A 46-year-old consultant, who worked as a registrar at Guys and St Thomas’ and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals in London was accused of sexually harassing junior female doctors by sending them suggestive WhatsApp messages, also behaving inappropriately while they were working together.

Dr Ganesh Arunachalam, from Camden, North London, was also faulted for taking advantage of his seniority over the junior trainees in the scheme of things where there was an imbalance of power. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service was told the incidents had occurred between May 2014 and November 2014.

Dr Ganesh Arunachalam has been deemed unfit and no longer able to work in the UK due to his inappropriate behaviour. Photo credit: Cavendish Press/Daily Mail
Dr Ganesh Arunachalam has been deemed unfit and no longer able to work in the UK due to his inappropriate behaviour. Photo credit: Cavendish Press/Daily Mail

Apple emoji for the “sweetest apple”

Complaints lodged by two victims revealed that Arunachalam had sent a slew of more than 60 suggestive text and WhatsApp messages to one and hugged and tickled the other unwarrantingly.

Dr A, who worked with Arunachalam from February 2014 – after being positioned at Guys and St Thomas Hospital for a six-months stint – told the medical panel that he had refused to stop sending her text and WhatsApp messages on her personal phone despite her pleas to do so. Dr A had exchanged phone numbers with Arunachalam and the rest of the team because it was more convenient than relying on the hospital bleeper system.

Despite the warning, Arunachalam had not kept it work-related and on one particular occasion, had sent Dr A a message using the apple emoji as a code for her about how much he was missing her and wanting the “sweetest apple”. Dr A also confessed that his overly friendly behaviour made her concern for her personal safety.

Dr B, a trainee at the acute unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital worked with Arunachalam beginning November 2014. During one shift, he was allegedly believed to have crept up behind Dr B while she was making medical notes and had touched and tickled her. In a separate occasion, she claimed that they were walking down a corridor to treat a patient when Arunachalam suddenly grabbed hold of her hand and said, “I love working with you” and kissed the top of her head.

Dr B eventually reported Arunachalam when he had blocked her path and hugged her during a night shift when it was quieter than usual. His actions had “made her skin crawl”.

Impaired by sexually motivated behaviour

Arunachalam had denied all accusations of wrongdoing saying that in the case of Dr A, he was trying to build her confidence. He also claimed that Dr A was in fact, infatuated with him. In addition, Arunachalam also accused Dr B for being an awful doctor and behaved inappropriately towards patients.

Sharon Beattie from the General Medical Council said, “this was inappropriate behaviour towards two female colleagues which involved sexual harassment and which was sexually motivated.”

“The incidents left both victims going to work in what they must have felt as a hostile environment, which is damaging to patient care.”

It was concluded that Arunachalam would no longer be fit to practice in the UK following his sexually motivated behaviour. MIMS

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