Robert Hampshire, Aussie psychiatrist, “a risk to the health and safety of the public”

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Sydney Morning Herald
Society shrink Dr Robert Hampshire’s career in tatters over lewd calls
By Kate McClymont
October 2, 2017

Psychiatrist Robert Hampshire

The colourful career of society shrink Dr Robert Hampshire appears to be all but over after he was caught sending lewd late-night texts to a client following a day of drinking.

On Friday the psychiatrist lost his appeal to be allowed to continue practising while he waits a full hearing of the matter.

In refusing to lift his suspension, Acting Judge Frank Marks of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that Dr Hampshire represented “a risk to the health and safety of the public”.

Judge Marks said that, given his prior troubled history with the Medical Council, Dr Hampshire “does not have good prospects of succeeding on his appeal”.

Dr Hampshire, 69, was once the poster boy for conspicuous consumption. Back in the 1990s, the high-flying, property-developing psychiatrist and his then-wife Sally were A-listers on the Sydney social scene.

The entertained lavishly at their home, the fabled Altona, an eight-bedroom waterfront mansion in Point Piper which, several owners later, sold for $60 million in 2016.

The intervening years have not been kind to Dr Hampshire. His property empire went bust and he was bankrupted in 2010.

In 1990, Dr Hampshire was prohibited from prescribing drugs of addiction after he was found to be self-administering pethidine.

Two years later, he was caught stealing prescription forms which he then forged to maintain his pethidine addiction. He also substituted false urine samples to avoid detection.

He was struck off for two years and did not reapply to practice again until 1999.

Dr Hampshire failed to renew his registration in August 2009. Although he was informed that he was unregistered and not covered for professional indemnity insurance, he continued to practice.

Between 2004 and 2009, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) received a number of complaints about Dr Hampshire’s intoxication. In October 2009, doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital notified authorities that Dr Hampshire was incoherent and had trouble with his co-ordination after consuming vodka and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Two months later, a staff specialist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital made a similar complaint.

In February 2010, Dr Hampshire crashed his ute into a pole at 9.20am. A court later heard he had been drinking vodka until 4am and taken 15 anti-hypertensive tablets for what he claimed was a chronic heart condition. He was given a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to charges of negligent driving, driving while suspended and driving with a low-range blood alcohol level.

In 2013, Dr Hampshire was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for practising for 18 months without professional indemnity insurance. He was fined $4950.

The most recent complaint about him was made to the HCCC on April 26, 2017. A week earlier a woman, who had consulted Dr Hampshire for a medico legal evaluation, accidentally called Dr Hampshire at 7pm. She hung up as soon as she realised her mistake.

Dr Hampshire then made what the tribunal heard were “a number of lewd and sexually-related comments” by way of both phone calls and text messages.

“There can be no doubt, as conceded by [Dr Hampshire], that he engaged in misconduct of a serious kind,” Judge Marks said.

Dr Hampshire said that, because he had been drinking most of the day at the birthday lunch of a friend, whose name he could not remember, and had taken a sleeping tablet, temazepam, he could not recall the phone calls and texts.

In breach of the conditions attached to his practicing certificate, Dr Hampshire explained he was taking anti-depression medication and sleeping tablets after the death of his 19-year-old son, who fell off a balcony while on a ski trip to New Zealand in 2014.

Judge Marks found that Dr Hampshire’s “consistent breach … of his practice conditions over a period of time” meant the tribunal could not return his medical certificate pending a full hearing.

“There can be no confidence, because of his attitude or, at the least, indifference, that he will abide by practice conditions if it does not suit him,” Judge Marks said.

Robert Hampshire