Norwich doctor cleared to practise after four-year ordeal under sexual misconduct allegations
PUBLISHED: 08:55 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 08 October 2019
Archant Norfolk 2016
A four-year ordeal for a Norwich doctor suspended after accusations of sexual misconduct has come to an end after a tribunal cleared him to practise.
Dr Ashok Singh, of Eaton, was cleared of 10 counts of sexual assault against four different women after a trial at Norwich Crown Court in 2016.
But despite the psychiatrist and trainee GP saying three years ago he wanted to "move on" with his life, he remained under investigation by the General Medical Council.
Last week the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled that while Dr Singh's behaviour had, one on occasion, fallen below acceptable standards, it did not impair his fitness to practise. It found there was no case to answer for other allegations.
One of his accusers, Patient A claimed in October 2000 he touched her inappropriately.
Another - Miss C - alleged that in May 2014 he intentionally slid his hand across her breast during a consultation with her son, while another, Patient D, alleged inappropriate touching.
But the tribunal ruled Patient A was not a "credible or reliable witness".
Patient D had been seen by Dr Singh with a cough and during a chest examination claimed he had handled her breast without warning.
Dr Singh said of the incident: "It's her body, it's her breast and I'm sure what she's saying is right. My job was basically to listen to her heart sound. In doing do I was not expecting to completely undress her, but to make skin to skin contact I have to listen to her chest."
Dr Singh also confirmed the patient has started crying during the consultation.
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An expert told the tribunal it was "common practice" to lift the breast to hear the heart, and the patient told the tribunal if Dr Singh had explained what he was going to do "we wouldn't be here".
The tribunal dismissed the GMC case that Dr Singh's actions were sexually motivated, saying instead he "felt under time pressure, didn't fully explain what he was about to do, and didn't do it well".
But they found Dr Singh failed to get the patient's consent or offer her a chaperone when the examination was likely to involve touching an "intimate area".
He had admitted throughout he failed to communicate properly with his patient about what he was about to do.
But the tribunal ruled his fitness to practise was not impaired, as it has been a "well-intentioned but clumsy and rushed examination".
Chairman Lindsay Irving said: "Whilst the tribunal has found Dr Singh's conduct to be seriously below the expected standard, each of the elements of the allegation found proved are interrelated and concern a single examination of a single patient on a single occasion.
"It determined that he had conducted it in an inept manner but with good intent and attempted consideration for the patient's dignity in that he was trying to avoid her having to undress."
Dr Singh qualified from medical school in India in 1993 before taking up a post in the UK in 1999.
Between 2000 and 2004 he worked in psychiatry in Millbrook in King's Mill Hospital.
In 2012 he decided to retrain as a GP and spent 18 months working at the N&N before moving to the Hellesdon GP practice for his final training placement between 2014 and 2015.
But he did not complete his GP training after being suspended in 2014, and stood trial at Norwich Crown Court in November 2016 over the allegations.