A Northland doctor attracted to a young female patient with mental health issues showered her with gifts and even offered to take her to Hawaii for a holiday.
Whangarei GP Dr Vijay Harypursat appeared before a Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal hearing yesterday on a charge of professional misconduct laid by the Health and Disability Commission.
He admitted his wrongdoing.
The tribunal has reserved its decision.
The charge relates to Dr Harypursat sending what was described by the commission as a "flurry of text messages" of a personal, intimate or romantic nature to a 22-year-old patient over a six-week period in April and May, 2013.
The commission heard that the woman felt uncomfortable about the doctor's attention. It was also revealed during yesterday's hearing Dr Harypursat had sent similar text messages to a 14-year-old girl after seeing her in January 2012, and she lodged a complaint with the PHO.
He was then placed under formal clinical supervision and ordered to undergo counselling.
In February 2012, the clinic where he was working adopted a policy in respect of its staff sending texts to patients after the teenager's complaint.
Dr Harypursat resigned from the clinic in May this year.
The tribunal has suppressed the clinic's name as well as the 22-year-old complainant's identity.
Commission lawyer Nicola Wills said Dr Harypursat accessed the clinical record of his young patient to get her cellphone number before sending her unwanted and unwelcome text messages in order to pursue a romantic relationship with her.
It was not a one-off lapse of judgment but his behaviour was highly manipulative and predatory, she said.
Ms Wills said Dr Harypursat, 48, told his patient he was off to Hawaii and asked whether she wanted to come with him.
On one occasion, she declined his invitation to accompany him to Auckland. At another time he texted and met her in town and gave her earrings as a gift.
Dr Harypursat also offered her hand cream and sweets on other occasions.
His lawyer, Harry Waalkens, QC, said Dr Harypursat accepted the charge laid against him and acknowledged he put his patient through stress, for which he apologised.
He said the doctor had clearly let himself, his family and his profession down.
Mr Waalkens submitted that cancellation of Dr Harypursat's practising certificate would be out of kilter with other decisions that involved professional misconduct by medical practitioners.
A fine, with conditions, censure and costs would be an appropriate penalty, he said.
Mr Waalkens submitted references from people who knew Dr Harypursat, as well as highlighted more serious cases of professional misconduct where the practising certificates of medical practitioners involved were not cancelled or suspended.