Tribunal cancels practitioner’s registration after having a personal relationship with a patient

21 Sep 2018

A tribunal cancelled a Queensland medical practitioner’s registration after he had a personal relationship with a patient.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) found that Mr Neville Blomeley had engaged in professional misconduct, after he admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with his patient. The tribunal reprimanded Mr Blomeley, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from applying for registration for at least four years.

First tribunal hearing

In July 2012, the Medical Board of Australia (Board) received a complaint about Mr Blomeley from a patient alleging he had engaged in a personal and sexual relationship with them for about 18 months. Mr Blomeley admitted the relationship and the Board took immediate action to impose chaperone conditions on his registration and referred the matter to the tribunal.

In May 2014, the tribunal found the allegations about Mr Blomeley were proven and that he had behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct. At the time Mr Blomeley was reprimanded and had his registration suspended for a period of 15 months with chaperone conditions applying for a further 12 months on his return to practice.

A second notification

During the May 2014 tribunal proceedings, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) received an additional complaint from the same patient alleging their relationship with Mr Blomeley was ongoing. Mr Blomeley admitted that there had been some contact between them, but not of a sexual or intimate nature.

The Board considered the new allegations also constituted professional misconduct and began separate disciplinary proceedings. These proceedings included new allegations that Mr Blomeley had knowingly provided incorrect, inaccurate and/or misleading information to the tribunal, the Board and a practitioner he was receiving boundary violation counselling from and who was producing a report for the Board about his progress.

Mr Blomeley admitted to contact with the patient by telephone, email and in person, but maintained he had made genuine attempts to cease contact and denied the remaining allegations.

The second matter was heard before the tribunal in June 2017.

Second tribunal hearing

During the second tribunal hearing Mr Blomeley made further concessions about the amount of contact he had with the patient and accepted that he had not disclosed the continuing relationship to the practitioner from whom he was receiving counselling.

However, Mr Blomeley continued to dispute aspects of the allegations and implied his continued contact with the patient was done to placate them. He accepted that the patient could think, as a result of some of the communications, that he was giving her hope that a sexual relationship might restart and that some of his communication could have been seen as manipulative. Mr Blomely claimed that he considered the sessions with the practitioner from whom he was receiving counselling to be educational rather than counselling and therefore did not disclose the continuing relationship. He claimed that he did not do this to obtain a more favourable report.

The tribunal delivered its decision on 21 June 2018 and again found that Mr Blomely had engaged in professional misconduct and that the Board’s allegations were proven. The tribunal believed Mr Blomeley was not credible and showed a lack of candidness and honesty and that his behaviour was inconsistent with him being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the profession. As a result the tribunal cancelled his registration and disqualified him from reapplying for registration as a medical practitioner for four years, after which he would need to prove his fitness to practice to the Board.

In its decision the tribunal recorded:

  • the majority of the 450 phone calls were made by the Mr Blomeley to the patient and lasted between two and 20 minutes
  • despite his claims of taking steps to cease contact, evidence showed multiple, daily phone calls to the patient from his number, and emails
  • that it did not accept Mr Blomeley did not know that the practitioner’s counselling report would address more than the completion of the course, or that the report would address his insight and learning
  • Mr Blomeley knowingly allowed the practitioner to write a report consistent with beliefs Mr Blomeley had knowingly allowed him to form
  • Mr Blomeley was aware the Board and the tribunal would rely on this report, and
  • various statements by Mr Blomeley in the May 2014 proceedings were clearly incorrect, inaccurate and misleading and some of his evidence in the current proceedings was ‘clearly untrue’.

The tribunal added ‘His answers were evidence of his continuing refusal to accept responsibility and continuing willingness to lay blame’ at the patient, that his continued denials were an example of ‘his inability to take ownership’ and his failure to engage in any real counselling or seek help from colleagues showed ‘little real efforts at true rehabilitation’.

The 2014 decision and 2018 decision are published on the tribunal’s website.

 
 
Page reviewed 21/09/2018