GP accused of performing exorcism on patient struck off

A Christian GP who was accused of performing exorcism on a patient has been struck off the medical register.

The Cobridge Health Centre where Thomas O'Brien met the patient.

Dr Thomas O'Brien, 56, was found guilty of serious misconduct, and deemed "a risk to the public" for trying to influence a vulnerable woman's religious beliefs.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service said O'Brien had not shown any insight into his actions, the BBC reports.

The doctor has 28 days to lodge an appeal against the decision.

O'Brien first saw the patient, known as patient A, when he was a locum at Cobridge Health Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

He allegedly told the patient, who had had stomach surgery and was also mentally vulnerable, that the "devil was having a real go at her". He is said to have taken her to religious meetings, prayed with her at home and programmed her television to The Gospel Channel.

The patient also said he had given her a copy of a book he had written with his wife called The Occult Checklist. She said he had also told her to stop taking anti-depressants and blood pressure medication and was warned not to tell her psychiatrist.

The panel chairman Prof Tim Hendra, said O'Brien exhibited "harmful, deep-seated personality or attitudinal problems" and had "repeatedly breached professional boundaries".

Prof Hendra said: "Dr O'Brien shows no insight or empathy towards patient A but has rather adopted a combative approach which is entirely unjustified and unacceptable.

"The panel is in no doubt that conduct such as this is completely inappropriate and would be viewed as deplorable by the general public and the profession."

According to the Stoke Sentinel, the counsel for the General Medical Council Peter Atherton told the hearing that O'Brien had told the patient that "God was her surgeon".

"They also offered her an exorcism and performed it. She was made to feel as if all things going wrong were due to the devil," Atherton said.

O'Brien did not attend the hearing, but submitted a written statement, in which he said: "Maybe patient A has no mental problems or psychotic illness, but likes telling lies for effect, and enjoys inventing and twisting stories to harm others?"

He accepted that he had visited the patient's home, but denied that he had attempted to perform exorcism.

O'Brien's letter also said that he had resigned from practising medicine, continuing: "I know what went on and what my wife and I did or did not do. Even if they [GMC] did side with me, I know true justice will be done one day and no-one can escape from that.

"The allegations have been severe enough to break anyone down emotionally and I'm grateful for my faith which sustained me throughout the ordeal.

"I forgive the patient and her husband and also the psychiatrist for the horrendous allegations against my wife and me. We are enjoying living a quiet private life and we are able to help many more people than I would have done by staying in the NHS. God knows everything and will judge fairly."