Top surgeon suspended after domestic abuse convictions

Craig was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court
Craig was sentenced at Aberdeen Sheriff Court
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A leading surgeon has been suspended from practising for a year after it emerged he had been convicted of a string of assaults.

Dr Niall Craig, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon based in Aberdeen, was hauled before disciplinary bosses after he appeared in court last year.

The medic admitted two charges of assault to injury which related to domestic abuse incidents which took place between 2010 and 2016. He also admitted three charges of assaulting a child.

The 49-year-old appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in March last year was sentenced to a community payback order with a two-year supervision period.

He reported himself to the General Medical Council and has now appeared before a hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

The panel banned the surgeon, who worked at NHS Grampian as well as treating private patients, from working for 12 months and condemned him for his “shameful behaviour”.

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The doctor’s legal team that he was not a “violent man” and that none of the incidents related to the workplace.

They said he was stressed due to a heavy workload at the time of the offences and had shown “significant insight and remorse for his actions”.

However, the panel ruled his fitness to practice was impaired and criticised him for blaming the attacks on work pressures.

Catherine Hartley, chairwoman of the tribunal, said: “The Tribunal has considered the steps Dr Craig has taken to address his actions and to ensure that he would not repeat his behaviour. It was satisfied that Dr Craig’s remorse and regret is genuine.

“There was also no evidence before the Tribunal of any similar behaviour since these events. It concluded therefore that the risk of repetition is low.

“However, the tribunal were concerned that Dr Craig’s insight is partial and still developing.

“Although he did describe his remorse and shame at the incidents, this conflicted with the points at which he used language which appeared to minimise the pattern of violent behaviour which was outlined in his conviction record – referring to them at various points as ‘isolated incidents’, as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘irrational behaviour’.

“He repeatedly qualified his violent behaviour by reference to extrinsic events such as his work stress, tiredness, being hungry.

“Although the Tribunal was sympathetic to the work stressors that the doctor outlined in his evidence and which were supported by the testimonials of other witnesses, it was concerned that his focus on this as a root cause of his violent behaviour had detracted from his ability to properly develop insight into his criminal and shameful behaviour.

READ MORE: Husband facing jail over campaign of domestic abuse

“The Tribunal noted that much of the work that Dr Craig had done historically to develop insight was focused on what he thought was important, namely the need to manage work related stress rather than to undertake work or study to address the impact of the offending behaviour or analyse and properly reflect on the reasons why he personally resorted to violence on a number of occasions while under stress.”

The GMC’s legal team urged the tribunal to strike Dr Craig off the medical register but they said suspension was more appropriate due to his exemplary professional record.

Mrs Hartley added: “The Tribunal considered that a period of suspension would be a sufficient sanction and have a deterrent

effect and would send a signal to the doctor, profession and public that this violent behaviour was entirely unacceptable and viewed as a serious criminal offence.

“It also has a punitive effect, in that it prevents Dr Craig from practising, although this is not the intention.”

Dr Craig qualified as a doctor from Aberdeen University in 1992 and specialises in spinal surgery. In 2015 he helped pioneer a new type of bone graft using silk from moths in spinal fusion surgery.

The hearing was told that Dr Craig has also been suspended by NHS bosses.

A NHS Grampian spokesman said: “We have noted the decision of the panel.”