An orthopaedic surgeon who forced himself on a junior doctor has escaped punishment after he arranged a series of public events in which he “held himself out” as an example in the hope of preventing sexual harassment in the NHS.
Dr Milind Mehta, 48, asked the woman into his office at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Moray on the pretext of showing her medical slides, only to then press himself against her chest before kissing her repeatedly around the neck and shoulder.
Afterwards the colleague asked Mehta if he had tricked her into going in to his office, to which he laughed and replied: “I hope you did not get the wrong idea.”
The woman was said to have been “uncomfortable” during the encounter, complained to senior colleagues and during an investigation into Mehta, a patient’s mother and a NHS manageress also claimed he had behaved inappropriately towards them.
At the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service, Mehta was found guilty of sexually motivated misconduct towards the doctor but a disciplinary panel imposed no sanction on him after learning the surgeon was so remorseful he arranged presentations for up to 75 colleagues at a time in which he used himself as a case study and spoke openly about his misdemeanours and urged fellow doctors to learn from his mistakes.
The Manchester hearing was told the incident occurred on February 26 2015.
In imposing no sanction, chairman Stuart McLeese said: “Since these events you have undertaken extensive remediation, including a number of courses on respecting professional and personal boundaries. It is clear that you have been extremely open with colleagues, sharing your experiences and what you have learned from them.
“You are clearly remorseful for your behaviour and the tribunal is satisfied that you are highly unlikely to repeat.”
But Laura Tomson, co-director of the charity Zero Tolerance, said: “How an organisation handles sexual harassment sends a powerful message about how its female employees are valued.
“In this case the tone of the judgement and colleagues’ comments celebrate the perpetrator, while it remains unclear how Grampian NHS worked to support the women who reported Dr Mehta.
“No matter how remorseful a harasser is, it is vital that workplace policies function first and foremost to protect victims.”