Doctor, 25, is suspended after lying that she had cancer to her bosses at Broadmoor Hospital where patients include the Yorkshire Ripper
By Lara Keay
December 12, 2019
A junior doctor at Broadmoor Hospital who lied about having breast cancer has been banned from treating patients.
Trainee psychiatrist Dr Amini Rafi, 25, told colleagues at the maximum security hospital she had the disease, was four years older than she was, and that she was a member of the Royal College of Physicians.
Ms Rafi, of Reading Berkshire, claimed she told the lies because she was under ‘stress’ after the death of a patient and she had genuine anxiety about getting cancer because of her family’s history.
At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, she admitted dishonest misconduct and was suspended from practice for nine months after a disciplinary panel said her lies had put the lives of Broadmoor patients at risk.
The high security hospital was previously home to the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and London nail bomber David Copeland.
Ms Rafi told of how she had been under ‘stress’ due to the death of a patient at Broadmoor and the collapse of a member of staff in the car park.
She claimed she was ‘anxious’ about getting breast cancer as there had been a history of the illness in her family and believed she had the illness at the time.
The investigation began after rumours circulated at the hospital about Ms Rafi’s claims she was a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a hospital registrar at ‘ST6’ level when she started at Broadmoor in February 2018.
In fact she had just completed her second year of training as a psychiatrist having qualified at Leeds University medical school in 2014.
But at the time she started her job she also made false claims to her clinical supervisor about having cancer and was advised to tell senior staff about her condition.
She kept up the lies until a review meeting in June 2018 where she was asked about her background.
Ciaran Rankin lawyer for the General medical Council told the hearing: ‘The doctor deliberately misled colleagues at the hospital where she worked on a number of occasions.
‘These include her date of birth, her membership to the Royal College of Physicians and also stated she worked as a medical registrar.
‘She also stated that the GMC made an error on her registration by recording 2014 as the date of her registration.
‘She also stated she carried out medical registrar locum work at an early stage in her career.
‘Because of the concerns raised, documentary evidence was obtained and a meeting was held to deal with the issues.
‘At part of this meeting, documentary proof was submitted to contradict her previous statements to her colleagues.
‘She initially denied any wrongdoing and it took a lengthy period of time before the doctor admitted she had misled her colleagues.
‘When pressed to why that occurred, she said she was under considerable domestic stress that caused her to panic when confronted with questions and when she was confronted then she discussed the early stages.
‘The second meeting occurred on 13 June 2018 to offer support to the doctor for her ongoing issues that she raised in particular with her own health.
‘This was something that was discussed on many occasions over a period of time with Dr Rafi’s clinical supervisor. These were serious matters which were dishonest over a period of time from February onwards.’
In a statement a senior colleague known only as Dr J said: ‘Dr Rafi stated she had lied when she told colleagues about having previously had breast cancer.
‘She said that she had told her her current clinical supervisor and her education supervisor that she had had a diagnosis of breast cancer for which she had received treatment in the past.
‘Specifically she said that she had told them that she had received surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer on two or three occasions and that this was not true.’
In her defence Rafi who is currently not working, admitted lying about her cancer diagnosis and added: ‘I accept this was dishonest but I had anxiety about breast cancer because there was strong history of it in the family history.
‘I did hold a genuine belief I had breast cancer at the time. Looking back on my time at Broadmoor Hospital, it was the worst time in my professional life.
‘There were two particular episodes which I found very stressful, namely the death of a longstanding patient and the collapse of a member of staff in the car park.
‘I felt distressed by these incidents and felt unsupported and personally blamed for the death of the patient.
‘I did not feel that the level of clinical supervision I received at Broadmoor was the same as I was accustomed to in previous roles. At the time I was also taking exams.’
She claimed the incorrect assertion she had worked as a medical registrar had arisen from comments ‘made informally by psychiatry colleagues, who were impressed by her medical assessments.’
She said some colleagues had asked her medical advice about Broadmoor patients as a result but she insisted she had advised them to speak to more senior doctors.
Suspending Rafi, panel chairman Mrs Kim Parsons told her: ‘Dr Rafi’s dishonesty, in claiming to have worked as a ST6 and to have been a member of the Royal College of Physicians, had the potential to put patient safety at Broadmoor at risk.
‘Colleagues may have treated her medical opinion as carrying more weight, believing she had more experience than she had.
‘Also, colleagues had shared with her how they did not feel confident in dealing with physical health issues.
‘The tribunal found that this risk was exacerbated at Broadmoor as there was limited access to specialist medical treatment.
‘Patients with acute medical care needs had to be transferred to a local hospital and this was more challenging because of the nature of the secure Broadmoor environment.
‘Although Dr Rafi said she had always caveated her advice, the tribunal found that her actions had the potential to put patients at risk.’
Mrs Parsons added: ‘Throughout this period she maintained the lies on a number of occasions and with a range of colleagues.
‘On none of these occasions did she take the opportunity to set the record straight.
‘When Dr Rafi attended the meeting on 7 June, she initially lied again, including giving an incorrect date of birth and blaming inadequate GMC records for the discrepancies in her particulars.
‘At the first meeting with her clinical supervisor, Dr Rafi also volunteered a separate and distinct lie and explained that she needed treatment for breast cancer.
‘This was in contrast to going along with the rumour about her qualifications and experience, that had reached her clinical supervisor by the time of the first meeting.
‘Dr Rafi said in her evidence she had not received a diagnosis, nor had she undergone these treatments.
‘She explained that she signed the statement at a time when she was off work.
‘She said that she had been having trouble reading documents and that she was confused and meant to say she may need treatment, rather than she had received treatment.
‘The tribunal found it difficult to accept this explanation but it did take into account her assertion that she was indeed anxious of breast cancer as there was a strong history of breast cancer in her family.
‘The tribunal heard that Dr Rafi’s dishonest behaviour was likely to have been triggered by difficult situations such as exam pressure, a difficult family situation and pressure of work.
‘Dr Rafi still has to take further professional examinations in psychiatry, she is not currently in work.’
‘Any sanction lower than suspension would not be sufficient to protect the public or maintain public confidence in doctors.’
Ms Rafi will face a review hearing at a later date.