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Physiotherapist accused over near-naked oil massage

6 August 2008

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A physiotherapist has been accused of “unprofessional” behaviour after allegedly asking a woman to undress before giving her an oil massage during an appointment for lower back pain.

Albert Constable, 50, was alleged to have offered no explanation for asking the woman, referred to only by her initials SW in proceedings, to remove items of clothing at a doctors’ surgery in Lanarkshire.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) also heard he used inappropriate language towards the patient during the appointment at Larkhall GP surgery. The physiotherapist is further accused of allegations towards a second female patient.

Giving evidence at the hearing in Glasgow, SW said: “He put his hands on both my hip bones, on my hip joints. He then lowered himself until his face was across from my abdomen.

“I still didn’t know what he was doing. He said he had I noticed that my pelvic joints were tilted.”

She went on: “I felt a bit uncomfortable at that point with my trousers off, with this man kneeling down with his head just across from my abdomen.”

SW was then asked to lie face down on the treatment couch.

Mr Constable, believed to be from Bothwell, Lanarkshire, was practising physiotherapy around the Glasgow area at the time.

Mr Constable denies that his fitness to practise as a registered health professional is impaired by reason of his misconduct. The allegations brought by the two female patients are also denied.

He accepts that he failed to offer chaperones to the patients but does not feel this impaired his fitness to practise. He also accepts that he did not inform the HPC of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s decision in July 2005 to impose conditions on his membership but did not think this impaired his fitness to practise.

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“It is not the responsibility of a manager to oversee the clinician’s fitness to practise. The HPC and the CSP, if the practitioner was chartered, hold responsibility for this. As a clinician of any profession it is vital to perform potentially embarrassing tests but this is a clinical issue. The practitioner in question should have explained the reason for the assessment technique and gained full and informed consent. Yes, he most certainly should have also offered a chaperone for this” – Nick S, Lancs