A SENIOR doctor has been suspended for six months after groping a midwife’s leg weeks after he ran his hand up and down her inner thigh at a Christmas party.
Dr Michael Ross, a married father-of-two, was found to have carried out a string of “sexually motivated” acts against his female colleague in 2016 and 2017 which left her feeling sick and “mortified”.
At the time of the incidents, Dr Ross held senior medical education posts at Edinburgh University, but was dismissed in 2017.
He also works as a part-time GP at the Primrose Lane Medical Centre in Rosyth, Fife.
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The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester heard that Dr Ross and Miss A, a midwife, both attended the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Medical Education (CME) Christmas party on December 16 2016.
After the meal, a number of staff members went to the Hanover Tap pub where Dr Ross bought Prosecco for the group.
The tribunal heard that Miss A was sat on a bench seat next to Dr Ross, 44, when he assaulted her.
In evidence, she said: “My legs were uncrossed. I remember this because his hand was able to go right up my inner thigh. I remember that I could feel his skin through the fabric of my tights.
“He slid his hand up and down my inner thigh and was stroking under my dress. It was done in a very sexual way and not a friendly way.”
Miss A said she felt “humiliated and ashamed” and walked away from the table to sit with other colleagues, before phoning her husband to ask him to pick her up.
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The panel rejected Dr Ross’ account that he had rested his hand on her leg without realising and that no sexual touching took place.
Before Miss A left the Hanover Tap that night, Dr Ross approached her to apologise about his hand “accidentally being on her knee” as a result of the cramped seating and insisted she told him “this was what happens at Christmas parties”.
Miss A denied having ever said this and the panel said it did not find Dr Ross’ version of events convincing.
Another colleague present at the party said she had not noticed anything in Miss A’s demeanour that night that gave her cause for concern, and described her personality as “dramatic, flamboyant and chatty”.
A separate colleague said Dr Ross was not “a touchy feely person”.
Both witnesses were said to be credible and reliable by the Tribunal.
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However, the panel said Miss A’s account that she was “in a state of shock” and did not want anyone else to know what had happened because she “was mortified” was an “entirely plausible” response.
The tribunal noted that in the months immediately after the Christmas party, Miss A chose to go to work on days Dr Ross would not be present, decreased the number of days she worked at the CME and moved her desk to a location away from Dr Ross.
Eventually she was signed off sick from the university.
The determination in the case states: “The Tribunal determined that these actions were consistent with something having happened at the Hanover Tap.”
Miss A told the tribunal that she tried to “brush off” the incident initially and did not make a formal complaint to university bosses until March 2017.
In early 2017, the tribunal heard how Miss A attended another colleague’s leaving party during which her husband witnessed Dr Ross “rub his hand up and down Miss A’s back”, which she said left her feeling uncomfortable and traumatised.
In March 2017, she told the tribunal that Dr Ross had crouched down to look at a drawer unit next to her desk and “stroked her up and down on the inside of her left leg up to her knee in a suggestive way, and said to her ‘we have to look after your legs'”.
Miss A said she “wanted to vomit, left the room mortified and in a complete state”.
In its determination, the tribunal panel said they “did not find Dr Ross to be a credible witness”.
It said: “His demeanour before the tribunal was polish and, at times, his evidence gave the appearance of having been rehearsed.
“His credibility in the eyes of the tribunal was also diminished by the sheer implausibility of some of his evidence.”
In comparison the tribunal found Miss A’s evidence “persuasive and believable”.
Dr Ross has been suspended from working as a doctor for six months.
His registration will be revoked within 28 days unless he appeals.