‘Creepy’ Shropshire hospital doctor is struck off

A doctor who worked at a Shropshire hospital has been struck off over behaviour described by colleagues as ‘creepy’ after a panel found the case against him proved.

The Princess Royal Hospital
The Princess Royal Hospital

Concerns were raised about Mahendar Katarapu’s behaviour at Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in 2017, and a remote hearing found 39 allegations concerning six women proved, and revoked his registration.

Police charged him with sexual assault, but he was acquitted at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel heard he had been working at PRH at the time of the incidents, and was dismissed by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH)after an inquiry there.

The MPTS hearing took place in November and December last year, and its report said colleagues described Dr Katarapu as “weird” and “creepy” both to each other and during the police investigation.

The allegations surfaced while he was practising as a specialist registrar in General and Acute Medicine at the PRH, on a year-long fixed-term contract that began in August 2016.

Dr Katarapu, who qualified in Vijayawada in India in 2002, stood accused being “repeatedly in inappropriate proximity” to six colleagues or touching them inappropriately.

“The General Medical Council alleged some of Dr Katarapu’s conduct was sexually motivated,” the MPTS summary said.

“The investigation commenced on February 23, 2017, when Dr Katarapu was excluded from the trust pending the outcome of the investigation.

“At a subsequent disciplinary hearing the trust found the allegations brought against Dr Katarapu were well-founded and, on July 10, 2017, he was dismissed by reason of gross misconduct.

“Dr Katarapu was subsequently acquitted at Shrewsbury Crown Court of the charges of sexual misconduct brought against him.”

Dr Katarapu faced 41 separate allegations.

Nick Walker, representing the GMC, “submitted that Dr Katarapu was a ‘sexual menace’ who preyed on women, intimidated staff members and showed a total disregard and lack of respect for those predominantly in a junior position to him, but women generally”, the MPTS report said. Dr Katarapu denied the allegations “at every stage”, Mr Walker added.

The MPTS report quotes evidence from one of Dr Katarapu’s victims – known as “Ms B” – that said: “Initially I felt he was targeting me because I am a quiet, unassuming person. I like to go to work and get on with the job in hand.

“I perceived that he thought I would put up with his behaviour and not say anything to anyone because of the type of person that I am and because I am a member of healthcare staff and he is in a position of authority.”

Another, “Ms D”, said she “began suffering from more severe panic attacks and had a breakdown in 2018”, and took five months off work and was diagnosed and treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I am regularly haunted by the thought of him having access to vulnerable people,” she added.

The three-member panel found all the allegations were proven, on the balance of probability, except one charge that he waited outside a staff kitchen for one woman to go in before approaching her and another that he brushed against her body with his while alone with her in there.

Dr Katarapu was absent and unrepresented at the hearing, but the report says the three-member panel was satisfied he was aware the remote hearing was taking place and he had waived his right to attend and would be “very unlikely” to attend any rescheduled future hearing.

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