Top Yorkshire doctor escapes six month driving ban EXCLUSIVE

A surgeon escaped a six-month driving ban for a string of motoring offences - after a court heard her hospital trust faced paying thousands of pounds to cover her job.

Dr Catherine Parchment-Smith, of Roundhay, Leeds, totted up 12 points on her driving licence for offences including speeding and using her mobile phone while behind the wheel.

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But yesterday magistrates at Pontefract imposed a seven-day, instead of a six-month, driving ban after hearing 44-year-old Dr Parchment-Smith - a consultant surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield - could not to get to work for regular on-call shifts to perform operations if she was handed a lengthy ban.

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The mother-of-three said the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - which

runs hospitals in Pontefract, Wakefield and Dewsbury - faced 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.

Giving evidence, Dr Parchment-Smith, a specialist in gastro-intestinal surgery for bowel cancer patients, told magistrates: "I've got a ten-year-old Ford Focus, I'm not a boy racer."

Prosecutor, Karen Mann said police spotted Dr Parchment-Smith driving across a hatched area near junction 4 of the M621 at Holbeck just before 5.30pm last July 8.

The doctor 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.

She pleaded guilty to 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.

Dr Parchment-Smith, whose husband is a radiologist at St James'

Hospital, Leeds, told the court: "The trust would have to find locum cover for my on-call during the time I was banned.

"It would be extremely expensive and internal cover would be difficult

to arrange."

The court heard at the start of one on-call weekend she operated for 24 hours from 5pm on a Friday until 5pm the following day.

Dr Parchment-Smith said: "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."

The doctor told magistrates she will next be on-call on January 21.

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 handed a seven-day driving ban and 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 tax payers 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."

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