Watchdog clears Brighton psychologist of paying patient for sex

Posted On 19 Sep 2011 at 1:43 am

An independent watchdog has ended the long-running suspension of a psychologist from Brighton who was accused of paying a prison inmate for sexual favours.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) has cleared Philip Dodgson, 66, who was about to retire from the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Dodgson, who now has cancer, was the trust’s associate director of psychology and psychological therapies, working at Hove Polyclinic off Nevill Avenue, Hangleton, among other places.

He resigned shortly after the trust suspended him.

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He also ran Psychology Associates in The Drive, Hove, which closed. The practice has been replaced in the same premises by Psychology Sussex.

And he worked as a clinical psychologist for Sussex Police.

Dr Dodgson was suspended nearly two years ago after the unsubstantiated allegations were made against him.

Brown envelope

They arose from notes of a disciplinary hearing held by South Downs NHS Trust, one of the organisations that merged to create the Sussex Partnership Trust.

Sussex Partnership suspended Dr Dodgson when a staff member found the notes.

They were in a brown envelope in Dr Dodgson’s personnel file and dated from 2005.

They alleged that he was guilty of making inappropriate sexual comments to a convicted prisoner who he had been asked to assess for a court case in June 2004.

They also alleged that he asked the prisoner to contact him on his release and had stayed in touch with him through phone calls and text messages.

And that he had paid the prisoner for sexual favours during a woodland walk.

Paul Spencer, representing Dr Dodgson, said that he had met the prisoner and had sex with him.

No evidence

But he said that there was no evidence that Dr Dodgson had paid the prisoner and no evidence that he had instigated the meetings.

Mr Spencer said that the prison inmate had made no complaint against Dr Dodgson and would not be giving evidence against him.

Dr Dodgson was excused from attending the HPC Conduct and Competence Committee hearing because he was undergoing radiotherapy for his cancer.

The committee said that the facts of the matter were not well founded and that Dr Dodgson could continue to practise.

The old notes said that South Downs had decided to take no further action against Dr Dodgson.

The HPC committee said that it was improbable that the trust’s chief executive would have allowed Dr Dodgson to stay working in a senior position and be promoted if the claims had been true.

Before his suspension Dr Dodgson had been president of a professional association known as the EMDR Association UK. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing and is used to treat people who have suffered extreme stress, such as combat stress or rape.

Dr Dodgson had presented several papers about EMDR therapy and research and had trained other psychologists.

Investigation

Sussex Partnership said: “Our responsibilities upon discovering details of these allegations in 2009 were clear.

“The health professional was immediately suspended and we reported this person to the Health Professions Council.

“We also reported this person to the Brighton and Hove Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board which includes the police, council and other health providers.

“We worked closely with Sussex Police who carried out a full investigation to find out if any criminal acts had occurred.

“No evidence to date has been found of criminality.

“There were no disciplinary proceedings, as the health professional resigned shortly after being suspended.”

The trust added: “There are longstanding clear rules about patient-therapist relationships.

“Ethics codes for all mental health professionals prohibit any kind of sexual relationship between the two.”

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