Barham: Doctor’s life in turmoil over child assault charge

A DOCTOR accused of assaulting a child told last night how his life “fell to pieces” when he was arrested.

A DOCTOR accused of assaulting a child told last night how his life “fell to pieces” when he was arrested.

Dr Paul Thomas, who runs Gipping Valley Practice in Barham, near Claydon, fears he will lose his surgery if convicted.

Speaking to the EADT after the latest hearing in his case yesterday, Thomas claimed he was the victim of an “injustice” and vowed to clear his name.

The 58-year-old, of Norwich Road, Claydon, said: “I’m the victim here. I didn’t hit the child, but you can’t prove a negative.”

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The alleged incident is said to have taken place on September 11. Thomas was arrested ten days later and yesterday entered a not guilty plea to assault by beating at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich. He is due to stand trial in February.

He has taken a leave of absence from the surgery, admitting he was not fit to practise because of the “emotional turmoil” he was going through.

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However, he has not been suspended by the primary care trust, NHS Suffolk. His patients are being cared for at a surgery in Ipswich.

Speaking of his arrest, Thomas said: “I fell to pieces. I’m a decent man. I am not violent and have never hit anyone in my life.”

Relatives of Thomas have vowed to support him “all the way” through his legal battle.

His nephew, Robert Nichols, 38, from Swaffham, Norfolk, said: “The whole family are sticking by him through all of this. We will back him 100%”

Thomas also told of his worries that the charge could scupper his 18-year fight for a permanent building to replace the current portable ones.

He said: “I fear my patients will never have its new doctors’ practice because if I lose my job, it is likely to close.

“It’s something I’ve been fighting for nearly 20 years.”

In April, he told of his concerns that health bosses were trying to end his contract and close the surgery, forcing his 15,000 patients to travel to other medical centres.

Consultation is still ongoing and NHS Suffolk has invited Thomas to submit a business case.

However, there are now concerns the process may be shelved.

Tony Morgan, chairman of the Friends of Gipping Valley Practice, said: “The first thing to say is how much he is appreciated by the patients. They are missing him.

“This alleged assault has held things up. It’s extremely frustrating for him. All the villages round here have got no other facilities other than Dr Thomas.”

In November 2002, Thomas suffered a near-fatal diving accident which prevented him from working for more than a year due to the seriousness of his injuries.

Thomas is due to stand trial before magistrates in Ipswich on February 24, 25 and 28. He has been placed on condition bail in the meantime.

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