A DOCTOR accused of attacks on staff at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is fighting to clear his name.
Dr Safa Kaftan was suspended after being accused of subjecting two colleagues to “unprovoked violence” in the hospital’s accident and emergency department.
Now he is asking a High Court judge to put his career back on track.
Dr Kaftan was suspended for six months by the General Medical Council in January last year, but claims many of the findings made against him were wrong and that the punishment and blight on his otherwise unblemished career was too harsh.
The staff grade doctor was accused of losing his temper with staff nurse, Jean Prior, in the A & E department on December 1 2005, London's High Court heard.
He was said to have “forcefully” pulled her into an office by the wrist before shouting at her. Nurse Prior suffered a large bruise to her thigh when she ran into a door handle.
And, when she complained to him two days later, Dr Kaftan was accused of “flippantly” responding: “Sue me, the insurance will pay”, or words to that effect.
Less than a week later, on December 7 Dr Kaftan was again accused of losing his temper and rowing with colleague, Dr Thomas Matthew, over the Christmas work rota.
Dr Kaftan, of Clay Butts, Birkby, was said to have used foul and abusive language against Dr Matthew before grabbing him by the neck and pushing him against a wall.
However, Dr Kaftan disputed Dr Matthew’s account of what happened and, effectively claiming that he was the victim, contacted the police the following day. As a result, Dr Matthew was formally interviewed at Huddersfield Police Station but no charges were brought.
In its decision last year, the GMC's Fitness to Practice Panel described Dr Matthew as a “reliable and credible witness” and found that Dr Kaftan had been guilty of two instances of misconduct, involving the use of gratuitous violence against colleagues.
The panel also said that Dr Kaftan’s complaint to the police after the incident involving Dr Matthew was “evidence of cynical manipulation by you of the truth”.
Challenging the panel’s findings in relation to the Dr Matthew incident as a “gross distortion of the evidence”, Dr Kaftan’s barrister, Mr Alan Jenkins, pointed to alleged inconsistencies in Dr Matthew’s account of what happened.
He also denied there had been anything wrong or manipulative about Dr Kaftan’s complaint to the police.
And, in relation to the incident involving nurse Prior, Mr Jenkins said the accident and emergency department was notoriously a stressful place to work and occasional disagreements between colleagues were inevitable.
Nurse Prior, he added, generally got on well with Dr Kaftan, was “able too look after herself” and had “not been intimidated by him in the least”. The bruising she suffered, said Mr Jenkins, had been “completely accidental”.
Attacking the six-month suspension as excessive, the barrister said there had never been criticism of Dr Kaftan's clinical practise and there had been no other incidents.
Dr Kaftan had also told the panel that he was committed to continue with communication skills courses and his membership of the British Association of Anger Management.
After legal argument, Mr Justice Plender had to adjourn the case for lack of court time. The hearing is expected to continue in weeks.