- Dr Julius Awakame said psychiatry or psychology would not help patient
- He gave her name of Nigerian channel and told her to get ‘nice holy water’
- The 50-year-old’s employment at centre in Harwich, Essex, was terminated
- Tribunal has now ruled that his approach was ’empathetic and appropriate’
Dr Julius Awakame, 50, advised a patient to get help from a 24-hour church TV channel based in Nigeria because she might be possessed by demonic ‘special forces’
An NHS doctor who lost his job after he suggested a patient needed to be exorcised of demonic ‘forces’ has been cleared of wrongdoing after watchdogs said he was using his own Christian beliefs to help her.
Locum psychiatrist Dr Julius Awakame, 50, gave the woman the name of a 24-hour Nigerian television station run by an evangelical church in Lagos saying: ‘Neither psychiatry not psychology would be able to help because there are special forces at play.’
But the disturbed woman – who said she was a childhood victim of a ritualistic satanic paedophile ring – was so upset at the consultation she ‘switched off’ before fleeing the room at a health centre in Harwich, Essex.
She later claimed the church was ‘an abusive place’ for her and the fact Awkame mentioned it had ‘destroyed’ her faith in doctors and affected further therapy.
Later when a community psychiatric nurse quizzed Awkame whether the woman – known as Patient A – was possessed by demons, the medic replied: ‘She may well be.’
The consultation took place on January 23 2014 when Awakame was treating the vulnerable woman as an outpatient.
The doctor’s employment with the North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust was terminated the following month.
Awkame, who has since returned to his native Ghana, has now been cleared of misconduct after the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service said his approach was ’empathetic and appropriate’.
It concluded the Emmanuel TV channel and the associated website Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) was not expressing ‘extreme or pernicious views’.
Tribunal chairman David Kyle told the Manchester hearing: ‘By indicating that he was a Christian, Dr Awakame was being supportive and encouraging, in that he was giving Patient A a signal to indicate that she could speak freely.
‘The Tribunal does not believe that he was either talking about or pressing his own beliefs on her in order to persuade her to look for a spiritual, rather than medical solution.
‘Rather he was responding empathetically and appropriately to what he understood to be Patient A’s overpowering belief in the satanic ritual nature of the abuse she had experienced and its impact on her health.
‘Patient A had, however, rejected the church due to her previous experiences as she considered this to be part of the abuse that she had suffered – and somewhat inevitably, therefore, she was likely to react badly to any suggestion of spiritual solace.
‘By responding as he did, Dr Awakame was seeking to convey his understanding and acceptance of what Patient A strongly believed, not what he believed.
Mr Kyle added: ‘The Tribunal judged the online material to be moderate in its content – it was not pressing extreme or pernicious religious views.
‘SCOAN did not appear to be taking advantage of people or preying on their vulnerabilities. The content of the online material is appropriately described as ‘evangelical’ in nature.’
The Manchester hearing heard the patient had a ‘dissociative Identity’ personality disorder and had ‘multiple personalities’ having claimed she sexually abused by her own parents and others in ‘satanic rituals’.
Awakame, formerly of Ipswich, then told Patient A: ‘I can see you are a Christian’, then asked her which church she went to.
Patient A said no church would have her and claimed she told him she had a ‘demon problem’.
The doctor then wrote down a website address for her to access. He told her the church run Nigerian TV station ran for 24 hours a day and was ‘specifically targeted for people who experienced similar situations.’
He said her problems ‘could only be addressed by the church’ wrote down the name and suggested she write a book about her experiences.
He also told Patient A he had watched the TV station and said there were ‘many people who had similar problems’ to her.
The patient alleged Awakame told her to ask the church to send her some ‘nice holy water’ to help with her problems before she walked out complaining of suicidal thoughts.
During a subsequent conversation with Patient A’s nurse Martin Rowe, Awakame said he ‘studied’ the Nigerian TV station ‘for hours’ and claimed the woman’s church had recognised she was possessed and had thrown her out.
Awakame worked for North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust (pictured). The consultation took place on January 23, 2014, when Awakame was treating the woman as an outpatient
Speaking of her emotional state following the meeting, Patient A said: ‘I had pretty much switched off after hearing Dr Awakame tell me that no psychiatrist or psychologist could help me as throughout my childhood my parents had told me that no one would believe me and no one would help me’.
Dr Awakame was reported to a consultant psychiatrist at the Trust by Mr Rowe the day after the consultation. An investigation was launched and he was subsequently sacked and referred to the GMC.
Awakame who worked in various hospitals in the NHS from 1997 to 2014 is currently working as a lecturer in ‘health informatics’ in his home country where he graduated in medicine in 1993.
He studied for a masters degree at the University College of London and a PhD at the University of Leeds.
In response to the allegations he said: ‘The patient recognised early on the implications of the satanic ritualistic abuses and the possible lasting contribution this must be making on her current presentation of multiple personalities over which she had no control.
‘If spiritual forces resulting from her history of satanic abuse were contributing to the current illness, it was difficult to see how medications or psychotherapy alone can resolve this.
‘She needed to resolve the unsolved spiritual side of one of the core problems.’
He said he specifically advised her to carry on with the medication that she was already taking – despite not being ‘particularly convinced medications alone even with psychotherapy would be enough in solving all the problem as she had already noticed and that if a major aspect of the initial trauma of satanic ritual abuse was not addressed’.