C was an anaesthetist and an intravenous drug-user who had been using a variety of drugs for 15 years, throughout which time he had been practising medicine. In 2000 he was suspended from work after being found in possession of morphine. He returned to work and by August 2009 he was taking analgesics, opiates and a local anaesthetic daily, both at home and at work, most of which he was stealing from the hospital where he worked.
His drug use and theft was discovered in August 2009 when he became seriously ill from an infection resulting from his from intravenous drug use. After discovery he made a genuine effort to abstain from drugs. However, in 2010, he was convicted of the theft of the drugs and received a suspended prison sentence. At the GMC’s Fitness to Practise Panel hearing he admitted to taking drugs at home and in the hospital car park. He denied taking drugs at work, even though drug paraphernalia had been found in his locker. The Panel did not find him to be a credible witness, concluding that he had dependence syndrome, and that his need for drugs was such that he lacked the self-control not to self-administer within the hospital. Given his misconduct and conviction for drug use, erasure was the appropriate sanction, even though C was a well-regarded and competent practitioner, and despite evidence from a psychiatrist that he would be fit to practise on a limited basis, with appropriate monitoring and supervision.
C challenged the Panel’s finding that he had taken drugs inside the hospital. The Court was of the view that the Panel had correctly directed itself on the use of circumstantial evidence, and the evidence demonstrated that C had persistently lied about, and minimised the extent of, his drug abuse. In view of this it was not improbable that he had lied about using drugs within the hospital, and, therefore, the Panel had been entitled to conclude that his drug use had become so out of control that he would not have had the self-control not to self-administer within the hospital. The Court also found that the paraphernalia found in his locker suggested that he had been using drugs whilst at work
Given the findings and the nature of the impairment, the sanction of erasure was considered appropriate by the Court.
Matthew Cornish v GMC  EWHC 1196 (QB)