A PSYCHIATRIST who practised at a Huddersfield hospital has gone before the General Medical Council accused of serious professional misconduct.
Nicholas Cooling - who was a consultant psychiatrist at the Nuffield Hospital in Birkby - faced the Fitness To Practice Panel at the GMC offices in Manchester yesterday.
Dr Cooling, who has now moved to Battersea in London, is facing the panel following a complaint from Huddersfield GP Dr Dev Dutt.
Dr Dutt himself has been banned by the GMC from practising as a GP for 18 months.
The ban came from the GMC's Interim Orders Panel, following a suspension by Huddersfield Central Primary Care Trust in February.
Both suspensions came after concerns about Dr Dutt's conduct in pursuing a serious of county court cases against his ex-wife Catherine and her friends.
His complaint against Dr Cooling relates to two letters written by the psychiatrist while he was treating Mrs Dutt during their acrimonious divorce, which began in 2002 and is now complete.
The letters expressed concerns about Dr Dutt's conduct and mental state.
One was sent to Mrs Dutt's GP on January 7, 2003, and the second was sent to a judge at Halifax County Court on March 13, 2003.
Dr Dutt claims that Dr Cooling has committed serious professional misconduct by sending the letters, because he made his evaluation without consulting or examining him.
Peter Main, counsel for the GMC, said: "Dr Cooling manifestly failed in his duties that he owed as a general medical practitioner."
Dr Cooling accepted that he had treated Mrs Dutt occasionally for depression and anxiety since 1994 and consulted with her on January 6, 2003, at the Nuffield Hospital, writing the letter to her GP the next day.
He admitted that the letter expressed concerns about Dr Dutt's conduct and his mental state and that he would benefit from a psychiatric evaluation.
He also admitted that after reading information about decisions made by a judge during the Dutts' divorce proceedings, he wrote the second letter.
He admitted it said he felt Dr Dutt's mental state was "clearly not normal" and that he thought he should be under the care of a psychiatrist.
He admitted that he had never examined Dr Dutt.
He disputes the claim that his actions were inappropriate, misleading and a breach of good medical practice.
Dr Dutt gave evidence to the panel yesterday. He said up until October, 2002, he had lived at the marital home on Dorchester Road in Fixby, where he had also operated his single-handed GP practice of around 2,000 patients.
He said he left on that date in accordance with an order made at a divorce hearing. He was only allowed at the house on Saturdays so that he could access information from his office.
He said towards the end of his marriage he had spent most of his time at the Holiday Inn at Clifton, near Brighouse, but now he has no fixed abode.
He then broke down in tears and had to be given a break to recover.
Dr Dutt detailed his career, saying he had been a GP in Huddersfield for many years in Fartown and Fixby.
At various times he also acted as a part-time consultant in occupational health and opthamology at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.
He said he still does part-time medical work on a voluntary basis for friends and sporting organisations.
He said during his career he had never met Dr Cooling and only heard of him when Mrs Dutt was admitted to his care at the Nuffield Hospital.
He said the allegations made by Dr Cooling in his two letters were the "most imaginative and fabricated lies that I have ever heard in the entire history of the world".
The GMC panel then excluded the public so that details about Dr Dutt's mental health could be discussed.
The hearing continues.