UHG junior doctor sent inappropriate texts and emails to female colleagues, hearing is told

A junior doctor sent inappropriate text messages and emails to female colleagues within a fortnight of starting work at University Hospital, Galway, a Medical Council Fitness to PractiSe hearing was told this week.

The hearing which has been adjourned until tomorrow (Friday ) heard that Dr Onada Olajide Onada is also facing a number of charges relating to harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

"It was causing a lot of distress. I saw one or two of the texts but I didn't see the emails -- but I knew the contents of them," said Dr Matthew Goodyear, Haematology Specialist Registrar at the Mater Hospital.

At the time Dr Goodyear was attached to the Galway Hospital's Haematology unit.

Dr Goodyear said that when the issue came up for discussion, action was already under way to deal with it.

Dr Goodyear was giving evidence at a Medical Council hearing yesterday into alleged professional misconduct by Dr Onada Olajide Onada, who is also facing a number of charges relating to harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

Dr Goodyear sent an email to Mr James Keane, Medical Manpower Manager, on September 29, 2010, in which he raised a number of issues including Dr Onada's alleged sending of inappropriate emails, texts and comments to female members of staff.

Dr Onada denies all charges.

"Dr Onada started work in August 2010 and it became common knowledge that between one to two weeks of his commencing the job inappropriate emails and texts were being sent to female members of the medical team."

When asked what effect the emails and texts were having on his female colleagues Dr Goodyear said: "It was a very uncomfortable atmosphere such that people did not want to work in isolation with Dr Onada. Obviously this was problematic. From a clinical point of view I actually found Dr Onada satisfactory enough," he added.

On Monday the hearing heard that the repeated failure of Dr Onada Olajide Onada to answer a cardiac pager at Galway University Hospital was “highly irresponsible”.

Among the allegations were failure to respond to his pager on one or more occasions and that he had engaged in harassing, inappropriate or intimidating email or SMS communications with up to four female colleagues.

He was dismissed from the hospital after disciplinary meetings.

Dr Maccon Keane, consultant oncologist at the hospital, said he was “extremely disturbed” by the alleged failure of Dr Onada to answer the cardiac page or to pass it to a colleague on November 10th, 2010, at the “major cardiac unit for the west of Ireland”.

Dr Keane said he “did not care” about Dr Onada’s reasoning that he left to catch a flight as the pager could have been given to an appropriately qualified colleague and “if you have to stay you have to stay”.

He described Dr Onada’s contention that he left the pager with the medical secretary as “highly irresponsible” and “negligent”.

Hospital voice communications manager Angela Rowan told the inquiry that on November 10th she looked for and found the cardiac pager unattended in a ward after many attempts to bleep it between 8.38am and 10.15am.

Her team tried the pager in a daily test message but there was no response. It is tested daily as it is “so important”, she said.

On cross-examination by Dr Onada, who is representing himself, Ms Rowan said pagers can malfunction but she had tested the cardiac pager Dr Onada had left three times after getting it back and it worked.

Dr Onada, who was on shift until 9am, said he was “technically” not supposed to answer bleeps after 9am.

The failure to respond to a cardiac bleep was “highly irresponsible” and underestimated the significance of the situation, consultant haematologist Dr Amjad Hayat said yesterday.

Dr Hayat outlined a complaint received from Dr M about inappropriate text and graphic messages which offended her. Dr M, who has given her evidence in private to the inquiry, received the messages after going for a drink with Dr Onada. When asked about it Dr Onada said the messages were a joke or banter, Dr Hayat said.

Dr Hayat advised him not to do it again.

The ongoing inquiry was adjourned until this Friday.


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