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Sri Lankan immigrant doctor, 55, groped female patient, 24, and then tried to buy her silence, tribunal hears

A Sri Lankan-born GP has been found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct by a New South Wales tribunal.

The doctor faced the Civil and Administrative Tribunal on February 5 after the Health Care Complaints Commission filed an application for disciplinary orders against him in October 2022.

He denied complaints that he grabbed the breast of a female patient, 24, while treating her at a medical centre in western Sydney in 2019 and transferred her $5000 when her partner threatened to call police, but the tribunal found the allegations to have been proven.

The woman, dubbed Patient A by the tribunal, alleged that the doctor, then aged 55, commented on her clothes and said “Oh you’re all dressed up for me” and “I just want to take a picture of you, you look so good,” before taking photos of her with his phone, the tribunal heard.

Patient A told the tribunal the doctor she started to have a panic attack, and told him “I feel like my heart’s racing”, to which he said “I’ll check your chest” and then placed his hand inside her bra and grabbed her left breast.

She then called her partner, Patient B, who was waiting outside due to previous concerns she had that the doctor was “hitting on her”, the tribunal heard.

Patient B told the tribunal he entered the doctor’s office and threatened to call the police, and testified that the GP said: “Please don’t go to the police. Look at the colour of my skin. Please, I’m a black man. I can’t go to gaol. If I go to gaol, they’ll kill me. I have money. I’ll give you money.”

The doctor then transferred $5000 to Patient A’s bank account, Patient B told the tribunal.

Two years later the doctor claimed to Westpac that the transfer was fraudulent, telling the bank he had lost his bag containing his online banking information at the airport.

But the bank rejected his claim because a payee was set up with Patient A’s name at the time of the consultation, and the payment was authorised with two-factor authentication from the doctor’s mobile phone.

He later claimed to the tribunal that Patient B and a “large man” made the transfer while left alone in his office with access to his online banking information and unlocked phone, and then did not notice the missing money for two years.

“This account is inherently highly improbable, and we do not believe it,” the tribunal found, and also accepted Patient B’s evidence about their interactions leading up to the transfer, and Patient A’s evidence about the doctor’s comments and actions during the consultation.

The tribunal heard the doctor completed a medical degree in Sri Lanka before migrating to Western Australia before working as a GP at multiple different group practices, predominantly in WA but also in Victoria and New South Wales.

Further disciplinary hearings have been set for the coming months.

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