A DOCTOR who resigned from a top hospital after being caught sniffing anaesthetic in an operating theatre is to return to his post at Leighton Hospital.
Dr Richard Pearson, 34, will step back into his job in the Crewe hospital's casualty department after being sent for three month's 'supervised training' at the Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral after an investigation into a separate issue at Leighton.
In June 1997 Dr Pearson, a Crewe man, resigned from the Royal Liverpool Hospital after a consultant found him sniffing anaesthetic agents in theatre while on duty.
He was reported to the General Medical Council and counselled for his problem while working in areas, like casualty, where he could not come into contact with anaesthetics.
Doctors at the Royal alerted Leighton when he took up his post there later that year.
Bosses at Leighton Hospital have declined to comment on why he needed a period of 'supervised training' at Arrowe Park. They say it is connected to a separate issue.
A spokeswoman for the Wirral Hospital Trust confirmed it was approached by Leighton to supervise the doctor and he had been 'closely monitored.'
She said: 'He has shown himself to be a thoroughly competent physician in the A & E department. He will shortly be returning to work at Leighton Hospital.'
Leighton Hospital chief executive Simon Yates said: 'Dr Pearson, a qualified practitioner with this trust, has been undergoing a period of supervised training at Arrowe Park Hospital. This secondment was agreed with them following an investigation into an issue here at Leighton Hospital.
'Throughout his period of supervised training, Dr Pearson was closely monitored and proved himself to be a thoroughly competent physician and he will be returning shortly to work here.
'It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage on what is an internal matter.'
Hugh Lamont, spokesman for the NHS Regional Executive, said: 'Dr Pearson developed a problem with anaesthetics, which can be addictive, four years ago and he was given full support to help him get over it.
'While there has been no suggestion of any similar problem since then, he continues to work under voluntary restrictions in areas where he does not come into contact with anaesthetic.'