Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Surgeon ‘told patient she was a

Married NHS surgeon, 44, ‘told patient she was a “lovely lady” with a “nice smile” while he examined her foot then asked her out for coffee leaving her “embarrassed” and wanting to get out’

  • Dr Vishwajeet Kumar, 44, of Wigan, allegedly left the woman feeling confused 
  • Father-of-one allegedly placed woman’s foot on his thigh during appointment 
  • He subsequently sent her WhatsApp messages saying: ‘Can I come and see you’
  • Kumar felt he had a ‘connection’ because both had gone through bereavements 
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Dr Vishwajeet Kumar, 44, leaves his Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester yesterday

An NHS orthopaedic surgeon hugged a patient and told her ‘you’ve made my day’ while examining her feet, a tribunal has heard.

Dr Vishwajeet Kumar, 44, allegedly left the woman feeling embarrassed and confused after telling her that she had a ‘lovely smile’ – adding: ‘Can I just say what a lovely lady you are’.

The married father-of-one, who works at Wrightington Hospital in Wigan, Greater Manchester, also allegedly placed the woman’s foot on his thigh during the 15-minute appointment and suggested the pair go out for lunch or coffee together.

He subsequently sent her WhatsApp messages saying: ‘Can I come and see you. It’s nice to see you today, I hope that you have a good rest of your day.’

Kumar claimed he made the comments as he felt he had a ‘connection’ with the woman as both had gone through recent family bereavements.

But he was reported to the General Medical Council which said his comments were ‘inappropriate’ and accused of him of pursuing an affair with the patient. Kumar, from Standish, Wigan, denies sexually motivated misconduct.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service was told the consultation at the hospital took place in February 2017 after the woman known as Patient A had gone to Kumar for physiotherapy on her feet following surgery she had to undergo due to a fall.

Kumar claimed he made the comments as he felt he had a ‘connection’ with the woman

Peter Atherton, lawyer for the GMC, told the hearing in Manchester: ‘Dr Kumar behaved inappropriately with Patient A. 

‘During this meeting he said: ‘can I just say what a lovely lady you are’, ‘you’ve got a lovely smile’, ‘you’ve made my day’ and ‘you’re my last patient’. 

‘He then hugged Patient A. What is alleged is that he also invited her out for lunch and a coffee and said ‘can I come and see you’.

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‘It is also alleged that he placed her foot on his thigh for longer than needed. At the end of the consultation Dr Kumar then sent her a message saying ‘it’s nice to see you today, I hope that you have a good rest of your day.’ 

‘The messages then continued. We say these were inappropriate approaches in an attempt to establish an improper relationship. The course of conduct was sexually motivated.’

Giving evidence, the woman, aged in her 50s, said: ‘My foot was in his lap and I thought that wasn’t right. He then made a comment that I didn’t think was right and I started to feel uncomfortable that my foot was still in his lap. 

‘I found his comments confusing to start with, but I suppose when compliments are made, you look at that person in a different way. I was a bit embarrassed actually.

‘He did say to me that I was the last patient of the morning and that I made his day, and he said do you want to get a coffee. 

‘The way I felt and the things he was saying wasn’t what I went to the consultation for. I felt very uneasy, very awkward and quite unhappy about it really – I actually wanted to get out.’

‘I came out feeling very confused and although I did think he was quite nice, it was not a consultation that I expected. When somebody makes a compliment, you look at that person in a slightly different way. 

‘My feelings in that room where of being uncomfortable and I was trying to distract him away from the compliments. I was there about my foot and nothing else.’

The hearing was told the patient agreed to give the doctor her mobile phone number and she replied to one of his text messages saying: ‘Yes, I had a good day, you? I just went to see a friend.’

But it was claimed the friendship soured when the patient noticed Kumar’s profile picture on his WhatAspp messages included pictures of his family and she realised he was married with a son aged ten.

The doctor suggested the pair could be friends, but she was said to have responded: ‘I have enough male friends, I would want it to be more than that.. If you have a wife, that is against my principles.’

Kumar himself told the hearing: ‘This is clearly just a one-off incident which I am regretful of. It’s something that I never should have done and I am regretful of that. 

‘I have learned more and I am starting to take it more seriously since the incident. I am respecting professional barriers and I have always had a good professional relationship with my patients.

‘I am more pro-active in what the new guidelines say. I have made a mistake and it is a one-off mistake. I will never let it happen again in my professional career.’

When asked why he hugged the patient Kumar added: ‘ It was just an instinct without giving it any thought. 

‘It was in good faith because the patient was friendly and talkative. We were talking about family, and she had nice mannerisms. I still feel like she had a good consultation.

‘I felt like I connected with her. I was recovering from going through bereavement myself – both my father and my mother had died recently. 

‘My intention was to help this patient, she had three falls in December. I understand that I was not professional, but I wanted to help her.

‘Yes, I made a mistake – I am a human. I am a doctor, and I consider myself to be a nice and caring doctor and my patients are always at the centre of what I do. 

‘I would not say that I thought she was attractive, I just found her engaging and nice. I would refrain from saying she is an attractive woman.

‘I felt connected to her emotions and feelings. I would never go out for lunch or coffee with a patient. I remember recommending that she got a coffee, but I didn’t invite her for one. I wanted a friendship, I wanted to talk about bereavements.

‘I understand my wife is there for me, but she is not able to give as much support as I hope. My best friends are not here either. I understand I should have discussed this with my colleagues, and patients are not friends.

‘My relationship with my wife is very good, we have been married for 15 years, we share the same values and culture. She is fully supportive, but what I am saying is that there is less support from her because she is suffering from loss as well.’

The hearing continues. 

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