Norwich GP who was suspended over secret three year affair with a patient is allowed to return to work
- Credit: Copyright Cavendish Press
A Norwich doctor who was suspended over a secret three year affair with a patient is to return to work after he expressed feelings of 'shame' over his cheating.
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).
The 63-year-old, 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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Last year he was suspended from practise for a year after he apologised for his 'despicable and sordid' behaviour. This week at a review hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, in Manchester, a panel decided Stone was fit to return to work after he said he had 'reframed his feelings' in terms of shame.
He had earlier claimed he found it 'difficult' to understand why the patient had become so attached to him and blamed the affair on him becoming 'confused' about his work and personal life.
Ruling his fitness to practice was no longer impaired, panel chairman Dr Matthew Fiander told Dr Stone that his new 'insight' had been 'impressive'. 'You provided an in-depth and thoughtful reflective statement which demonstrated a high level of self-awareness and seem to have developed sufficient insight to overcome the effects of your disorder and to effectively manage it,' he said. 'You stated that you have reframed your feelings in terms of shame, and this has helped you to move forward, but that you will never lose the memory of the shame that you felt. You stated that this would in itself be a protection against any further transgressions.
'You stated that you now fully understand your dishonesty and the consequences of your actions. You stated that you recognise that your actions could have made Patient A feel special and could have compounded any feeling of attachment that she may have had for you. You stated that it was clear that Patient A had suffered harm as a result of your failure to respond appropriately to challenges to your professional boundaries.'
He added that Stone had 'engaged wholeheartedly' with the process, despite his misconduct not being 'easily remediable'.
In a statement Dr Stone said he was 'initially aware' of her vulnerability but this became 'pushed aside' because of her 'confident personality and she was funny.' He said the relationship became 'flirtatious and sexual' and knew it should have ended but he wanted to 'do it face to face.'
He said his mistress started to become volatile and he began refusing to reply to her texts. In an email he wrote to a colleague after his cheating was exposed Stone confessed: 'I've had an inappropriate relationship with a patient and in trying to resolve this it has become extremely venomous.'
Dr Stone's suspension will expire on September 1, at the end of the 12 months.