Blackburn physio struck off for 'sexually touching' woman

Blackburn Citizen: Matthew Counsell Matthew Counsell

A BLACKBURN physiotherapist has been struck off the medical register after inappropriately touching a woman while he was at work.

A panel for the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC) heard Matthew Counsell, sexually harassed the 22-year-old in a cubicle with the curtain closed.

Counsell, who failed to represent himself or attend the 90 minute fitness to practise hearing, was alleged to have inappropriately rubbed up against the woman, brushed her hair away from her face and put his hands on her back and bra strap.

The 32-year-old physiotherapist, of Blackamoor Road, Guide, was reported after a female colleague saw him twice touching the woman, the hearing was told.

The Clinical Educator was then suspended from his role at Longridge Community Hospital and reported to police.

He was later cleared of sexual assault at a trial at Preston Crown Court.

But a panel of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee found that Counsell’s actions constituted inappropriate behaviour towards the woman and that his behaviour was sexually motivated.

The same panel also ruled his actions constituted misconduct and that his fitness to practise was impaired.

He had denied all the charges, except for an occasion in which he placed his arm around the woman while carrying out a demonstration.

Chairman of the HCPC panel, Clare Brenda Reggiori, said: “Sexually motivated behaviour of the sort indulged in by Mr Counsell is extremely serious misconduct.

“It not only has significant consequences for the victim of the behaviour but it also undermines confidence in the professional reputation of the perpetrator.

“Whilst the present panel agrees with the earlier panel that a suspension order might be appropriate in circumstances where there is a prospect that someone who has behaved in that way might mend their ways, unless and until there can be a reasonable degree of confidence that the behaviour will not be repeated, the practitioner cannot be permitted to return to practise.

“Mr Counsell cannot be permitted to return to practise while there is the risk of repetition and his attitude towards his behaviour and this regulatory process is such that there is every reason to think that the position would be exactly as it is now at the expiry of a further period of suspension.”

The Panel decided Counsell would be struck from the Register with effect from the expiry of the current period of suspension September 6.

A spokesman from Counsell’s then employer Central Lancashire NHS Trust refused to comment on the panel’s decision.

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