended

Sophie Wheeler

March 02, 2020

MANCHESTER — A GP from Cambridgeshire who made unwanted advances towards female patients is to keep his job after he blamed his conduct on being a ''friendly enthusiastic'' doctor who ''goes the extra mile''.

Dr Stuart Creed, 51, had faced career ruin for sexual misconduct after he told one woman: ''Your husband's really lucky - you are perfect the way you are'' and saying: ''I think your hair looks nice'' to another.

The married dermatology specialist who was treating the women for skin conditions at surgeries in Cambridge was said to have become ''over familiar'' with them.

He hugged the first woman known as Patient A during a home visit in which he said: ''Maybe I shouldn't say but I really like you as a person. I know this is wrong but you are very hot - can I give you a hug?''

The second woman known as Patient B who had psoriasis claimed the doctor told her: ''I don't know what you're worrying about you look just fine'' and said she was ''lovely and just right'' during a consultation at his surgery.

She also claimed he would drive his car slowly past a car showroom where she was working whilst looking at her through the window. She said he turned up unannounced at her workplace, sat at her desk, crossed his legs and declared: ''Hi, how's your head? I really tried to fix it.''

'Low Risk'

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester, Dr Creed faced being struck off after being found guilty of sexually motivated misconduct towards Patient A and attempting to engage in an inappropriate emotional relationship with Patient B.

However, he was given 12 months suspension and could be free to return to work next year after handing in testimonials which detailed his ''clumsy and impulsive communication'' skills and his ability to ''accidentally rub others up the wrong way".

Dr Creed who has since attended courses on maintaining boundaries admitted hugging Patient A and turning up unannounced at Patient B's work place but denied making sexually charged remarks and advances.

Panel Chair Linda Lee said: ''It was not clear to the Tribunal if Dr Creed fully understood the impact of his actions on Patient A and Patient B. He appeared to be primarily concerned about the impact of his actions on himself and his family.

''Whilst it is clear that Dr Creed has reflected on some aspects of his behaviour, the Tribunal questions if the strategies he has put in place will be effective in the future. He needs to develop his insight in order to fully remediate and reflect on the impact his behaviour had on Patient A and Patient B. There is a risk of repetition but it is a low risk and there is a good prospect that the doctor could remediate.''

Inappropriate

The incidents took place between February 2015 and 2018 whilst Dr Creed was working at the York Street Medical Practice and then the Buckden Surgery in Cambridge.

Patient A had been signed off work with anxiety and had hair loss. During consultations at the surgery, it was alleged Dr Creed told the woman: ''You look really fit'' made various comments about her physical appearance and said she would find another partner ''very easily''.

On March 30th 2017 he was said to have ''insisted'' on visiting Patient A at home when she said it was 'not needed', and it was claimed he tried to hold her hand and sat down next to her on the sofa.

He told her: ''You should stop worrying, you are perfect the way you are.  I have tried to let you know I feel something but it is difficult to say. I really care about you, you know that. Maybe I shouldn't say that but I really like you as a person.'' He also asked her ''how many times a week'' she had sex before he left her home 30 minutes later.

The hearing was told Patient B claimed Dr Creed complimented her during visits to his surgery and alleged when she told him she had split from her boyfriend the GP replied: ''oh well, I think he's an idiot because you look lovely''.

He also said he would "pop in'' to her workplace and later turned up at the showroom in March 2018 and told her he had ''been by to see her at work a few times but every time she had been busy''. He subsequently left voicemail messages on her mobile phone.

'Massive Wake-up Call'

Dr Creed, who lives in the village of Stapleford, Cambridge, denied wrongdoing and said:  ''I’m just a doctor who goes the extra mile and who has a long history of patient positivity about me.

''Part of my role as a doctor is to try to reassure patients and when they are upset about something it seems to me to be an appropriate thing to say: 'your hair looks fine to me'. I’m a doctor who had had 25 years of patients thanking me, praising me and appreciating me for going the extra mile.

''I'm providing reassurance with no other motive here and I’m trying to give my patient the benefit of the doubt but obviously my mindset is wrong and it needs to be much more aware. What's happened has been a massive wake-up call for me - but I'm not a stalker."

He added: ''I have consequently set firm boundaries for myself around visiting patients at home or interacting with them in the community or any other setting. I will never visit a female patient aged 15-50 without a chaperone present even if they give their consent to such a visit, and I will never deliberately engage with a patient in the community or other setting beyond a polite "hello" if I pass them in the street.

''I need to extend my learning regarding how to more carefully communicate in the consultation setting to ensure that I do not elicit a friendliness that causes unease in patients and I need to spend more time reflecting on how a patient may be feeling  as a result of their interaction with me, particularly if the consultation is perceived in any way to have been difficult for either me or especially the patient.''

A character reference submitted on Dr Creed's behalf from a church colleague said: ''Occasionally, his friendly enthusiasm can cause him to communicate clumsily and slightly impulsively on a topic, but my observation is that he often recognises this or is happy to be picked up on it, and quickly seeks to clarify his thoughts or apologise as appropriate."

Colleague Dr Paolo Fargnoli said in a statement: ''Dr Creed said his training had always been to put patients first but had failed to adapt to patients’ change in culture when it came to their interaction. The boundary course had helped with this and that he understands the necessity to follow strict pathways to the letter. He appreciated that he had been slow to learn and that he has made mistakes.''

Sophie Wheeler is a journalist with the Cavendish Press news agency in Manchester.

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