A DOCTOR who stole high-strength painkillers from a hospital’s children’s ward has been given a warning.

Hannah Roberts, a senior registrar at Colchester Hospital, swiped the prescription-only dihydrocodeine from areas only accessible to medical staff on the neo-natal and paediatric wards.

Suspicions were raised when she arrived at work and was acting so erratically she was sent home.

Colleagues believed her actions were consistent with side effects of codeine use.

Roberts, 41, was arrested and the drug packaging was found in her car.

Appearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court last January, she admitted theft of £105.66 worth of the drugs from an employee during a 15-day period in June 2019.

Frank O’Toole, mitigating, said Roberts “had taken a dreadful risk”.

“She worked in a busy ward with a busy workload and didn’t take any time off,” he said.

“She was totally dedicated to her profession. The only thing she neglected was herself.

“She is an extraordinarily bright, intelligent, caring woman.

“The issue appears to have started following a severe toothache.

“She bought over-the-counter painkillers which did not seem to do the trick.

“She should have gone to her GP for a prescription, but didn’t want to distract from her own work.

“As a result, unfortunately, she drifted into a situation where she took medication from the cupboard.”

Roberts was given a 12-month community order and told to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay an £85 victim surcharge and £145 costs.

Following a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing, Roberts received a warning.

Detailing the warning, the General Medical Council said: “This conduct does not meet with the standards required of a doctor.

“It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and it must not be repeated.”