Suspension of Norwich GP who had ‘sordid and despicable’ relationship with vulnerable patient to be reviewed
- Credit: Copyright Cavendish Press
A tribunal is set to review the suspension of a Norwich doctor who had an affair with a 'extremely vulnerable' patient for three years,
Dr Robert Stone, who worked at Hellesdon Medical Practice, was suspended in August last year by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service after he admitted the affair and referred himself to the General Medical Council (GMC).
Dr Stone, 63, admitted he 'developed an improper and emotional and sexual relationship' with a woman in her 30s - who has since died and is known only as Patient A - from November 2011.
The woman had a history of depression and suicidal thoughts, with a recorded suicide attempt, and also had issues with alcohol misuse and dependency. Alongside this she had been made redundant and had relationship issues.
But sexual text messages were exchanged between the woman and father-of-one Dr Stone, who had been a GP for more than 30 years.
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He also travelled to her home for sex, and the pair were found to have engaged in 'kissing and touching' in a consultation room at Hellesdon Medical Practice.
The extent of their relationship came to light when Dr Stone stopped returning Patient A's text messages, so she confronted Dr Stone and his wife at their home.
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At the tribunal hearing, held last year, Dr Stone said the situation was 'sordid and despicable'. But it was found issues of unequal power in relationships were difficult for him and he found it hard to understand and empathise with Patient A's attachment to him.
A statement was also included from Patient A where she said she felt 'emotionally traumatised' by the events.
Dr Stone faced being struck off for misconduct, but instead was suspended from practice for a year.
His wife and family stood by him throughout the hearing, where panel chairman Dr Susan O'Connor said: 'The tribunal considers that you were not predatory. You in fact wanted to help and care for Patient A and having made the wrong choice you were very confused by your different professional and personal responsibilities.'
She added: 'You have shown genuine and profound remorse and shame.'
• The next hearing will be held on August 10, in Manchester.