Scottish Daily Mail
GP dodges sack af ter thumping his patient
A FAMILY GP who punched a patient he had been sent to help escaped being struck off yesterday. Dr Martin Thom, 43, was suspended from practising for two months after a disciplinary hearing was told he lashed out at the man after feeling threatened and illequipped to assist.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel in Manchester condemned his ‘lack of respect for patient care’.
Thom was sent to examine a man found slumped in the street in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, because the town’s only ambulance was already on an emergency call.
But he snapped when the patient, who seemed to be drunk or on drugs, became aggressive and resisted attempts to examine him.
Thom thumped him twice on the head and pushed him against a wall.
Hearing chairman Michelle Codd said: ‘The assault took place on a vulnerable patient whom you had been summoned to assist as part of your on-call duties.
‘Your behaviour demonstrated a lack of respect for patient care.
‘By your admission of guilt, you accepted you exceeded the level of force that was justified.
‘You have been candid in your acceptance of your wrongdoing, you have apologised and have accepted full responsibility.
‘It was a mitigating factor that you were required to attend the complainant when you were uncertain about the situation and whether you would be adequately equipped, although this does not excuse your behaviour.
‘You are highly thought of by professional colleagues and others... this was a one-off incident.
‘You stated that you felt threatened. You said the patient approached you and shoved you before punching you three times to your head. You tried to defend yourself.’ The attack happened on May 12, 2015, when a 999 call was received about a young man lying in the street. Thom was contacted to respond as he was preparing to leave work for the day.
The GP told the hearing: ‘The patient could have been drunk, fallen over, head injury, heart attack, stroke, it could be someone who had been hit by a car and I felt not very well prepared.
‘I would not be in a position to deal with all the eventualities that an ambulance might be. I was agitated about attending.
‘I assaulted this man. I took hold of him and there was a struggle. I punched him twice. I have no recollection of doing so.
‘What I did was totally inappropriate. All I can do is apologise. I still feel embarrassed.’
The identity of the victim is not known. Thom has since attended courses on handling aggression.
The GP, who has worked at Fraserburgh’s Saltoun Surgery for 11 years and lives in nearby Ellon, was convicted of assault at Peterhead Sheriff Court last November and fined £360.
During the hearing, Sheriff Andrew Miller noted Thom had been under ‘significant pressures with heavy workloads’.