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Charge Characteristics

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  Decision No: 00/61C
Practitioner: Dr Beris Ford
Charge Characteristics: Inappropriate examination
Inappropriate touching
Inappropriate communication
Additional Orders:

Conditions imposed on doctor's practice:  0061cfindingscondlaw
Doctor granted  interim name suppression:  0061chearprimin
Complainant granted permanent name suppression:  0061chearprimin
Doctor's interim name suppression denied:  0061chearprimin2  - appealed to District Court.  Court upheld the Tribunal Decision Ford v CAC et al (District Court, Wellington, NP 95/00, 8 September 2000)
Denied application to permanently stay charge: 

Decision: 00610184cfindings
Appeal: CAC appealed Decision:  Appeal dismissed (CAC v Dr Ford (District Court, Wellington, MA 103/2, 1 May 2003, Thompson DCJ))

Please also see 01/84C (four more charges against Dr Ford which were heard at the same time as charge below)



A Complaints Assessment Committee charged Dr Beris Ford with disgraceful conduct in a professional respect. The particulars of the charge were as follows:


  1. That between the 10th October 1989 and 20 May 1992 during the course of one or more consultations at his surgery he seated himself so that his knee was interposed between the patient's legs. Her personal boundaries were thus invaded. The placement of the seats in the room meant that she could not sit elsewhere and felt trapped.
  2. That between the 10th October 1989 and 20 May 1992 during the course of consultations at his surgery he inappropriately and without clinical justification stroked the patient on her knee and lower thigh when both were seated as above.
  1. That on or about the 8th January 1990 in the course of a consultation he made inappropriate comments to the patient concerning her body particularly her breasts, legs and skin.

  2. That between 10th October 1989 and 20 May 1992 on one or more occasions during the course of a consultation at his surgery he took the patient's temperature in the axilla in such a manner that his hand inappropriately touched her breast.



Dr Ford was the patient's general practitioner from approximately January 1989 to September 1992. The allegations which gave rise to the charge against Dr Ford arose in the context of several of the consultations which occurred during that period.

Dr Ford's evidence was that his memory of the patient was very scant. His evidence was mostly based on his notes and her records.



The Tribunal found Dr Ford not guilty. It was not satisfied that any of the particulars of the charge were established.

The Tribunal took into account that notwithstanding that the patient was a patient of Dr Ford for a relatively lengthy period of time, she did not express any of her concerns or feelings to Dr Ford about the way in which he conducted himself towards her during the consultations prior to the complaint being made to the Medical Council in 1999.

The Tribunal was satisfied that Dr Ford did conduct himself as alleged in Particular 1 (a), 1 (b) and 2, but it was not satisfied that it was proven that Dr Ford's intent was prurient or improper or otherwise warranted the sanction of an adverse finding.

The Tribunal considered that there was sufficient evidence given at the hearing regarding Dr Ford's habit of pushing himself about the surgery on his wheeled chair that the "core facts' of Particulars 1 (a) and (b) were established, but not that his conduct was "inappropriate" in the circumstances.

The Tribunal considered it was more likely than not that Dr Ford did make comments as alleged in Particular 2 of the charge but it was not satisfied that the comments were "inappropriate". Dr Ford gave evidence that as the patient was a vulnerable person he may have made comments to make the patient feel better about herself. The Tribunal determined it would be unfair to consider Dr Ford's conduct and comments out of context and/or removed from the clinical setting and relationship in which they were alleged to have occurred.

The Tribunal was not satisfied on the basis of the evidence before it that Particular 3 was established.



The Complaints Assessment Committee appealed the Decision of the Tribunal to the District Court.  The appeal was dismissed.  (CAC v Dr Ford (District Court, Wellington, MA 103/02, 1 May 2003, Thompson DCJ)).