DOCTOR’S VODKA AND COKE ON MOTORWAY VERGE

A drunken doctor who drove down the M4 with ready mixed bottles of vodka and coke in his car has been suspended for a year.

Dr Martin Searle, 50 formerly of the Taw Hill Medical Practice, Swindon, Wilts, crashed the car in ‘a blur’ after a boozy night out with a friend.

He took a drink at the roadside and then tried to hide the bottles on the motorway verge as police arrived, the General Medical Council heard.

The doctor, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, told police he had been at the Groves Company Inn, Swindon, and had drunk a pint and half before driving home in the rain at 8.30pm.

‘I must have been overtaking. It seemed to me I hit surface water and aqua planed. I hit the brakes.

I couldn’t say what speed I was doing. It’s a bit of blur. ‘I went through a 360 degree spin and hit the front and back of the car.’

He added that he was ‘terrified’ there could have been another collision, with a car ploughing into the back of him.

The doctor failed a breath test after the incident on January 15 last year. Searle admitted he had been drinking at lunchtime – when he was working and had downed a bottle waiting at the roadside.

The doctor said he made his vodka cocktails in the practice car park and was ‘not proud of it.’

Police searched the crash site and discovered two bottles of vodka and diet coke.

The GMC hearing was told Searle was suspended for another drink driving offence on May 15 2005 when he was seen crashing into roadside bollards.

Publicity following his first conviction led to him leaving his Swindon practice for locum work.

For the 2005 offence, Searle was given a £400 fine and £75 costs. His second offence cost him a £500 fine with £50 costs. He was suspended from driving for five years.

Panel chair Polly Clarke said his convictions were of great concern, but more alarming was the way Searle had hidden his convictions.

She said it was essential that doctors notified the governing body should they be charged, given a caution or conviction.

‘The panel considers Dr Searle’s failure to notify the GMC of last year’s conviction amounts to misconduct and undermines public confidence in the profession.’

She added: ‘Given the nature of the findings it has decided it is in both the public interest and the interest of the doctor that his registration is suspended forthwith.’

At the GMC hearing, Searle, who did not attend, admitted both drink driving offences and drinking at work. He also admitted his behaviour was not of a standard expected of a doctor.

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