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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Nigerian doctor facing further sanctions by UK tribunal for alleged sexual relations with patient

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A Nigerian doctor in the UK, Ewere Onyekpe, accused of having sex with a patient in a hospital’s toilet cubicle, has been suspended for an additional six months.

Mr Onyekpe is said to have begun a sexual relationship with the woman while employed as a locum registrar at the Whittington Hospital, London.


Newslodgeearlier reported in 2023 how the Medical Practitioners Tribunal of the General Medical Council (MPT of the GMC) – a medical regulatory body in the UK, imposed a sanction of a six-month suspension on Mr Onyekpe’s practising licence after he was found guilty by an investigative tribunal.

Having completed the six-month suspension, the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) appealed against the MPT’s decision before a UK court on the ground that it failed to take into account the vulnerability of the patient within the allegation.

However, a tribunal hearing in February reconsidered the case. It determined that Mr Onyekpe’s registration should be suspended for 12 months having been found guilty of misconduct which was later reduced to six months to reflect the suspension already served.


The details of the case and decisions of the tribunal chaired by Tanveer Rakhim are highlighted in a 61-page document exclusively obtained by Newslodgeafter the hearing held from 12 February to 29 February.

How it happened

The tribunal heard that Mr Onyekpe, a Nigerian-born medical doctor, examined the patient after she was brought to the Whittington Hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department by ambulance on 5 June 2020.

He made a diagnosis of sciatica and prescribed pain-killing medication for her and had an “intimate examination” which was considered to be appropriate.

It was Mr Onyekpe’s “unchallenged evidence” that before the patient left the hospital, she gave him her telephone number on a piece of paper saying ‘in case you want to be friends or anything’.


Mr Onyekpe sent the patient a WhatsApp message an hour after she was discharged from A&E and the pair exchanged messages over the coming days.

On 10 June, she was brought back to Whittington’s emergency department where she exchanged messages with the doctor for three-and-a-half hours which became “personal and highly sexualised.”

The pair had consensual sexual intercourse in the hospital’s toilet cubicle that same day, the tribunal heard. The next day, Mr Onyekpe went to the patient’s home and again had consensual sex with her.

The tribunal further heard that the pair continued to exchange sexual messages, interspersed with medical advice from Mr Onyekpe, until 24 July 2020.

On 3 August 2020, Mr Onyekpe was arrested on suspicion of raping the patient but the police released him without charge, after which GMC found out about the facts of his arrest.

Demands for erasure from medical records

The representative of the medical regulatory body, Rosalind Emsley-Smith, submitted at the tribunal that the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case was one of erasure.

Ms Emsley-Smith stated that Mr Onyekpe had admitted the majority of the allegations he faced before the tribunal and the totality of the allegations he had faced before a previous tribunal.

About the aggravating factors of the case, Ms Emsley-Smith submitted that Mr Onyekpe used his position as a doctor to pursue a sexual and improper emotional relationship with the “vulnerable” patient.

Ms Emsley-Smith submitted that the only way to remedy the damage to the reputation of the profession, which she said had occurred as a consequence of Mr Onyekpe’s decisions and conduct, would be to erase his name from the medical register.

However, in his defence, the doctor’s representative, James Counsell, submitted that Mr Onyekpe accepts responsibility for his misconduct, reminding the tribunal that it occurred nearly four years ago.

Mr Counsell submitted that Mr Onyekpe has always acknowledged that “his behaviour transgressed professional boundaries and that he had let everybody down, including himself, his family and his colleagues.”

He stated that Mr Onyekpe was a family man with a supportive wife and referred to the various testimonials that spoke of him as a man with integrity.

Mr Counsell stated that the GMC accepted that the relationship was entirely consensual. He referred to the rape allegation and Mr Onyekpe’s arrest in the presence of his wife, as well as the investigation by the GMC and the Trust, and how he cooperated with the entire process.

After the submissions, the tribunal concluded that Mr Onyekpe’s conduct, spanning seven weeks, demonstrated a failure to prioritise the care of the patient, “who was vulnerable at all material times.”

Tribunal’s decision, conclusion

The tribunal concluded that the misconduct was adequately addressed with the substantive suspension, adding that it is not necessary to impose an immediate order of suspension on Mr Onyekpe’s registration.

“This means that Mr Onyekpe’s registration will be suspended from the medical register 28 days from the date on which written notification of this decision is deemed to have been served unless he lodges an appeal,” the tribunal noted

“If Mr Onyekpe does lodge an appeal he will remain free to practice unrestricted until the outcome of any appeal is known.

“For the same reasons, the tribunal also determined to revoke the interim order of conditions with immediate effect.”

About Onyekpe

Mr Onyekpe, born in Nigeria, received his medical qualification in 2003 from Kharkiv State Medical University in Ukraine. He began his medical practice in Nigeria, with the Nigerian Army, before moving to the UK in 2008.

According to the document, he pursued a Master’s in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and passed the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test (PLAB) in 2010 and he began full-time medical practice in the UK the same year.

Mr Onyekpe initially worked at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital before working at the North Middlesex Hospital as an SHO and then as a Trust Registrar for six years, before briefly working in Basildon as a speciality doctor.

In 2016, he entered a formal training programme and began work as an ST1 in Emergency Medicine and completed ST3 training in 2019.

Mr Onyekpe was employed as a locum registrar at the Whittington Hospital, where the index events took place, from August 2019 until November 2019, and then March 2020 to the end of June 2020. He was working a 60-hour week, five days per week, working exclusively on nights.


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