A DOCTOR with a drink problem has been banned from practicing for six months after turning up for his first day of work at a care centre in Wycombe "smelling like a brewery".

Dr Peter Riley, pictured below, was said to have been "unsteady on his feet" by staff at the Harmoni centre and was immediately sent home, the General Medical Council (GMC) heard.

When confronted by colleagues Riley claimed to have not touched a drop since a heavy drinking session the night before but was said to have smelt strongly of drink.

The doctor, of Thorndike, Slough, was offered the job of GP at the centre after an interview in 2004, but did not take the job on until January 2005 because he was dealing with "personal issues".

These turned out to be two convictions of drink driving, one of which for when he was caught driving on the M4 in Buckinghamshire twice over the legal limit in November 2004.

He was earlier caught by police in September driving a Volkswagon extremely slowly in Poole, Dorset and after being pulled over was found to be three times over the limit. The 61-year-old managed to escape jail on these occasions but was fined a total of £1,600 by magistrates in Wycombe and Dorset.

At the conclusion of the hearing the GMC decided Riley's behaviour was serious enough to stop him from working.

GMC chairman, Rowland Doven, said: "All three of these incidents individually carried the potential to harm the public. The panel is in no doubt that Dr Riley's behaviour has damaged the reputation of the profession.

"He will be unable to practise medicine while suspended. This suspension will protect patients; will demonstrate the panel's disapproval of his behaviour and will send an appropriate message to the profession and to the public.""

Riley has admitted to having a drink problem, but did not attend the hearing last Friday at the Old Bailey as he is thought to be living in Goa.

l The Harmoni centre is an out of hours surgery that residents in Bucking-hamshire can use in an emergency. They are based in Amersham during the daytime and evening and in High Wycombe overnight.