A nurse who claimed a North-East doctor fondled her breasts after he sedated her was accused of exaggerating during a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing yesterday.

Dr Chandra Ganatra, 51, is said to have groped her after she was sedated for an operation.

Consultant anaesthetist David Weatherill told the hearing that the nurse would exaggerate stories of life in the operating theatre at the Dryburn and Shotley Bridge hospitals, in County Durham.

Ms A collapsed in tears last week when she said she was indecently assaulted by the doctor on more than a dozen occasions.

But giving evidence yesterday, Dr Weatherill told the hearing: "When telling stories, Ms A would rather make the most of them.

"It is common in conversations between an anaesthetist and nurses to talk about what happens in the theatre.

"I think her relating of incidents would at least be embellished and certainly veering towards exaggeration.

"I formed a view she was perhaps of a rather histrionic nature and I thought she was a rather immature personality."

Dr Ganatra is accused of improper conduct with young female patients awaiting minor gynaecological operations.

But Dr Weatherill backed Dr Ganatra's behaviour at work, saying he was merely carrying out his job.

He went on to describe a list of duties an anaesthetist performs during operations, including checking for blood loss and making sure heart monitoring pads remain in place under the patient's breasts.

Dr Weatherill said it was not unreasonable for an anaesthetist to put his hand inside a patient's gown to ensure the pads were in place.

"If these duties are unobserved, the effects can be catastrophic," he said.

Dr Weatherill told the committee that when he worked with Dr Ganatra he found him friendly and welcoming.

He went on: "He seemed to me to be compassionate.

"As a clinician he was a very valuable member of staff, experienced, capable."

He agreed that father-of-one Dr Ganatra could be tactile with staff but said this was never "inappropriate or over the top".

Dr Ganatra is said to have put patients and staff through four years of indecent behaviour at the Dryburn and Shotley Bridge hospitals.

The specialist allegedly groped three patients' breasts after sedating them for minor gynaecological surgery.

He is also said to have groped three nurses on the ward.

Dr Ganatra, of Dryburn road, Durham, denied serious professional misconduct. The hearing continues.