Wansbeck Hospital doctor surfed porn sites in his surgery

A DOCTOR surfed the web to access graphic images of pornography, mutilation and beheadings between treating patients, a panel has found.

Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, Northumberland

A DOCTOR surfed the web to access graphic images of pornography, mutilation and beheadings between treating patients, a panel has found.

Dr Michael Reynolds Foden, a practitioner in respiratory medicine at Wansbeck General Hospital in Ashington, Northumberland, had worked with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust since December 1999.

But his decade-long career collapsed when IT technicians discovered his computer had been used to access inappropriate images of “young” women.

When an investigation was launched he denied he had accessed the websites, instead claiming he had given his log-in details to a lodger at his home.

He said he gave his unnamed housemate permission to access Facebook, eBay and his email accounts because Dr Foden did not have internet at his home.

But he eventually came clean and admitted he had used his work computer to cruise online pornography sites.

In a written determination of facts, the General Medical Council said: “The panel noted the evidence of Dr [Dave] Evans, the medical director of the trust.

“He stated that the trust had concerns about the young appearance of some of the females depicted in the pornographic images viewed by Dr Foden.

“It was also concerned that the content of some of the websites viewed by Dr Foden included mutilation, including images of beheading.”

An investigation was launched after IT technicians scoured the doctor’s internet history. Kevin Craddock, the trust’s information governance manager, first discovered that the doctor had been using his work computer to watch pornography after returning from Christmas holidays in 2009.

The investigation found that in November and December 2009 he had combed the internet for inappropriate sites just moments before using the system to log into patient records.

The panel said: “On November 16, 2009, at 2.46pm, Dr Foden’s ‘log in’ was used to access a pornographic site using the computer terminal at the Wansbeck outpatient clinic.

“At 3.04pm access to that pornographic site stopped. At 3.04pm to 3.06pm, Dr Foden’s ‘log in’ was used to access the PACS system (which enabled a patient’s X-rays to be seen).”

It emerged that the experienced practitioner had logged on to those websites for “significant periods of time” but when he was confronted with the evidence, Dr Foden sent a string of emails in which he denied accessing the website.

In correspondence written on January 8, 2010, he wrote: “[A third party] has been staying with me for several months and had asked if he could use the computer in my office as I have no internet access at home. I give my solemn undertaking that it will never happen again.”

Three days later he wrote: “[The third party] said he wanted to send some last emails. I logged him on and then went to get on with the day’s work. Obviously I was completely wrong to give him my username and password in contravention of the policy, but I trusted him completely, and gave him the same talk that I received about accessing dubious material. I am totally devastated, not only at my stupidity, but also the betrayal of my trust.”

In September 2010 Dr Foden was invited to undergo a fitness to practise assessment but left the country and has never undergone the meeting.

In an email sent on June 1, 2010, he eventually admitted it was him who used the internet.

He wrote: “On the occasions laid out in the logs it was I who accessed the inappropriate material, and it happened on other occasions as well, although what I said about [third party] still largely holds.

“I am deeply sorry for lying to you about this. I take full responsibility for this unacceptable conduct.”

Dr Foden was dismissed on August 26, 2010. A GMC panel has determined that Dr Foden’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct. A sanction will be imposed later this week.

 
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