A Derbyshire doctor who was convicted of stealing hundreds of pills has had his license to practice medicine reinstated.
On December 17, 2015, police found a total of 551 tablets of tramadol – a Class C painkiller – at the home of Dr Ashley Wilkinson.
Dr Wilkinson, confessed that he had stolen the drugs while working at Chesterfield Royal Hospital – where he was in his first year of training.
Now a tribunal has ruled that his license to practice medicine should be returned.
He will, however, be bound by strict conditions for 18 months.
The tribunal, held by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, concluded on November 29, but the outcome has only now been made public.
It ruled that Dr Wilkinson’s “fitness to practise is no longer impaired by reason of his conviction”.
While at Chesterfield Royal, “concerns had been raised” about Dr Wilkinson’s “performance” and he was required to repeat his foundation year at Boston Pilgrim Hospital in Lincolnshire.
Police had conducted the search at Dr Wilkinson’s home while he was working in Boston.
Dr Wilkinson became a doctor in 2014 after gaining qualifications from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Lincoln Magistrates’ Court handed Dr Wilkinson a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years for the theft and possession of the Class C medication.
In September 2017, the tribunal service ruled that Dr Wilkinson’s license should be suspended for 12 months.
It had stated: “The 2017 tribunal considered that his actions represented a serious breach of trust and had the potential to put patients at serious risk of harm in that his theft of medications could potentially have denied patients access to them.
“It considered that this period of time would allow Dr Wilkinson sufficient time to reflect further on his behaviour and conviction and to fully develop his insight.”
Dr Wilkinson told the 2017 tribunal that “medicine was his passion” and that he “was deeply ashamed of what he had done”.
He accepted that he had “let down his family, patients and colleagues by his selfish actions”.
It took on board that Dr Wilkinson was under the strain of training to be a doctor but found his actions dishonest, illegal, abused his position, and breached public trust.
Now, a decision written by tribunal lead by chairman Neil Dalton, states: “The tribunal has taken account of the evidence which demonstrates that Dr Wilkinson has reflected on his conviction and on its impact on public confidence in the profession.
“It also noted that Dr Wilkinson’s risk of re-offending was low.”
Representing Dr Wilkinson, David Morris stated: “Dr Wilkinson’s registration has been suspended for more than 12 months which has sent the appropriate signal of the seriousness of his offending to the doctor, the medical profession and the public.”
For 18 months, Dr Wilkinson will be bound by stringent conditions, which will limit his ability to apply for jobs.
For example, he must get the approval of the General Medical Council (GMC) advisor before accepting a new job and must stop work if told to by the authority.
He must notify GMC of any jobs he accepts, before starting, and if any disciplinary proceedings are started against him.
Dr Wilkinson must have a workplace reporter approved by his responsible officer, must tell GMC about these arrangements before starting and having a reporter approved.
He must only prescribe, administer, and have primary responsibility for drugs under arrangements which have been agreed with his responsible officer and GMC advisor.
Dr Wilkinson must be closely supervised in all of his posts by a clinical supervisor, who must be approved by GMC.
A spokesperson for the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We strive to offer all our trainees the best possible educational experience, so we were disappointed to learn that Dr Wilkinson admitted breaching his position of trust at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, during the four months he spent with us in 2014, as his junior doctor training rotation.
“When these thefts came to light at another hospital in 2016, we reviewed our policies and procedures for the storage and access of medication.
“We were satisfied that they were (and remain) robust – and that this was an individual act of dishonesty, where someone found a way to ‘misuse’ a system over a sustained period of time.
“It is the first incident of its type we have experienced with our F1 trainees in over 20 years.
“We understand that at last year’s hearing Dr Wilkinson has been declared fit to practice and we were pleased to read that he has shown considerable remorse for his actions.”
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service