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Doctor has registration cancelled after sex with vulnerable patients

The Wellington family doctor who had sex with vulnerable women patients is being de-registered from practising medicine and he must pay a total of $31,700.

Photo: 123RF

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal also censured the doctor, Deane Drew, yesterday after he pleaded guilty to professional misconduct. The amount he has to pay includes $28,700 in costs with a $3000 fine.

He may apply for re-registration, but if he does, he will have to undertake a sexual misconduct assessment test at his own cost. He would also have to meet any conditions of the council, including complying with any council directions, recommendations or requirements for three years.

For the next three years, Dr Drew must also tell any further employers about the tribunal’s decisions and orders yesterday, which related to personal and or sexual relationships with four former patients – who have name suppression – between 1991 and 2016.

Dr Drew did not contest the charge and the tribunal said it had been established within two hours of the hearing beginning.

The charge against Dr Drew, which he accepted, included prescribing drugs of dependence and psychotrophic medications to three of the four women while they were patients and knowing that they were mentally vulnerable.

Counsel for the Medical Council’s professional conduct committee Kate Feltham told the hearing Dr Drew was the GP for two of the women for 20 years.

She said the shortest sexual relationship involved lasted seven months, while the longest was for many years.

She said it was a gross breach of trust by Dr Drew, that each of the women patients was vulnerable to differing degrees and Dr Drew took advantage of them in pursuing relationships with them.

The tribunal chair, Alison Douglass acknowledged Dr Drew’s admission of guilt and attendance at the hearing, saying it was appreciated.

However, she said: “This offending involved both sexual misconduct and inappropriate prescribing of psychotrophic medications…”.

The Medical Council chair, Curtis Walker, said Dr Drew would not be allowed to practise medicine again.

He also said the decision was what the public would expect, adding it was “the right decision for what was a serious breach of trust in the doctor-patient relationship”.

Dr Walker said it was never appropriate for a doctor to engage in a sexual relationship with a patient, and the council had a zero-tolerance position on doctors who breached sexual boundaries with a current patient.

He also acknowledged it would have taken “great strength for the women to come forward and give evidence against Dr Drew”.

At least two of the complainants attended yesterday’s hearing in Wellington, but none spoke, including to Drew, who sat alone behind his lawyer, Harry Waalkens.