A CONSULTANT heart specialist at Arrowe Park Hospital has been struck-off the medical register after his "disgraceful" sexual harrassment of five junior female doctors.

Dr Palaniappan Saravanan had been sacked by the hospital trust in November of last year for gross misconduct.

Now a professional adjudication hearing has decided it is "necessary to erase" the doctor’s name from the register.

READ>Consultant sacked for sexual misconduct

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service also imposed an immediate order of suspension to cover the 28-day period in which Saravanan would be entitled to appeal.

The hearing, chaired by Dr Martin Jackson, concluded the disgraced medic's repeated and deliberate sexually motivated touching of five junior female doctors - on the ward in front of patients and other nursing staff - fell far below the standards expected of doctors.

It also said his actions involved an element of grooming.

And he repeated his inappropriate behaviour while responsible for teaching the juniors.

He touched each of them repeatedly.

He behaved in this way towards the five between November, 2014, and February, 2017, when a complaint was finally made.

A 60-page report says that on all possible occasions he specifically chose young female doctors to accompany him on ward rounds.

It says: This selectivity suggested an element of deliberate planning on Dr Saravanan’s part in order to facilitate opportunities to make physical contact with the doctors.

His inappropriate behaviour started with what might simply have been perceived as over-friendly touching of the back or shoulders but this was escalated to touching the doctors on other parts of their bodies including an intimate area, notably the bottom, and on two occasions he touched bare skin.

This occurred in a professional setting - in the presence of patients and other colleagues and nursing staff.

His actions had a distressing impact on each of the doctors.

They tried to avoid his attentions in a variety of ways, and felt they could not complain for fear of jeopardising their careers.

Tribunal chairman Dr Jackson said: "Dr Saravanan’s conduct was serious and disgraceful and would be regarded as deplorable by members of the medical profession.

"Dr Saravanan’s actions fell far short of the standards of conduct reasonably to be expected of a doctor.

"The tribunal concluded that his actions amounted to serious professional misconduct.

"Dr Saravanan failed to uphold the proper standards of behaviour expected of doctors by the public, and his conduct breached a fundamental tenet of the profession.

"His failure to comply with the relevant professional standards was serious and his conduct brought the profession into disrepute."


The report goes on to say the tribunal considered Saravanan had failed to understand the imbalance of power between himself and the junior female doctors.

He was in a position of trust and the doctors were entitled to place their trust in him.

Touching them in a sexually motivated way was a serious breach of that trust.

One junior known in the report as "Dr E" gave a very graphic description of events and used such terms as "sick, terrified and trapped" to describe how the ordeal had made her feel.

Part of Dr E's statement said: "He was standing so close that the front of his body was touching my back and I felt trapped.

"I let go and tried to move away but he initially didn't move. He then let me get out of his grasp.

"Dr Saravanan didn't say anything as he was touching me; he was just talking to me about the scan."

Another junior known as "Dr A" carried out a scan on a patient under supervision of Saravanan: "For the duration of the scan Dr Saravanan kept his hand on my bottom.

"He held the centre of my left buttock cheek with a firm grip, every now and then stroking with his index finger.

"This lasted for roughly five minutes for the duration of the scan.

"I had the probe in my right hand and reached around to the left side of the patient to scan their chest.

"Dr Saravanan held the computer monitor in his right hand and put his left hand on my bottom and began stroking it with his fingers. I think it would have been his index and middle finger that he used."

On another occasion Dr A was told by Saravanan to kneel on a bed in order to get a better angle for a scan: "He said I should kneel on the patient’s bed and reach over.

"As soon as I knelt on the bed and reached over the patient, Dr Saravanan put his hand on my bottom and kept it there the whole time I was performing the scan.

"I was mortified."

Saravanan provided his own witness statement and also gave spoken evidence via video-link.

His account was consistent in denying any intentional sexually motivated touching.

The tribunal took into account his recollection of events may have been uncertain due to the passage of time and also due to the number of junior doctors he would have had dealings with and taught during his time at the hospital.

Saravanan described his background and the circumstances of his upbringing.

He said he had always been "a tactile person."

But the tribunal did not accept Saravanan’s assertion that he was generally tactile and that was the reason why he would touch his colleagues.

Witnesses only noticed him touching junior female doctors and not male or more senior female colleagues or nurses or ward clerks.

On behalf of Saravanan, Ms Sarah Przyblyska said a sanction of suspension would be more appropriate than striking him off "to maintain public confidence in the profession." 

She submitted Saravanan’s misconduct "fell short of the required level for erasure." 

She said the tribunal "could be satisfied from the gravity of the matters found proved in this case, when compared to other cases involving sexual misconduct, that suspension was appropriate and proportionate."


Dr A: In essence, I was trying to quickly conduct the scan while being assaulted.

The second time he placed his hand on my bottom I could not be more certain, I felt violated and sick.

Dr B: When he was knelt down, he put his hand on my knee. He didn't advance it, but he held it there for too long and it didn't feel very nice.

It felt like Dr Saravanan was taking advantage of the fact that I was a junior, as I was an FY1 at the time. It made me want to get the ward round over and done with so that I could leave.

Dr C: He gradually moved  round to touch my right thigh over my clothing. When I realised that, I immediately stood up and moved away.

Dr D: Yes, during ward rounds he would touch me on the bottom, using the back of his hand. Later on during the placement he would turn his hand so the flat of his hand would be touching me.

Dr Saravanan would come up by my side and touch my bottom with the back of his hand. He kept it flat the whole time and deadly still on the centre of my bottom. This occurred on every ward round.

Dr E: Whenever we were with patients or if I was writing up patient notes, Dr Saravanan would stand very close to me and put his hand on the side of my bum or on my bum and move it back and forth which made me feel very uncomfortable.

I was by the computer reviewing notes before seeing a patient and he would put his hand on my bum or my leg.


A Wirral University Teaching Hospital spokesman said:“When we became aware of this allegation, Dr Saravanan was immediately excluded from our premises.

“As is recommended practice, a full internal investigation was undertaken and details were passed to the General Medical Council and our safeguarding lead was in contact with a police liaison officer about this matter.”