Dr Hamilton’s behaviour made her colleagues comfortable (Picture: Shutterstock)
A hospital consultant has been suspended after she went into work ‘under the influence of alcohol’.
Judith Hamilton had been drinking during the two days before she went into work at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London, a disciplinary panel heard.
The Medical Practitioners Council hearing heard instead of phoning in sick, she went in ‘hungover’ because she ‘knew she would not have face-to-face contact with patients’.
But while she didn’t see any patients in person, Dr Hamilton did review patient notes and carry out telephone clinics, reasoning she could have amended any mistakes later on.
The hearing was told the 53-year-old ‘well-respected’ doctor made colleagues both ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘upset’ and the committee decided she put patients at risk.
The panel also heard she had failed to report she had recently been convicted of failing to stop after an accident after she crashed into a parked car but drove off.
It is mandatory for those in the medical profession to refer themselves to the General Medical Council if convicted of an offence ‘without delay’, however, Dr Hamilton did not do so for 10 months.
She claimed she had ‘intended’ to notify the GMC, but had ‘wrongly made an assessment of the gravity’ of the offence.
Dr Hamilton was previously suspended for four months in 2008 after she drove to work to operate on a new mum who suffered a haemorrhage and needed a hysterectomy – while twice the drink-drive limit.
At the time of the incident, Dr Hamilton was working as an on-call locum for Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
She was woken up at home before driving to the hospital but was stopped by police before she arrived.
She was later fined £500 and banned from driving for 20 months.
Dr Hamilton qualified as a doctor 1992 at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School before specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology.
She become a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in 2005.
The panel heard she went into work on August 6, 2020, under the influence of alcohol after drinking on August 4 and 5.
She admitted the incident, telling the panel she was hungover and ‘suffering the effects of alcohol’, but had not drunk on that day.
The panel was told there had been ‘a build-up of several stressors in her personal and professional life’ including ‘the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic’ which had made her working life ‘very difficult’.
Her colleagues told the panel they had been left feeling ‘uncomfortable’ and discussed ‘how upsetting [they] found the situation.’
‘She knew she would not have any direct, face-to-face contact with patients, and she only went in to complete some administrative work and hold a telephone clinic,’ the hearing was told.
‘She suggested that her notes could have been amended at a later stage.’
The panel chose to suspend Dr Hamilton for three months after deciding her behaviour was not ‘fundamentally incompatible with continued registration’ and did not warrant depriving the public of ‘an otherwise clinically competent doctor’.
It did, however, conclude: ‘By turning up to work under the influence of alcohol, Dr Hamilton put patients at potential risk of harm, undermined public confidence in the medical profession and compromised proper professional standards.’
The panel found that the car park incident was a minor accident and Dr Hamilton’s failure to leave her details led to her conviction, but her delay in reporting it to the GMC fell short of the standards expected of a doctor.
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