DOCTOR STRUCK OFF FOR SERIOUS MISCONDUCT

A doctor from Scholes has been struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council for serious professional misconduct while working at Armley jail in Leeds.

John Sykes appeared in front of the GMC's Professional Conduct Committee for carrying out intimate examinations on prisoners without clinical justification between January 1997 and January 2002 when he was employed by the prison.

They found the doctor had performed examinations without a chaperone as agreed with his line manager and had inappropriately touched an inmate.

The hearing heard Sykes was repeatedly advised on how to conduct himself, particularly with regard to intimate examinations and he agreed verbally and by signing a 'protocol in relation to safe clinical practice' not to do these unless they were urgent, and then only in the presence of a chaperone.

The committee said in its findings: "Such irresponsible behaviour was indecent, an abuse of your professional position, intended to exploit a vulnerable patient and likely to bring the medical profession into disrepute."

Sykes attempted to visit this patient on his wing which was an abuse of his professional position.

The committee said such behaviour was inappropriate, irresponsible and unprofessional.

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Between 1997 and 1999 he saw another prisoner on numerous occasions and during these consultations he did not maintain an appropriate degree of distance from the inmate.

He also examined this patient without clinical justification and without a chaperone.

The committee determined this was a breach of the Prison Service Code of Conduct because Sykes was in breach of specific recommendations put in place in relation to his practice by the protocol.

He admitted he made two unauthorised social visits to this patient who had by that time been transferred to Liverpool and that on the day of his discharge Sykes took him shopping in Manchester, where he gave him money and gifts.

The committee recorded that they did not accept the evidence of the two patients without supporting independent evidence.

It said Sykes's relationships with the patients went beyond the normal doctor/patient relationship and were clearly improper and therefore in serious breach of guidance.

They recognised that no criticism had been made about his clinical competence. He had no previous findings against him and he was considered by many to be a good, caring doctor.

The committee told Sykes: "Taking into account the numerous allegations admitted or found proved against you, the committee consider that your conduct amounted to a gross departure from the standards expected of a registered medical practitioner. The committee therefore find you guilty of serious professional misconduct."

Sykes has 28 days to appeal.