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Specialist suspended for "misconduct".

A leading kidney transplant consultant, who had an extra marital affair relationship with a woman patient, has been suspended for 12 months.

Dr Richard Smith, 53, also lied during a hospital trust investigation into his conduct, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard.

Cambridge-educated Dr Smith was working at Bristol's Southmead Hospital's renal unit when he began an eight-month affair with a female patient, a beauty therapist known as Patient A, after he became fixated with her after asking her to remove her blouse so he could inspect a rash on her back.

The tribunal, sitting in Manchester, ruled his fitness to practise was "impaired by misconduct.”

The tribunal ruled that the "gravity of Dr Smith's misconduct" and deceit "would not be tolerated" and the tribunal suspended him for the maximum period.

Patient A was in Dr Smith's care between 2008 and 2012. He began a consensual sexual relationship with her in 2012 and they met for sex at hotels across the country, sometimes when he was attending conferences, the hearing was told. This continued until her husband found out and made a complaint to North Bristol NHS Trust, in October 2012.

The tribunal heard Dr Smith and Patient A discussed how to respond to the trust's investigation and agreed to deny there had been a sexual relationship. The denials continued until February 2013, when Dr Smith's wife found out about it and Patient A told him she was planning to tell the trust about the sexual nature of their relationship.

Dr Smith's contract with the trust was then terminated in May 2013.

Panel chairman Elisabeth Smith told him: ''The considerable remorse you expressed and the acknowledgement that your behaviour was both professionally and personally abhorrent were genuine. These proceedings have undoubtedly had a profound effect on you and in all the circumstances the Panel takes the view that the likelihood of you repeating your misconduct is extremely low.

''It is evident that you are a caring, highly competent and respected clinician in a speciality where experts are in short supply. It is clear that your services are greatly valued by both patients and colleagues alike. You are a specialist in a field in which there is a significant and growing need for highly skilled clinicians.''

However, in making its ruling, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service told Dr Smith: "It is the panel's view that, given the seriousness of your misconduct, the maximum period of suspension is necessary to maintain public confidence in the profession and to uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour."

 

 

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