Doctor arrested for drink driving is declared fit to carry on treating patients

A Cambridge-educated junior doctor who was caught drink driving twice has been declared fit to practise medicine after a disciplinary panel ruled she posed no risk to patients.

Dr Lauren Fowler, 27, drank white wine with friends over lunch then crashed her Ford Ka in an area busy with pedestrians. The medic was so drunk she was barely able to speak when police arrived at the scene and officers found an empty bottle of wine in the footwell of her car.

Fowler was bailed but stopped again less than two months later after she consumed half a bottle of vodka then drove around a hotel car park near her family’s home in Styal, Cheshire. Tests showed she was more than three times the drink drive limit.  

In 2018, Fowler admitted drink driving and failing to provide a breath specimen but got a suspended prison sentence after claiming she had an addiction to alcohol due to the ‘stress’ of studying medicine at Imperial College London. 

The medic then faced a misconduct hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, where she was told she could only continue working in medicine under supervision. 

Pictured: Lauren Fowler

 Dr Lauren Fowler, 27, drank white wine with friends over lunch then crashed her Ford Ka in an area busy with pedestrians in October 2017

It emerged today a Fitness to Practise panel has now lifted these restrictions and allowed Fowler to return to work unsupervised following a hearing held in private. The General Medical Council did not challenge the move. 

In a redacted document issued after the hearing, panel chairman Anya Lewis said: ‘Dr Fowler has remained in practice during very difficult and turbulent times both personally and professionally, during which she had maintained and improved her clinical skills. 

‘The Tribunal accepted that Dr Fowler recognises the gravity of her misconduct, has developed further insight, has taken the necessary steps to remedy her misconduct. 

‘It is also satisfied that patients would not be placed at risk if Dr Fowler was to return to unrestricted clinical practice.

‘The Tribunal is therefore satisfied that she is safe to return to unrestricted practice, and that it is in the public interest for her to do so.’ 

Miss Lewis added there has been ‘no repetition or suggestion of any repetition of such conduct’ since Fowler’s conviction.   

‘The tribunal is satisfied that Dr Fowler has developed further insight and sufficiently remediated so that there is no risk of repetition,’ she added.

‘There is no requirement to issue a further sanction.’     

The medic previously claimed she drank heavily during her studies at Imperial College, adding she did not know who to turn to for help. She has since given up drinking and is serving a three year driving ban.     

Fowler had pursued her career in medicine after she excelled at Stockport Grammar school, where she was a senior prefect and attained two A* grades and an A at A Level.

She was also shortlisted for a UK Scientist of the Year award for a research project she carried out at Manchester University in 2011.

It is thought Fowler attended Clare College at Cambridge before enrolling in 2014 at Imperial College, which was founded by Prince Albert in 1845 and ranks 8th in the Times Higher Education World University.

Fowler (pictured outside court in 2018) was bailed but stopped again less than two months later in Styal, Cheshire

Fowler (pictured outside court in 2018) was bailed but stopped again less than two months later in Styal, Cheshire 

But within days of her graduation ceremony in October 2017, Fowler went out for lunch in Manchester during which she shared a bottle of wine with friends – and then drank more wine whilst at the wheel of her car.          

During her court appearance, Joseph O’Connor said: ‘Police attended a minor road traffic collision and met the defendant who was clearly intoxicated. She was swearing and slurring her words and they could smell intoxicants on her breath.

‘When they tried to speak to her they had trouble understanding what she was saying, she was incoherent and the officers assumed she was drunk.

‘As she was arrested she admitted that she had drunk two bottles of wine and was taken to the police station. She was described as acting very emotionally and she failed to provide a specimen of breath because she was so upset.’

She was bailed to face court but was held again less than two months later after being caught drink driving at the Stanneylands boutique hotel in Wilmslow.

Mr O’Connor added: ‘She collided with another car whilst trying to leave the car park of the Stanneylands Hotel. 

‘When the police arrived they tried to speak to her, but the noticed a smell of intoxicants on her breath and she was slurring her words.

‘She was taken to the police station and gave two samples of breath. In interview she made admissions and told then she had drunk half a bottle of vodka before deciding to go to the gym. She accepts she shouldn’t have driven.

‘The second offence was committed whilst she was on bail, which is an aggravating factor. She was inebriated during the accident.’

Tests showed Fowler had 112 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.           

The medic had to abide by the restrictions on her job for 20 months but they were lifted with immediate effect.

Her lawyer Miles Bennett said: ‘Nothing will minimise the seriousness of Dr Fowler’s conduct but that the concerns of the 2018 Tribunal has been fully addressed by Dr Fowler. 

‘She has risen to the challenge and had exceeded it and evidence presented today by the GMC was positive and that none of it was conflicting in nature. Her fitness to practise medicine is no longer impaired by her convictions.’

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