An Ilford GP touched a woman’s breasts during an appointment about her ankle pain, a tribunal has found. 

Dr Varaha Vijaya Nageswara Konathala, who was employed at the Kenwood Medical Centre in Gants Hill, was the subject of a police investigation after these allegations were made in 2019. 

He denied the allegations when interviewed and the Metropolitan Police decided to take no further action due to evidential difficulties. 

But last Friday (February 9, 2024) a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing concluded that Dr Konathala had touched the patient’s breasts inappropriately and that his motives were sexual. 

He has now been suspended for one year. 

‘Really creepy and strange’ 

A report said that in 2019 the woman, referred to as Patient A, attended a consultation with Dr Konathala. 

She complained of an ankle pain and then later in the consultation she also requested contraception. 

Patient A said Dr Konathala explained that he would need to do a general health check and then started to lift her top, touched her back, chest and breasts. 

She stated that she found Dr Konathala’s actions to be “really creepy and strange” and that “the way he was touching me did not feel like a doctor checking me”. 

Describing the incident, she said: “I was numb because it was so uncomfortable what had happened and in my mind I was trying to make excuses that maybe this is the procedure, it’s nothing wrong. 

“It wasn’t until the very end when he came so close to me and it felt like he was going to, you know, do something, like kiss me, that’s when I left and I pulled my top down and then I went to sit down.” 

Patient A said she burst into tears as soon as she left the practice. 

Patient A said she went to the police because she wanted to make sure “other people don’t have to put up with this”.   

But after Dr Konathala’s denials, no further action was taken. 

The Met stated that the did not feel they had the evidence to secure a charge due to a lack of witnesses, CCTV and forensics. 

‘Sexually motivated'

Dr Konathala consistently denied Patient A’s allegations. 

He said: “I did not examine Patient A’s breasts, back or chest as alleged. I deny that I touched her top, back, hips and breasts.” 

But the tribunal said parts of his evidence were “implausible”. 

The report states: “The tribunal has found that Dr Konathala performed the examination, which consisted of the breasts, back and chest - and that his actions were not clinically indicated.” 

It continued: “The tribunal considered that lifting Patient A’s top, pushing Patient A’s breasts out of her bra, and squeezing her breasts, absent any clinical indication or innocent explanation, were actions which could only have been for Dr Konathala’s sexual gratification.” 

Ilford Recorder: Dr Konathala has been in practice for 42 yearsDr Konathala has been in practice for 42 years (Image: PA)

‘Previously unblemished career’ 

Dr Konathala had been in practice for 42 years prior to this incident and his career was described as “previously unblemished”. 

He had been working at the practice as a GP principal for 14 years, and said he enjoyed every day working as a doctor. 

Dr Konathala stated that he could reassure the tribunal that there would continue to be no repetition of what has been found to have occurred in this case. 

However, the tribunal said his “opportunistic” sexual behaviour was an abuse of his professional position and an abuse of trust. 

It was therefore decided that he should be suspended for one year. 

The tribunal decided that permanently banning Dr Konathala would be inappropriate and disproportionate at this point.

But he was warned that if he fails to demonstrate that he has developed full insight into his misconduct over the next year the option of a permanent ban would still be an option.