Sex Offender Doctors ‘Free To Treat Patients’

Eleven doctors are still free to work in the NHS despite being convicted of sex and child pornography offences, The Daily Telegraph can reveal today.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has imposed conditions on six of them but five are free to treat patients unsupervised, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

All those convicted of child pornography offences are only allowed to work under the condition they do not have contact with children.

The Daily Telegraph has been told that the GMC cannot strike them off automatically because it would contravene human rights laws.

It has also emerged that the GMC does not have access to the Sex Offenders Register and has to rely on the police to inform them of sexual offences and investigations.

The disclosures will fuel concerns about the effectiveness of the register and the backgrounds of some medical professionals working in the NHS.

David Davis, the shadow home affairs secretary, said last night: “Yet again we see another massive loophole in the Government’s sex offender legislation.

“When the register was established it was trumpeted as a major defence for people who would be vulnerable to the actions of sex offenders.

“The doctor-patient relationship is grounded fundamentally in trust. It is hard to see how such trust could be upheld when people are allowed to continue practising after committing a sexual offence — in itself this is a breach of trust.”

Joyce Robins, a co-founder of the pressure group Patient Concern, said she would like any judgement made by the GMC against a doctor to be displayed in their surgery.

She said: “The patients’ rights come first because we are the vulnerable ones.”

The GMC must be allowed access to the Sex Offenders Register, she added, because “the police are poor at communicating these things”.

In the last five years 52 doctors have appeared before the GMC after being convicted of sex or child pornography offences and 38 have been struck off.

Two remain suspended and one removed themselves from the register voluntarily.

Six — all convicted of child pornography offences — are still eligible to work with conditions, while five can work unsupervised.

The GMC said: “The GMC does not have access to a comprehensive list of individuals who are subject to reporting requirements in relation to the Sex Offenders Act. There are arrangements in place to ensure that the police notify us of criminal convictions.”

It states in its guidance to doctors: “Police forces inform the GMC when a doctor is charged, cautioned or convicted. Doctors are also required to inform the GMC directly.”

The GMC enquired about an automatic bar on doctors on the sex offenders register.

It said: “Advice was obtained from a leading QC who concluded that an automatic bar, without exceptions, would not be compatible with human rights legislation.”

The GMC’s rules on sexual misconduct:

The General Medical Council, requires any doctor with a conviction for sexual offences to appear before a fitness to practise panel.

The GMC’s own guidance says in cases of sexual misconduct where a doctor has abused their position of trust or is required to register as a sex offender, removal from the medical register is normally the only appropriate sanction.

On doctors convicted of child pornography offences, the guidance states that it is “highly likely that in such a case the only proportionate sanction will be erasure”. But it adds that the punishment must be proportionate and if necessary explain clearly why a doctor has not been struck off.

The guidance said any doctor on the sex offenders’ register could be banned from treating patients as part of the condition imposed on their practice.