Dr Robert Armstrong (2006)
Episodes: 4170 – 4173
Spouse: Elaine Armstrong
Children: Brad Armstrong, Rachel Armstrong, Tamsyn Armstrong
Occupation: Head of Emergency Medicine
We first hear about Robert Armstrong when Rachel left a message for him to phone her after she was being harassed in the workplace by Dr Helpman and she wanted her father’s advice. He phoned her back and his advice was for her to “pull her head in”, to ignore Dr Helpman’s blackmail and false reviews so that he could save his career instead of Rachel’s. He had spoken to Dr Helpman and found out about her relationship with Kim but she set her father straight, that she ended being his therapist after only two sessions because she fell in love with him.
Dr Robert Armstrong arrived in Summer Bay to recommend his daughter Rachel for the position of Junior Registrar in the Emergency Department. He was appointed as the new Regional Director of Emergency and he assisted Rachel when Dan was brought into the Emergency Department after a car accident. He briefed Leah and Peter about Dan’s condition and that he had a lacerated liver and swelling in the brain.
Robert met Kim Hyde after Rachel’s impromptu tour of the hospital and commented that they made a very good couple. He suggested dinner at a fancy restaurant for all three of them but Rachel declined and said that she would rather have dinner at home and that she and Kim would cook, Robert would bring the bottle of wine. Before the dessert arrived, Robert made a mysterious phone call and mentioned that everything was going well but that he didn’t want to rush her, he wanted to make a “slowly slowly” approach.
He was previously consulted over the phone by Rachel during the situation with Dr Helpman over her sexual harassment complaint in the workplace but he would not offer his help or support. He came to the Bay to make amends for his previous mistakes but Rachel said that his praise was out of character for her father unless he wanted something. He was known as a perfectionist, Rachel followed in her father’s footsteps in medicine until she chose to study Psychiatry, much to Robert’s disgust.
In 2002 Elaine and Robert had lunch in the City, they were involved in a car accident and Robert was driving. Robert was okay after the accident but Elaine sustained a severe head injury (acute amnesia) after the accident. She resided in a nursing home which was now closer to the Bay. Rachel, Kim and Robert were going to visit Elaine at the Nursing Home the day after the dinner. Robert was pleased that he could finally patch things up with his daughter.
Under a pier we saw Robert talking on the phone again mentioning that Rachel was his daughter and that whatever he had planned for her that she would do it but he needed a little more time to convince her. Eventually he agreed to talk to Rachel.
He came to Rachel’s place to talk to her and it was revealed that Robert operated on a patient three years ago and now the patient is suing him. The operation was successful but there was nerve damage traced back to an excess in scar tissue. It was caused during poor technique during the original procedure. A witness had seen him have a few drinks at Heffernan’s and it was the same day that the operation took place as well as when the accident that Robert caused that injured Elaine. We learn that he was responsible for ruining Elaine’s life. Robert wanted Rachel to testify that she was there on that day otherwise his career would be ruined. It was revealed that he pulled a few strings to get Rachel the job in Emergency and his ulterior motive was that one good deed deserves another. He would be struck off as a doctor and have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in compensation unless Rachel testifies.
Rachel thought that it was justice that there was a case against him and that he needed to take responsibility for his own actions, instead he used blackmail on Rachel – if he’s charged, found guilty of professional negligence then he’d lose his job and won’t be able to afford the cost of the five star 24 hour a day facility that Elaine was getting at the Nursing Home in order to survive.
Kim confronted Robert, he told Kim that families are supposed to support each other in times of trouble, Rachel had a privileged existence because of his work and he thought that it was time to give something back.
There was a final confrontation on the Pier with Rachel and she said that she would not lie nor back him up in court, she told Robert that she never wanted to see him again and that she and Kim would take care of her Mother.
Rachel received a phone call from her Father’s secretary, he had cleared out his office and disappeared and that he’d taken the money out of most of his accounts and that he could be anywhere, he had an escape plan all along and Rachel admitted that he was a coward.
Julie showed Rachel the newspaper article: “Prominent doctor now in hiding” it made the front page of the Coastal News.
Brad tried to contact Robert when Elaine died but he got nowhere because no-one knew where he was.
Robert Armstrong was hiding a big secret from his family and the truth came out in 2007 when Heather McCabe came to Summer Bay with her daughter Tamsyn to track down the Armstrong siblings, Brad and Rachel. They met and Heather explained that she used to work for Robert in the operating theatres as a scrub nurse. They had a brief affair while Robert was having marriage difficulties. Heather became pregnant with Tamsyn who was Robert’s child, she had to leave her job and he provided child support for her until it ran out eight months prior to them arriving in the Bay due to Robert going into hiding.