Sydney Morning Herald
Former patient of psychiatrist Ong Ming Tan tells of ‘betrayal’
By Paul Bibby
July 12, 2015
Sixteen months after Ong Ming Tan was jailed for inappropriately touching a group of young patients suffering from serious mental illnesses, one victim has told Fairfax Media that the Greenwich based Northside clinic knew what was happening but failed to act.
She said that in May 2011, six months before the first patient complained about Tan’s abuse, staff at the clinic brought serious concerns about him to the attention of management.
“I felt sick and betrayed as I heard evidence [in Tan’s criminal trial] that a psychologist had brought to the attention of Northside’s management that Dr Tan had said to a patient: ‘I will bend you over my knee – I will spank you for being a very naughty girl’,” the woman said.
“I cannot help but wonder, had Northside’s management paid attention to the concern raised by the psychologist in May, whether I would have been spared the manipulation and abuse that occurred in my sessions with Dr Tan during that year.”
She said the clinic’s continuing refusal to accept responsibility was “bitterly disappointing and infuriating”.
“Northside management’s actions have not been in best interest of their patients, but in the sole interest of preserving their reputation and profitable business model,” she said.
“I wish they could recognise that their denial is both delegitimising and cruel and has further segregated me from an institution I once turned to for support.”
Over the course of 12 months of private therapy sessions, Tan touched the women inappropriately, kissed them and repeatedly made sexually suggestive comments towards them.
He turned them against their families and friends, and threatened to have each of the women put under guardianship if they disclosed what went on.
Seven of the women are now suing the clinic for negligence in the NSW Supreme Court, claiming that it failed to respond to, address, or prevent the abuse from continuing despite multiple “red flags”.
The clinic maintains that Tan’s actions were “highly devious” and that it was unaware of what was happening.
“As soon as the clinic became aware of the allegations, it acted immediately and suspended the doctor from his visiting appointment at the clinic and worked closely with the police during their investigations,” the Northside’s CEO, Anne Mortimer, said.
“Northside Clinic deeply regrets the pain and suffering caused by Dr Tan during his private consultations with these patients.”
But the solicitor representing Tan’s victims, Sally Gleeson, said it was “beyond belief” that the clinic had refused to accept liability given what had come out during Tan’s criminal trial.
“At some point, they need to put their hands up and do the right thing by their previous patients, patients who have been damaged for life,” said Ms Gleeson, of law firm Turner Freeman.
“I suggest that they wake up to the reality of their legal obligations and begin to behave in the way that they purport to run their organisation; with decency and integrity.”