Surgeon is spared driving ban to save NHS money

A FEMALE surgeon has escaped a driving ban - because of the cost to the NHS of arranging for others to cover her shifts.

Dr Catherine Parchment-Smith collected 12 points on her licence for a string of motoring offences, including speeding and using her mobile phone while driving.

It took her over the threshold which triggers an automatic six-month ban - but magistrates in Pontefract showed leniency after they were

told her bosses would have to pay for locums to cover her shifts if she was off the road.

Instead, the consultant surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, escaped with a seven day ban and fine.

Prosecuting, Karen Mann revealed police spotted the 44-year-old mother-of-three, from Leeds, driving across a hatched area in Leeds at 5.30pm on July 8 last year.

She told police she was stood in queuing traffic, was directly next to the junction exit and decided to drive across the two to three metre wide hatchings to get to the exit, and admitted an offence of driving on a motorway verge.

In September 2007 she was handed a fixed penalty notice after she was caught by a fixed camera committing a traffic light offence.

In April 2008 she got a fixed penalty for speeding while driving to Dewsbury and District Hospital for on-call work.

And in September 2009 she was spotted by police using a mobile phone in her car while stood at traffic lights.

She claimed the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust would face paying up to 250 an hour to locum doctors to replace her on call shift duties for trauma and general surgery, costing thousands of pounds over six months.

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, Dan Smith, said: "She doesn't ask you to consider hardship for her or her dependents, it's the NHS that is the concern."

She was fined 450 and told to pay 85 costs.

Presiding Magistrate Malcom Clowson said: "We have come to this decision having regard to what you have told us and what we have read about the NHS trust.

"We have taken into consideration the cost. We are all taxpayers here and we pay enough tax. The main thing here is the pain and suffering that could occur to those involved in trauma and accidents.

"They are the people we are thinking about today, we are not especially

thinking about Catherine Parchment-Smith."