Occupational therapist faces being struck off over sexual relationship

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By Cara Sulieman

AN occupational therapist faces being struck off after having a sexual relationship with a “vulnerable and complex” ex-patient.

Lynn Cameron was working at the South West Bridging Service in Glasgow when she admitted the relationship to her supervisor in 2007.

Although she wasn’t treating Patient A at the time, he had been in her care at her previous position at Rossdale Resource Centre.

Mairi Macpherson, Cameron’s supervisor at the time, told a Conduct and Competence Committee of the Health Professions Council in Edinburgh today (Tuesday) that Cameron had called her to admit the relationship.

“Professional suicide”

She said: “She told me that she needed to tell me that she was in a relationship with Patient A.

“She was initially a little tearful but she was actually quite matter-of-fact about the fact that she was in a relationship with Patient A.

“This was the first time that I was aware that she was in a relationship with a service user.

“What was on my mind was that she had committed professional suicide – she had breached her code of conduct in the most appalling and major way and that we had a very long road ahead of us to progress the situation.”

Ms Macpherson – head of occupational therapy for the Mental Health Partnership of southwest Glasgow – went on to say that Cameron had been warned for “over familiar” behaviour with patients in 2003, resulting in her being moved to a different position.

“Gossip”

Ms Macpherson said: “In 2003 concerns were raised that Miss Cameron in a flirtatious and over-familiar manner with service users.

“There was a lot of gossip, rumour and hearsay, about her conduct at that time.”

But it was Ms Macpherson’s impression that the issue had been dealt with in 2003.

She said: “Over several meetings I voiced my concerns and her senior occupational therapist was also discussing the concerns more specifically with her.

“It was decided to move Miss Cameron to give her a fresh start in a more supervised environment.”

Cameron was seconded to the Southwest Bridging Service in April 2007 from her position at Rossdale Resource Centre.

“Conflict of interest”

She discharged all her patients – including Patient A – by mid-June 2007.

But the panel – led by Mr John Williams – heard that she could have been asked to treat the 25-year-old Patient A at any time.

Gwen Kavanagh, the Lead Allied Health Professional with Mental Health Partnership in the south of Glasgow, explained: “Patient A could have been referred to the bridging service at any time or Miss Cameron could have been asked to come back to the Rossdale Resource Centre.

“There would have been a conflict of interest if this had happened.”

Ms Kavanagh also told the panel that Cameron had tried to defend herself during the internal disciplinary process that came about as a result of her admission.

“Very unwell”

She said: “Miss Cameron argued she had discharged Patient A from her case load and he was no longer her patient.

“She said that she would have excused herself from any further treatment of Patient A.

Mairi Macpherson also told the panel about an incident where Patient A had kissed Cameron on the cheek.

She said: “On that occasion he was being admitted to hospital because he was very unwell and had kissed Miss Cameron on the cheek.

“We had discussed it in terms of how Patient A’s behaviour became more flirtatious when he was unwell and how best to deal with it.”

Elizabeth Taheri, who was representing the Health Professions Council, said that Cameron’s actions impaired her ability to continue practicing.

“Grave lack of professional judgement”

She said: “Miss Cameron met Patient A at an open day at Cardonald College in August 2007, which she attended in a professional capacity, and he had asked her about.

“Her argument was that yes, he was a service user, but she had discharged him in June 2007 and had only started seeing him in a romantic way in August 2007.

“That is only a matter of weeks, and this demonstrates a staggering lack of insight and a grave lack of professional judgement.

“Patient A has been described as a 25-year-old male who had been having in-patient treatment from a mental health service since he was diagnosed at 18-years-old.

“He was, and still is, a vulnerable and complex patient.”

The hearing continues tomorrow (Wednesday) when the panel will deliver their verdict.

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