Clinician guilty of misconduct

By COREY CHARLTON


A Hawke's Bay psychologist has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct after comparing social workers to child abusers, laughing at a suggestion made by the mother of an abused child and other misdemeanours.

During a period of 2 years, Hawke's Bay District Health Board clinician Nicholas Owen Drury, 63, was found to have made inappropriate comments to clients and caregivers, adopted a sarcastic attitude to colleagues and made derogatory comments to social workers.

Other misconduct involved passing a potentially self-harming client over to a duty worker without appropriate briefing, and failing to comply with policy regarding written assessments.

The New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal's decision was released yesterday after a hearing was held in November last year.

In June 2011, while Mr Drury was accompanied by an intern, a client about the age of 13 who had disclosed abuse and the client's mother, Mr Drury laughed in response to the mother's suggestion that the abuser may have been so drunk he wasn't aware of what he was doing.

He later told the mother "some insecure men are very attached to their penises", or words to that effect, as part of an explanation as to why some men commit abuse.

In a meeting with an 18-year-old client in November 2009, he quoted inappropriate dialogue from the movie Team America.

There were several instances in which Mr Drury had not followed correct health board documentation policy, and two instances in which he made inappropriate comments to social workers.

One of these was to the effect of: "CYFS social workers are child abusers or at least have the potential for child abuse in their work", the decision said.

When contacted yesterday Mr Drury said he could not comment freely because of legal issues.

"Basically, the story is a dispute had arisen between two psychologists at Hawke's Bay Hospital," he said.

"One had accumulated a number of allegations about me and these were filed as a complaint which was heard. In order to defend those it was going to cost an exorbitant amount of money so the lawyers agreed to basically agree to the charges rather than run the cost of an extended defence."

In hindsight he said there were always "things that could be done differently or better". When asked if he regretted the incidents outlined, he claimed there had been some "contextual features" not outlined in the written decision.

Asked if he felt hard done by, or unfairly treated, he replied: "I can't say that, but if you look at what happened you can form your own judgement. We were heading to a defended hearing."

Mr Drury resigned from his job with the board shortly before the hearing. He received a censure, must work under supervision for 18 months and pay costs of $10,000. In considering the penalty, the tribunal stopped short of a suspension and positive character references were taken into consideration.

A statement from chief operating officer Warrick Frater yesterday said the board did not condone unacceptable behaviour from any of its clinicians.

"These cases are always rigorously investigated with the help of the college or board to whom that clinician is affiliated," he said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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