Hotline launched for former patients of Plaistow GP convicted of sex attacks
Newham health bosses have launched a helpline for former patients of family GP Dr Haleem Bhatti who faces jail for a number of sex assaults.
The GP, who was working at Greengate Medical Centre, was convicted at Inner London Crown Court of four counts of sexual assault on different women and one charge of sexual assault by penetration on another victim. The assaults took place at the Barking Road, Plaistow surgery during a three-year period between September 2006 and July 2009.
Now, in the aftermath of his conviction bosses at Newham NHS East London and the City have launched a helpline for other additional victims.
Dr Sadru Kheraj, medical director of NHS East London and the City, told the Recorder that although the Greengate Medical Centre had a policy of offering patients chaperones “Dr Bhatti circumvented it and did not follow it. Patients complained to the practice and the practice took those complaints seriously.
“Once it was established that there were significant concerns, it was only a matter of days before action was action.”
Concerns were raised in July 2009 and were followed by an investigation by the PCT. Dr Bhatti was then suspended from practising as a GP by the General Medical Council, the professional regulatory body for doctors.
However Dr Kheraj urged Newham residents to remember that : “The majority of doctors are there because they want to be doctors. They are not there for malevolent reasons. People like Dr Bhatti will do everything they can to circumvent procedures.
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“We deeply regret that this happened. Thankfully, these cases are rare and there are a range of safeguards including a chaperone service available in all practices. The doctor will ask if you if you would like someone else in the room during an examination. Please do not hesitate to ask for a chaperone if it will put you at your ease. The GP will not be upset if patients request a same sex chaperone.
“If you, as a patient feel, that a doctor is acting inappropriately we would ask you to raise this immediately with practice staff or through our patient advice and liaison service PALs on free-phone 0800 380 3093 or by email email@example.com
“To support patients of Dr Bhatti NHS East London and the City have set up a confidential helpline for anyone who would like to talk about their experience. We can offer counselling and support in making a complaint, should a patient wish to follow this up.
“We would encourage anyone who may feel that they have been treated inappropriately by Dr Bhatti to call the helpline. The number is 0345 602 8175 and the line is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm until August 5 2011.”
Detective Constable Andy Davenport, who led the investigation on Dr Bhatti from Forest Gate Police Station, said there were “potentially” additional victims who had not yet come forward for a variety of reasons. He urged them to contact the surgery and speak to the practice manager or the NHS Helpline. They can also contact the police directly by calling 101.
He said women coming forward would be treated in confidence and if their complaints were serious enough they would be referred to the police and investigated thoroughly.