Craigavon Hospital medic, Dr Christopher Gilmour, who turned up to work drunk, escapes suspension at tribunal

A doctor, who turned up for work at Craigavon Area Hospital drunk, is not to be suspended, a medical tribunal has heard.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:20 pm

Dr Christopher Gilmour, who had previously been convicted of drink driving while working as a GP Partner in Ballynahinch, admitted attending work at the hospital in ‘an unfit state’.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal, held betweem September 13-15 this year, heard that Dr Gilmour, who qualified as a doctor from Queen’s University, Belfast, had been a GP from 2003 and 2010.

Dr Gilmour self-referred himself to the General Medical Council on March 3, 2010 following a road traffic accident after which he was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

At that time he agreed ‘undertakings’ with the GMC from June 2011 to July 2016 but following this he was ‘unable to remain in his GP partnership’.

He started working for the Southern Health Care Trust as a ‘speciality doctor in elderly care’ from December 2012 until his recent resignation on June 29 this year.

The September 2021 tribunal was to deal with claims Dr Gilmour attended work at Craigavon Hospital on September 4, 2019 ‘in an unfit state in that he was intoxicated with alcohol’. These initial concerns were raised with the GMC via a self-referral in on November 12. 2019.

On behalf of the GMC, Mr Clarke QC submitted to the Tribunal that Dr Gilmour’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct.

The QC said that Dr Gilmour’s conduct in turning up to work under the influence of alcohol was an act of ‘serious misconduct’ and would cause alarm to members of the public and a clear breach of proper professional standards.

Mr Clarke stated there was a necessity to find impairment in this case or public trust in the profession would be diminished.

In his submission to the Tribunal Dr Gilmour said he deeply regretted the incident on 4 September 2019 and accepted the GMC position that he was currently impaired.

Dr Gilmour added he now had more stable relationships and he had friends and colleagues to turn to. He further informed the Tribunal he had worked from April 2021 to June 2021 but he had resigned from that position, citing the long commute to his place of work.

The Tribunal considered Dr Gilmour’s actions in attending work at Craigavon Hospital when intoxicated ‘fell short of the standards of conduct reasonably expected of a doctor’ and that his conduct did ‘amount to misconduct which was serious’.

The Tribunal, having determined there was misconduct, went on to consider whether if, as a result of that misconduct, Dr Gilmour’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

The Tribunal considered that Dr Gilmour had demonstrated insight into his actions and his conditions, and was taking steps to remediate his misconduct. He had self-referred and was subsequently fully co-operating with the GMC. He made full admissions to the allegation and expressed remorse at his behaviour. The Tribunal determined that his act of resigning from his post at Craigavon Area Hospital was an example of his insight. Dr Gilmour told the Tribunal that he recognised that the 90 minute commute to work was too much for him.

In conclusion, the Tribunal found Dr Gilmour’s fitness to practise was impaired ‘by reason of misconduct’.

Mr Clarke QC said the appropriate sanction in this case would be to impose conditions on Dr Gilmour’s registration

Mr Clarke reminded the Tribunal that there had been previous regulatory proceedings taken against Dr Gilmour which resulted in him agreeing to undertakings with the GMC for a period of five years from 15 June 2011 to 29 July 2016. Mr Clarke stated that this was important as Dr Gilmour’s previous undertakings should be considered as part of the narrative of the case.

However, Mr Clarke said that while the misconduct was serious, Dr Gilmore had ‘shown significant insight’ and his conduct could fairly be described as ‘an isolated incident’.

Mr Clarke stated that although Dr Gilmour’s conduct in arriving at his place of work under the influence of alcohol amounted to serious misconduct, the work that Dr Gilmour had done since that incident, and the insight he had shown, weighed against a sanction of suspension. He argued that in these circumstances a sanction of suspension would be disproportionate and went on to state that it was not necessary to consider erasure as such a sanction would be disproportionate and unnecessary.

A number of sanctions were placed on Dr Gilmour including that the inform the GMC of any job or posting, including locum work, for 18 months.

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