A Nigerian doctor, who has been involved in a four-year ordeal after being accused of mistreating patients at a surgery has spoken of the effect the case has had on his family.
Dr Abiodun Bale has been told by the Court of Appeal he was free to return to work after a top judge overturned his suspension on Monday, March 28th.
Dr. Bale, who at the time lived in Moston, Manchester, was accused of behaving inappropriately after a female patient identified as Maria Hindle claimed he had grabbed her arm during a consultation and raised his voice to her at Hyndburn Medical Practice in Oswaldtwistle in 2013.
The 45-year-old was training to be a GP at the Hyndburn Medical Practice in Acrington, when the allegations were first made in 2013. He was found guilty of assaulting the patient at Burnley Crown Court in 2014, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing following an appeal.
However, he was suspended from practice for nine months by a Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel iin July 2016. The panel concluded he had behaved inappropriately towards the woman and to a second female patient, and also lied during his trial.
Mr Justice Collins told the court there had never been any criticism of Dr Bale’s skills as a doctor and that it would be wrong to take any further action against him.
“I should say there is no indication that, before or since these events, he has behaved in any way which would be contrary to good practice as a doctor and there is no suggestion he is anything other than a competent practitioner.” the judge added
But, allowing his appeal and lifting his suspension, Mr Justice Collins ruled the panel was wrong to conclude his denial was “tantamount to perjury”.
“The tribunal was indeed wrong to find that what he had done was dishonest, or that he had committed perjury before the criminal courts. In the circumstances of this case, having regard in particular to the suspension he has already served, it would be wrong to do other than take no action against him”
But the Lagos-trained GP said a crown court trial, medical tribunals and the appeal have taken its toll on the wellbeing of himself and his wife and family.
The doctor maintained his innocence throughout the various proceedings and has now been given the all-clear by the appeal courts to continue his carer. He no longer wants to be a GP but is a qualified specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology.
“There have been great physical, psychological, social and financial consequences of this case for me. My family and I have been put through unwarranted misery. Nobody should have to go through this.
“It is a wonderful concept in civilised societies like ours to protect patients, but somebody should also be looking out for doctors who have unfortunately found themselves in situations like mine.”
He believes he has been ‘let down by the system’ as well as having to pay a heavy price financially to re-establish his right to practice. But he is glad ‘commons sense’ prevailed in the end.
Dr Bale added:
“The last four years have been a horrible ordeal professionally and the last eight months have been unspeakably stressful for my wife, kids, our extended families and for me”