Doctor 'caused girlfriend's skin cancer by giving her sleeping pills so she fell asleep in the sun'

Dr David Hildick-Smith leaving his MPTS tribunal in Manchester - Cavendish Press/Ricky Champagne

An NHS cardiologist allegedly caused his girlfriend's skin cancer by giving her so many sleeping pills she fell asleep in the sun, a GMC tribunal heard.

The mother of one claimed that heart surgeon David Hildick-Smith gave her so many extra sedatives on top of those prescribed to her by her GP that she became addicted to them.

The woman - also a senior doctor - claimed the tablets, which she took when she was jet lagged after long haul business flights from her home in Surrey to San Diego, caused her to fall asleep in the hot California sun for many hours. She said she would wake up with severe blisters and burning to her skin.

Cambridge-educated Hildick-Smith, 55, who works at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton had prescribed Diazepam, Zolpidem and Zopiclon to the woman even though she was not his patient, it was alleged.

On one occasion the Professor of Interventional Cardiology at the Sussex Cardiac Centre allegedly prescribed a course of 84 diazapam tablets in one go even though Ms A was being given anti-depressants by her GP.

He was charged with misconduct by the General Medical Council after she made a complaint about him in 2017 saying that her only aim was “to seek justice”.

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester the unnamed woman known only as Ms A said: "When I went to see a dermatologist he said to me that I had obviously had extensive burns to my back when I had been sedated for a number of years.

"I had taken a large dose, therefore I had fallen asleep in the sun for many hours. I had blisters and burning and it was the possible that was the cause of melanoma - that's what the doctor told me.

I would not have it now if this hadn't happened. She added that it had been an “awful ten years of my life”.

She confirmed that she wasn't Dr Hildick-Smith’s patient but his “partner” and said that he prescribed the drugs “using private prescriptions and hospital prescription pads".

The Manchester hearing was told the pair met in 2009 whilst they were conducting medical trials at the hospital. They began a relationship when they went to a conference in San Francisco attended by a number of cardiologists.

She had previously been in a seven year relationship with a long haul airline pilot with whom she had a child.

Ms A said their relationship broke down from July 2010. Ms A was prescribed Zolpidem by her GP at at the beginning of 2004 and confirmed that her GP prescribed it as and when she requested it, as she struggled with the long haul travel and sleeping.

She said that Dr Hildick Smith was aware of this. In 2010 Dr Hildick Smith started to prescribe them to her too.

Under cross examination Dr Hildick-Smith's lawyer Steven Brassington said Ms A had been taking Zolpidem since 2002 after buying it over the counter in the US.

Hildick-Smith, from Lewes, denies dishonesty and misconduct. The hearing continues.