Doctor who gave wife heroin banned for 9 months

A SCOTTISH doctor who watched his wife collapse after injecting her with heroin has been suspended for just nine months when a tribunal found he was unlikely to offend again.

Dr Ashley Sibery gave wife Sital the drug so she could experience what it was like after she confronted him about his erratic behaviour.

But after she collapsed needing emergency treatment, Sibery was convicted of culpable and reckless conduct and also of a separate charge concerning drink driving.

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Despite his convictions, a hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) decided to suspend his medical registration for nine months, meaning he could return to practice in future.

Last night, patients’ campaigners and politicians said the suspension was not long enough given the seriousness of the charges he faced.

Sibery and his wife had both been drinking when he confessed he had been using heroin for the previous two months and his partner threatened to end the marriage if he did not quit his habit.

Despite her ultimatum, the Edinburgh GP was able to persuade her to take what was supposed to be his final hit on the evening of 1 April, 2012.

Moments later, the woman collapsed and started to experience breathing difficulties at their home in London Street.

The medic called an ambulance and his wife was taken to hospital where she made a full recovery.

Sibery was convicted of culpable and reckless conduct in September 2012 after admitting his role in the potentially deadly incident to Lothian and Borders Police. But he was spared jail after Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard he had beaten his addiction and his wife and colleagues were sticking by him.

The family doctor was ordered to perform 300 hours community service and placed on supervision by the authorities for two years after a hearing in December 2012.

Just two days after he was charged with the offence, on 9 June, 2012, Sibery downed half a bottle of vodka then drove to Leith to buy heroin.

He was breathalysed by police after he was seen swerving across the road and arrested for drink driving, and on 19 July, 2012 he was fined £300 and banned from the roads for 12 months.

Sibery faced the MPTS panel in Manchester this week where the General Medical Council had called for him to be struck off.

Catherine Cundy, for the GMC, argued his actions, “including continuing to treat patients whilst taking heroin” were “fundamentally incompatible with continued registration”.

But Michael Uberoi, defending, said that erasure from the medical register would be “disproportionate to the facts of the case”.

The hearing was held behind closed doors because of matters relating to the doctor’s “health”, but the panel’s findings were later made public.

The tribunal ruled his fitness to practise was impaired by his convictions and suspended him for nine months.

Sibery will have to attend a review hearing before he is allowed back to unrestricted work.

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said she believed the nine-month suspension was too short.

“He should know that if he takes heroin and is attending to any patients, it could cost that patient their life.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “Having heroin-addicted doctors in our NHS is beyond ludicrous. People will find it hard to believe this individual has only been put in the sin bin for nine months.”