Saturday 19 October 2019

Doctor's career on the line over booze-fuelled meltdowns

Dr Roisin Hamilton
Dr Roisin Hamilton

Amy Walker

A Northern Ireland-born doctor who had a series of public and alcohol-fuelled meltdowns is facing a battle to save her career in medicine.

Haematology expert Dr Roisin Hamilton (38) was charged with misconduct after she was repeatedly arrested for attacks upon police, airport officials and even her husband over a three-year period.

In one incident a Duty Free airport worker had hot coffee thrown over him by Hamilton, a mother of two, after she got intoxicated on vodka when her plane was delayed.

In a second instance police had to be called to the doctor's family home in Scotland when her estranged husband was forced to shut himself inside the property due to her intoxicated and violent behaviour.

And in a third incident, a policeman was bitten by Hamilton after hospital colleagues stopped her driving away from a hospital whilst drunk.

The latest outburst occurred when police arrested Hamilton for being drunk and abusive during a store opening at a shopping centre in Northern Ireland.

As they detained her, Hamilton dug her finger nails into one officer's arm and shouted: "F*** you!" before repeatedly punching a woman police constable.

The doctor struggled so violently she had to be put in handcuffs and leg restraints before being placed in a cell to sober up.

Yesterday at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, in Manchester, Hamilton, now of Bearsden, East Dumbartonshire, who blamed her behaviour on alcohol addiction, faced being struck off over her conduct.

She has already been suspended from medical practice since last October over the first three incidents plus a drink-driving offence in which she crashed while almost five times the limit.

The incidents began in June 2015 after Hamilton, who worked at Aberdeen and Glasgow hospitals, completed a masters degree in haematology.

In the first incident staff at a hospital had seen her approaching her car whilst drunk and persuaded her to hand over the keys. But Hamilton became aggressive when police arrived and she bit an officer's finger.

At the time Hamilton was fined £980 and banned from driving for a year after she admitted failing to provide a breath specimen and assault on police.

She was arrested again the next year after stumbling in the Duty Free area at Glasgow Airport whilst waiting for a flight to Northern Ireland where she was booked into a treatment and rehabilitation centre.

Airport staff went to offer her assistance but she vomited on the floor and became aggressive - throwing scalding coffee onto the foot of an airport employee. A privacy screen was erected to shield her from other passengers but she continued to shout and swear at staff.

She was later charged but arrested again following a subsequent bust-up with her then-husband who called police when she tried to get back into their home after she was thrown out for being drunk.

During the row, Hamilton repeatedly struck, kicked and scratched him on the head and body and threw a desk organiser at the property.

In January 2017 Hamilton was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £200 compensation for threatening behaviour and assault.

The next August she was arrested again for drink driving in Jubilee Park, Armagh after she crashed her car into a fence and wheelie bin, while pedestrians were in the vicinity. Tests showed she had 161 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35mg.

In September 2017 Hamilton pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol, was fined £300 and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

The latest incident took place at 3pm on February 3, 2018 when Hamilton was seen in a drunken condition at The Quays Shopping Centre in Newry. Susanna Kitzing, lawyer for the General Medical Council, said: "A report was made to the police regarding an intoxicated female who was causing a disturbance and when officers attended they found Dr Hamilton being held by the security personnel at the centre, she was sitting down in a slumped position, was unresponsive and an ambulance was requested.

"But on the arrival of the paramedics, the doctor was swearing and shouting and lashing out with her arms. The officers tried to remove Dr Hamilton from the shopping centre but it was said she was aggressive and swearing at them.

"One of the officers described there being elderly people and children present whilst this occurred.

"Dr Hamilton was escorted to the back of the police vehicle whilst the other officer returned to the centre to retrieve her belongings.

"During this, the doctor tried to pull herself out of the police vehicle and was arrested for disorderly behaviour. She was described as acting in an erratic manner, her pupils were dilated and officers believed she was under the influence of a substance.

"Another officer attended at 4pm and conducted a search of Dr Hamilton after she had been arrested. Whilst the search was being carried out, Dr Hamilton grabbed the upper left arm of the officer and began digging her nails in it causing pain and bruising."

Dr Hamilton was put into the back of the police vehicle which was taking her to the police station and an officer was sat next to Dr Hamilton in the back.

Ms Kitzing added: "Dr Hamilton lashed out at the officer sat next to her, punching her with a closed right fist several times to her right arm. The officer driving the vehicle stopped the car and told her to calm down.

"The officer said Dr Hamilton became increasingly aggressive and hence they were forced to remove her from the vehicle and restrain her on the ground. As they were removing her from the car, Dr Hamilton kicked out at the legs of the officers several times."

In March 2018 Hamilton, who has voluntarily not worked since 2015 and is now divorced, admitted disorderly behaviour and assault on police and was bound over to keep the peace.

She had previously blamed her outbursts on a long standing alcohol addiction which developed after she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

In a statement she said she was "mortified and ashamed" of her actions and said the offences "did not represent her as a person".

The majority of her MPTS hearing is expected to be held in private.

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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