Return to Home Page



Charge Characteristics

Additional Orders

Cited Cases


Decision No: 97/17D
Practitioner: Dr Richard Johnathan Charles Walkey
Charge Characteristics: Inadequate care
Informed consent
Breach of Code
Failure to provide a chaperone
Sexual Misconduct
Additional Orders: Granted application for private hearing (majority decision): 9717dhearpriminlaw
Doctor granted interim name suppression: 9717dhearpriminlaw
Doctor's interim name suppression discontinued:  9717dfindingslaw
Complainant granted permanent name suppression: 9717dfindingslaw
Full Decision: 9717dfindingslaw



The Director of Proceedings charged that Dr Walkey was guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect in that his management and treatment of a female patient was inappropriate. After the Tribunal made some amendments to the charge at the beginning of the hearing the particulars were as follows:

  1. That he was in breach of Rights 1, 4(2), 4(3), 6(1)(a), and 7(1) of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.
  2. He failed to provide a chaperone during his internal/intimate examination of the patient.
  3. He failed to obtain the patient's consent to the application of a cream to her vulval area.
  4. He failed to inform the patient of the nature of her condition and the purpose of the proposed treatment and the fact he intended to apply the ointment himself.
  5. That the application of the ointment to the patients vulval area amounts to sexual impropriety as that term is defined in the NZ Medical Council's Statement for the Profession on Sexual Abuse dated June 1994.
  6. He failed to take into account in his overall management of the patient's recurrent pruritis vulvae the fact that she had been sexually abused and was in need of particularly sensitive treatment when he knew or ought to have known she had been abused.
  7. He failed to treat her with correct dignity and respect as set out in Right 1 of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.

The basis of the charge was that the actions of Dr Walkey were in clear breach of the Medical Council's Chaperone Statement and its Statement on Sexual Abuse in the Doctor/Patient Relationship.



A majority of the Tribunal found that Dr Walkey was guilty of professional misconduct. The majority (Dr Reid dissenting) considered that the conduct fell short of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect. It did not consider that Dr Walkey's misconduct was in any sense either wilful, deliberate, intended or premeditated or that it occurred with sexual intent or for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Dr Walkey acknowledged that his management of the patient could be termed paternalistic and that he did not give the patient the option of applying the ointment herself or arrange a chaperone or give cognisance to her serious history of sexual abuse. In view of this acknowledgement the Tribunal found particulars 2, 3 5 and 6 of the charge were proven. It regarded the failure to provide a chaperone as a serious omission, particularly given the patients past history of sexual abuse and the clear Medical Council requirement that a chaperone be present during internal/intimate examinations. The Tribunal found that Dr Walkey's application of ointment to the patient's vulval area amounted to sexual impropriety.

The Tribunal found particular 4 was not proven to the required standard, and it did not need to consider particular 7.



Dr Walkey was censured, fined $2000 (after taking into account submission by counsel for Dr Walkey), and ordered to pay 40% of the costs of the inquiry and the hearing. The Tribunal further ordered publication of the hearing in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

On the basis of an undertaking by Dr Walkely not to practice medicine beyond 31 March 1998, not to renew his practising certificate and not to conduct intimate examinations of female patients other than in the presence of a chaperone, the Tribunal did not impose a period of suspension. Dr Walkey has since retired.