Sacked Peterborough radiologist ‘could not remember’ how much he had drunk the night before work shift

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A radiologist sacked after drinking the night before going to work at Peterborough City Hospital will be allowed to continue working in the medical profession.

Dr Mathias Gruber was fired for misconduct by the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust after admitting he could not remember how much alcohol he had drunk the night before going to work on September 6, 2018.

This was the second alcohol-related misdemeanour by Dr Gruber after he had subject to an investigation earlier in 2018 where he had agreed to measures including random breath tests.

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However, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has given him a reprieve after deciding not to strike him off despite acknowledging his behaviour constituted “misconduct”.

Peterborough City HospitalPeterborough City Hospital
Peterborough City Hospital

The tribunal said it could not find evidence that the quality of Dr Gruber’s work the day after his drinking session had been impaired, with a CT scan he carried out in the morning said to be accurate.

Moreover, two breath tests showed Dr Gruber was under the legal drink-drive limit.

Dr Gruber had worked for the trust - which runs Peterborough City, Stamford and Rutland and Hinchingbrooke hospitals - as a consultant radiologist since 2009.

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He was dismissed on March 12, 2019 following an investigation by the trust which then referred his case to the General Medical Council three days later.

Kanchan Rege, trust chief medical officer and deputy chief executive officer for, said: “We would like to reassure our patients that their safety is at the forefront of everything we do at all times. This includes ensuring that our staff are able to provide the highest levels of service.

“Dr Gruber was dismissed in 2019 and now his case has been heard at a Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal.

“His fitness to practise was found to be impaired and conditions have been imposed on his registration for a period of 36 months.

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“Dr Gruber will not be returning to North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.”

On September 6, 2018, Dr Gruber recorded an alcohol level of 22 mcg/100ml of breath at 2.45pm while at work, followed by a reading of 15 mcg/100ml at 3.23pm.

The legal drink-drive limit is 35 mcg/100ml of breath.

Dr Gruber is said to have told the trust’s medical director that “he had been out drinking with a friend until midnight the previous day and could not remember how much alcohol he had consumed”.

Dr Gruber did not respond to the allegations made against him as part of the hearing, but according to a witness statement handed over to the tribunal he is said to have told the trust previously: “I was asked what I had been drinking prior to the breath test.

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“I had been out to dinner with a friend the night before during which we shared a bottle of wine. We then went on to a pub and I do not recall how much I drank there.”

The GMC told the tribunal that: “Dr Gruber’s view that he was fit for work on the morning of September 6, 2018, despite consuming an unknown quantity of alcohol the night before, and his view that he did not present a potential risk to patients that morning, illustrated reckless behaviour, a lack of insight and called into question his judgement.”

However, the tribunal noted that no guidance had been given to Dr Gruber as to the level of alcohol intake expected of him and that his quality of work appeared not to have been affected by his drinking on September 5, 2018.

It added that the trust had not appeared to follow the correct process by following up the breath test with a urine sample.

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In its summary, the tribunal said Dr Gruber’s behaviour “could be considered irresponsible by fellow professionals” and “represented misconduct”.

However, it ruled that it fell below the threshold of “serious misconduct” and that he can be allowed to continue practising.

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