Hospital boss who earns £165,000 has driving ban lifted as it’s put strain on the NHS

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A judge has lifted a driving ban on an NHS boss because it would be “grossly unfair” to the health service for him to be off the road during the pandemic.

Donald Richards, 56, faced a driving ban after he accumulated the maximum number of points on his licence in September.

One of the incidents which saw him disqualified from driving by magistrates was driving 56mph while in a 40mph zone on the A40 near Ealing, west London, in October 2019, reports the Daily Star.

But Richards, who earns £165,000 as the chief financial officer for West Hertfordshire  NHS  Hospital Trust, has appealed the ban at Kingston Crown Court.

He claimed that he faced “exceptional hardship” – and a panel of two justices and a crown court judge have ruled that the ban should be lifted.

In the judgement, they said it was because of the potential strain the ban might place on NHS services.

Richards, who lives in Acton, is based at Watford General Hospital, but also travels to St Albans and Hemel Hempstead around three times a week, the court was told.

A team of seven people were on call one night a week, and he said he would be expected to be at one of the hospitals within an hour if there was an emergency.

The car journey takes around 50 minutes, but could take up to twice as long via public transport, the court heard.

Richards said: “I’m a member of the leadership team for the trust.



Watford General Hospital where Richards is based
Watford General Hospital where Richards is based

“My key responsibility is for managing resources throughout the organisation, making sure supplies are procured and general management throughout the three hospitals we look after.

“The chief executive likes all of us to walk the floor and talk to staff, especially at this critical time.

“We’ve had a very difficult time at the moment, it’s become increasingly difficult.

“Especially with Covid – we need to organise different types of patients being isolated in different wards to minimise infection.



The trust is under pressure, the court heard
The trust is under pressure, the court heard

“You need to be able to get to the site in question within an hour. You can be called at any time.”

Prosecutor Charles Drinnan said: “Respectfully, you are on a healthy salary, you could get an Uber or taxi.”

Richards said: “If one was available, there’s an issue of reliability. You have to appreciate the nature of the calls, it’s not just the situation around Covid-19.

“Our infrastructure is poor, we have breakdowns at the estate.

“Every other day we have to make arrangements to divert ambulances or move wards or move patients to a different location. I don’t think [getting a taxi] would be welcome.”

Judge John Lodge said: “This is a classic exceptional hardship case.

“It makes perfect sense to remind the appellant that what we have had placed before us is what can only be described as a cavalier approach to the motoring laws in this country.

“There has been an accumulation of points over the last few years for a variety of offences.

“Having had the case presented and heard the evidence we have, it would be so grossly unfair, not on this appellant who is perhaps the least of our concerns, but on the NHS trust currently struggling at its limits, needing all hands on deck, needing leadership and management.

“To ask them to suddenly at the drop of the hat reorganise the position of their departments at one of their hardest times is asking them to take a step too far.”



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