Boyfriend troubles land psychologist before tribunal

16:00, Dec 11 2009

A former Hamilton psychologist faces charges of misconduct after allegedly entering into a relationship with a patient.

Susan Jury was a clinical psychologist with Waikato District Health Board until it terminated her contract after claims of misconduct were raised by a patient's family.

Evidence from the patient's former wife and other family members alleged that Ms Jury became personally involved with the father of five, who is now separated from his wife. His daughter believes he continues to live with Ms Jury.

At a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing in Hamilton yesterday director of proceedings Aaron Martin outlined the charges against Ms Jury, including allegedly failing to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with her client. Ms Jury did not appear at yesterday's hearing.

The patient, his former wife and family have permanent name suppression.

The tribunal, chaired by Bruce Corkill, QC, heard that following an attempted suicide in July 2007 the patient had been informally admitted to the Henry Bennett Centre and discharged later that month. He was then referred to Waikato DHB clinical psychologist Ms Jury for treatment.

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The patient told his wife that he needed to spend time with Ms Jury as she had become seriously ill. In written evidence Ms Jury denied the relationship and said that her patient continued to pursue her through her son.

The patient's wife said that in December 2007 she had seen text messages on her husband's phone from Ms Jury's son asking him to go to Auckland and look at vehicles with both he and his mother.

"My suspicions were growing. He did not come home that night and when I asked him where he had spent the night he said he slept in the car at a supermarket carpark. He never returned home to sleep again while I was in the house," she said.

The patient's daughter said she saw Ms Jury and her father together at her leaving party at Firecats strip club where her father and Ms Jury stayed until 4am.

"Dad has asked me if he could bring his `girlfriend'. I knew that my Dad and `Sue', who I now know to be Susan Jury were a couple before I learnt that Sue was Dad's psychologist," she said.

The man's former wife said their marriage broke down after she complained to the DHB about his alleged relationship with Ms Jury. "He smashed up my car and later threatened me so I withdrew my complaint against Ms Jury with the DHB," she said.

Waikato DHB employee relations manager Gregory Peploe said Ms Jury was "temporarily removed from her duties" in January 2008 and her employment terminated in August 2008 following a DHB investigation. Clinical psychologist Fiona Kennedy said it was clear from Ms Jury's written evidence that while the patient was her client he visited her at home, which was inappropriate. "It reflects a failure by Ms Jury to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. This type of involvement indicates there was an inappropriate personal relationship."

The tribunal reserved its decision.

Waikato Times