TV psychiatrist who took Â£1.2 million inheritance from patient with whom he had "blurred and secretive" relationship
February 16, 2011
A Harley Street psychiatrist who accepted a £1.2million legacy from a former actress he treated was struck off for his 'appalling' behaviour' today.
Dr Peter Rowan, 62, who has appeared on reality TV show "Supersize vs Superskinny," prescribed former debutante Patricia May 'inappropriate' doses of sedatives in the weeks before her death.
He also accepted cheques for £150,000 while she was alive, the General Medical Council heard.
The eating disorder specialist had led a 'blurred and secretive' relationship with the wealthy woman, and allowed her cash gifts to 'cloud' his judgement.
He has been told that his willingness to accept gifts 'of extraordinary financial worth' had 'seriously compromised' his professional relationship with the patient.
Panel chairman Mary Clark-Glass said Rowan's actions had damaged the reputation of the profession, and erasure was 'the only sufficient and proportionate' sanction.
She told the doctor: 'This is a case where a firm declaration of professional standards is required in the public interest, in order to maintain public confidence in the profession generally.
'It is the panel's firm view that your misconduct amounts to behaviour which would appall other medical practitioners and would shake the confidence of the public in the profession.
'It would also bring the profession as a whole into disrepute unless this Panel made it clear that such behaviour is completely unacceptable.'
Miss May weighed just 38 kilos when she died in hospital after a fall in her Mayfair home on March 9, 2003.
She died in May, aged 66, and was cremated before a post-mortem could take place.
Miss May first started seeing Rowan at his Harley Street clinic in 1987 where he would try and convince her to attend the Priory Clinic in Roehampton.
She had been anorexic for more than 30 years and used to weigh food before she ate it, the hearing was told.
After she died a stash of more than 1,000 prescription pills including powerful tranquillisers, antidepressants and antipsychotics, were found in her home.
Police began to investigate Rowan's treatment of Miss May after discovering he also left her notes which ended 'Love, P'.
No charges were ever brought and in 2007 the former Priory Clinic psychiatrist pocketed his inheritance of £1.2million.
The GMC ruled that accepting the gifts from Miss May while remaining as her doctor was 'inappropriate, not in her best interests and fell below the standards to be expected of a consultant psychiatrist'.
The panel also found that Rowan prescribed 'inappropriate' doses of benzodiazepine sedatives to treat Miss May's anorexia and anxiety.
The psychiatrist's judgement in agreeing not to contact other clinicians was 'clouded' by £50,000 given to him in 1996 and a further £100,000 in 1997, the GMC found.
Miss May's NHS GP had no idea of Rowan's existence because Miss May asked the doctor not to contact other professionals.
As a result she received double the dose of anti-depressants, the hearing was told.
Rowan's prescription of the sedatives was found to be excessive and inappropriate but was not found to be hazardous.
The clinician was also found to have failed to accurately monitor the woman's medication and also failed to keep adequate records.
Despite seeing Miss May once or twice a month for 16 years, there would often only be a record of one appointment a year.
Mrs Clark-Glass previously told the doctor: 'You should not have even considered accepting such extraordinary large gifts from a vulnerable patient'.
The panel rejected Rowan's suggestion that Miss May's request that he did not communicate with other doctors was 'a reasonable embargo' which he had to accept under rules of patient confidentiality.
Mrs Clark-Class said: 'Your failings covered a number of core areas including dangerous prescribing, failings in the treatment of a vulnerable patient and serious breaches of the doctor patient relationship by your acceptance of extraordinarily large gifts.
'Further, you adhered to what you mistakenly called an embargo.
'These put the patient at risk and involved a fundamental breach of the trust that patients are entitled to place in doctors.'
She added: 'The panel does not have confidence that you would not cross doctor patient boundaries in the future.'
The panel also also concluded that a period of suspension would not be sufficient, as his misconduct was 'fundamentally incompatible with your being a registered medical practitioner'.
Mrs Glass-Clark told Rowan: 'The panel is satisfied that the only sufficient and proportionate way in which patients, the public interest and the reputation of the profession can be protected is by directing the registrar to erase your name from the medical register.
'The panel is satisfied that your misconduct will have damaged the reputation of the profession.
'Doctors, patients and the public at large need to be reassured that serious misconduct of this kind cannot be tolerated.
'The panel therefore directs the registrar to erase your name from the medical register.'
Rowan ran the eating disorder clinic at The Priory, Roehampton, between 1982 and 2006.
He later became the medical director of the Cygnet Hospital, Ealing.
He appeared as an eating disorder specialist on a recent episode of Supersize vs Superskinny on Channel 4.
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