Surgeon is spared driving ban because it saves NHS money

A female surgeon has avoided a driving ban because of the cost to the NHS who would have to arrange for other surgeons to cover her shifts. Dr Catherine Parchment-Smith had reached 12 points on her licence after a string of offences which included using a mobile phone while driving, and speeding.

Her latest points took her over the threshold which triggers an automatic six-month driving ban. However, magistrates in Pontefract showed her leniency after they heard her bosses would have to pay for others to cover shifts if she was banned from the road. Instead, the consultant surgeon was given a 7 day ban and a fine.

Prosecutors told how the police spotted the 44-year-old mother-of-three, from Leeds; drive in an area of Leeds in July last year. She was at a standstill in queuing traffic and was directly next to the junction exit when she decided to drive across a two to three metre wide hatching zone to get to the exit, she also admitted to another offence of driving on a motorway verge.

Her earlier points included being caught by a fixed camera committing a traffic light offence, a fixed penalty for speeding while driving to Dewsbury and District Hospital for on-call work and being seen by the police using her mobile phone while at traffic lights. The surgeon argued that the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust would face paying up to £250 per hour for a replacement doctor which will end up costing thousands of pounds over her six month driving ban.

She told magistrates “I’ve got a ten-year-old Ford Focus; I’m not a boy racer. It would be extremely expensive to arrange for locums and internal cover would be difficult to arrange. I’m just going to have to be more careful in future, even more careful than I have been. I regret it very much and won’t be doing it again.”

Her solicitor argued that she was not asking for the judge to consider her hardship, it was the NHS that is her concern. She was fined £450 and told to pay £85 costs. Although the doctor escaped a long ban it is unlikely that she will escape from a bigger motor insurance quote when she renews her policy.

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