A GP has been reprimanded after he grabbed and kissed a pharmacy worker against her will
The Medical Board of Australia has issued a statement about Dr Nigel Farrier, who has been reprimanded and had his registration suspended for six months for professional misconduct, after he acted inappropriately towards a pharmacy worker.
The Board received a notification about Dr Farrier’s conduct in May 2019. It was alleged he made inappropriate and unwarranted sexual gestures and actions towards a woman who worked at a pharmacy next door to the medical practice where he was employed.
According to State Administrative Tribunal documents, the doctor was employed as the GP in a small town in Western Australia, by a pharmacist who owned the practice as well as the adjoining pharmacy.
The pharmacist employed a woman identified as “Ms B” as the pharmacy’s front of store manager.
The complaint alleged that on the morning of 16 April 2019, Dr Farrier made “inappropriate and unwanted gestures” towards Ms B while she was at work.
Ms B was talking to the pharmacist in the store, when the doctor stood in the doorway and “pursed his lips and blew kisses towards them”. The doctor then spoke briefly to the pharmacist and left the shop.
About 15 minutes later, the doctor walked into an office at the back of the centre, and began talking with another staff member.
Ms B then walked into the nearby kitchen to place some excess vaccines in a fridge.
At that point, the doctor stood at the door of the kitchen, and Ms B stepped into the doorway to go back into the hall.
The doctor then, “reached out his arms, placed both hands on the back of Ms B’s head, leaned in towards her, kissed her on the lips and made a ‘Mwah’ sound as he did so,” the transcript notes.
The front-of-shop manager lifted her arm to push the doctor’s hand away from her head, went back to the pharmacy and told the pharmacist about the incident.
On 3 June 2019, Dr Farrier was charged with unlawful indecent assault under the WA Criminal code.
The Tribunal noted that the penalty for a conviction of this offense is up to five years’ imprisonment. Registered health practitioners are required to give the Board written notice if they are charged with an offence punishable by 12 months’ imprisonment or more.
While Dr Farrier was not ultimately convicted of that offense, he failed to provide Ahpra with written (or any) notice of the charge.
The Board took immediate action to suspend Dr Farrier’s registration in January 2020 and the allegations were referred to the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia.
The matter was settled at mediation in late 2020. In addition to the six-month suspension of his registration, the Tribunal imposed a condition on Dr Farrier’s registration requiring him to complete six hours of education.
This included the completion of a reflective practice report in relation to professional ethics, professional relationships, sexual harassment and the effect of an unsafe work environment on patient safety.
By way of mitigation, the parties noted that Dr Farrier had cooperated with the Board early in the proceedings, which avoided the need for a hearing.
Dr Farrier was ordered to pay $5,000 towards the Board’s costs of the proceedings.