Sunderland GP struck off for trying to start affair with patient’s wife

Roker Family Practice in Roker Avenue, Sunderland.
Roker Family Practice in Roker Avenue, Sunderland.

A Sunderland family doctor who tried to start an affair with a patient’s wife after learning their marriage was in trouble has been struck off in disgrace.

GP William Arnett, 41, swapped flirty texts with the mother of one and met her in a pub after her husband broke down during a medical consultation with him, and said his job working away from home was having a severe impact on his family life.

The housewife, in her 40s, deleted the messages for fear her husband would find them, but when she herself went to see Arnett for a breast examination at his surgery, the doctor kissed her and later texted, saying: “I like your breasts just the way they are.”

He then asked to meet up saying: “I’ll let you decide where you want to meet then. I’m sure you look simply gorgeous!’’ and the pair subsequently went on a date at a pub, where Arnett again kissed the woman – known as Patient A – after leaning into her car.

The husband found out about the trysts when he used an iPhone location system to confirm her whereabouts and interrogated his wife when she returned home and she confessed she had been with the GP.

He used computer software to retrieve the texts and angrily confronted the doctor on his own doorstep.

The man – also in his 40s, known as Patient B – reported him to the General Medical Council, saying: “My marriage was not in a great place before this, but the guy I turned to for help screwed me over.”

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, a disciplinary panel found a series of misconduct charges proved against Arnett, who was not at the hearing.

Panel chairman Dr Helen McCormack said: “Dr Arnett exploited Patient A’s vulnerability in order to pursue a sexual and emotional relationship with her and there remains a risk of repetition and a risk of harm to patients.”

Both the woman and her husband had both been patients at Arnett’s Roker Family Practice in Sunderland.

But trouble began in October 2014 when the husband went to the GP for treatment for an undisclosed illness and when asked about his home life, he broke down.

Dr McCormack added: “The tribunal concluded, on balance, that Dr Arnett was using his professional opinion to pursue an emotional relationship with Patient A and that this was improper as doctors are expected to maintain professional boundaries with their patients.”