As it is an incident that most members of the public would apparently be appalled by, and presuming a doctor is unfit to work, a finding of impairment would likely follow if the matter were to reach the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (“MPT”).

In Dr G’s case there was a single incident on a day in September 2019 when the doctor attended work in an unfit state due to intoxication. He admitted the single allegation and he promptly self-referred himself to the GMC regarding his conduct.  Almost a decade before, due to being convicted of driving under the influence, Dr G had been in regulatory difficulties and agreed undertakings with the GMC.  These were taken into account by the MPT though they also noted the matter before them was still a relatively isolated incident.

The MPT found that there was serious misconduct and that a finding of impairment was necessary to mark its severity.  They found that the misconduct offended all three limbs of the overarching objective in s.1 of the Medical Act 1983 (maintaining public safety, maintaining public trust and maintaining professional standards).  Dr G was made subject to conditions for 18 months which included his having a workplace reporter.  The conditions were to be reviewed at the end of the 18 month period.

In the cases that reach the MPTS or GMC concerning alcohol or drugs, related health and personal details frequently form part of the case.  Indeed, in Dr G’s case the single incident was part of the wider case with other issues.  Single instances should be dealt with locally and support should be offered where there are issues with their roots in health related concerns.

When a case is investigated by the GMC as a matter related to health a doctor may be subject to a health assessment which can in some cases include a psychiatric report.  A GMC health assessment will not however be appropriate where a doctor is already receiving treatment and their employer and occupational health are aware and already providing support.  In other cases, it is possible to either prevent a matter escalating or agree undertakings by being able to show full insight and remediation.

In addition to the regulatory concerns there are other practical and legal consequences that can arise.  If you any queries about your practice please contact us directly for advice on any fitness to practise matters and other legal advice.