A failed trainee anaesthetist repeatedly stole pain killers from his hospital - and even carried on doing so after leaving by using his old security pass.

The hospital which allowed Dr Paul Wilkinson to retain the pass enabling him to steal thousands of codeine tablets from the premises to feed his addiction has now come under fire from a judge.

The 30-year-old, who had become addicted to the drug because of severe spinal pain, pretended he was still employed there by donning hospital scrubs and wandered around operating theatres, wards and treatment rooms helping himself to the tablets.

Wilkinson, of Breakmoor Avenue, Silsden, was eventually caught out after being seen by a nurse, who had spotted him previously and was aware he should not have been there. She alerted colleagues and they restrained him when he tried to leave.

Wilkinson, who moved in with his parents in West Yorkshire after his contract as a trainee anaesthetist was not renewed in August last year, then regularly travelled over to Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, and used the pass on 75 occasions.

Jailing him for eight months, Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, described it as “an appalling breach of trust.”

He told Wilkinson that an immediate custodial sentence was necessary to restore public confidence in the medical profession, adding: “You were impersonating a doctor employed by the hospital and taking drugs intended for patients.”

He expressed great concern that the doctor had been allowed to retain his security pass after he left his employment.

“I hope that the authorities have put in place steps to ensure that that can never happen again,” he said.

Wilkinson had pleaded guilty to burglary, attempted burglary and one of theft on the basis he stole 896 codeine tablets in the four months before his employment ended.

Jayne Morris, prosecuting, said that Wilkinson had worked in the anaesthetic department for two years but his contract was not renewed in August last year when he had not made sufficient progress in competency.

But between August 4, 2016 and April 13 this year he swiped the security pass at hospital doors 437 times.

After he was apprehended he told staff that “he entered the hospital to steal pain medication because of a problem with his back and was addicted to pain killers”.

He told police how he had been prescribed the drug around 2012/13 for his back problem and while his doctor was trying to reduce the amount prescribed he needed more as they began to loose effectiveness. He was being officially given 100 a month but he was taking 300.

Osman Munir, defending, said that Wilkinson suffers from depression and is remorseful for his behaviour.

He has been allowed by the GMC to continue practising as a doctor but with stringent conditions and they will re-consider his case after the court hearing and he is likely to lose his career.

“He had an outstanding academic background and he’s achieved a lot in his field of medicine.”

A spokesman for Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it would not discuss “security issues” but added, “We have made several changes as part of the lessons learned from this incident.”