Chris J Crompton

Profession: Operating department practitioner

Registration Number: ODP12351

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 22/12/2015 End: 17:00 22/12/2015

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BU

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

 

On 30 October 2014 at Crown Court at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court you were convicted of:

 

1. 2 counts of SX03007 Sexual assault on a female – no penetration.

 

2. By reason of your convictions as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as an Operating Department Practitioner is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1.  The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was sent Notice of today’s hearing by letter, which was sent by first class post on 15 October 2015 to the Registrant’s registered address. The Panel has seen a copy of the Notice letter which contains all relevant information, and a certificate duly certifying the fact of postage. In addition, the Panel has evidence that this Notice was sent by email to the Registrant. The Panel was further satisfied that a copy of the same Notice had been sent by letter to the Registrant’s prison address on 20 October 2015. Further, the Registrant has submitted a letter of 19 November 2015 to the HCPC indicating that he is aware of today’s hearing. Accordingly, proper Notice of this hearing has been given in accordance with the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (the Rules).

Proceeding in absence

2.  Mr Dilaimi submitted, on behalf of the HCPC, that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He drew the Panel’s attention to a letter from the Registrant, received by the HCPC on 22 May 2015, in which the Registrant stated that he is currently serving a two year prison sentence and that “I have to regrettably withdraw and stop my registration with the HCPC as I will never be able to find a career within the health service”. Mr Dilaimi submitted that this indicated a waiver of the Registrant’s right to attend the hearing, as he had been given an opportunity through the Notice of Hearing to consider his future attendance and the fact of representation and had not requested an adjournment or postponement of today’s hearing. He submitted that an adjournment would not result in the Registrant’s future attendance. Mr Dilaimi invited the Panel to consider the extent of any disadvantage to the Registrant if the matter were to proceed today in the Registrant’s absence.

3.  The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4.  The Panel carefully considered all of the documentation before it, including the two items of correspondence from the Registrant. It notes that the Registrant has not asked for an adjournment or postponement of today’s hearing. The Panel considers that there are some ambiguities within the Registrant’s correspondence over whether he would wish to attend if he were not currently imprisoned. The Panel notes that he is likely to be released on licence in the near future, which may enable him to attend a future hearing in person. The Panel is of the view that, if the Registrant were minded to attend in future or to seek time to gain representation for any future hearing, these ambiguities would not be present. The Registrant has engaged with the HCPC throughout these proceedings. Further, the Notice of Hearing makes clear the Registrant’s rights and that he is empowered to make a request for a postponement or submit representations should he wish to do so.

5.  Given the serious nature of the allegation against the Registrant and the fact that he has not asked for an adjournment or postponement of today’s hearing, nor has he submitted any representations, the Panel considers that the public interest in hearing this case expeditiously outweighs any ambiguity as to the Registrant’s wish to attend the hearing today. Therefore, the Panel is content to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

6.  On 21 June 2014 the Registrant, whilst employed as an Operating Department Practitioner at Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Trust, had improper contact with a student nurse for whom he had training responsibility whilst she was on a placement. She made a formal complaint to the Police and to her employers. The Registrant was suspended from duty on 22 June 2014 and was arrested that same day. A previous incident on 14 June 2014 involving improper contact with a different student nurse subsequently came to light. He was charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to two separate charges of sexual assault on a female
– no penetration.
 
7. On 30 October 2014, the Registrant was convicted of two separate charges of
sexual assault on a female – no penetration – at Manchester Crown Court.

8.  On 16 January 2015, the Registrant was sentenced to a total of two years’
imprisonment and was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years.

Decision on Facts and Grounds

9. The Panel had evidence of the above conviction by way of a certificate of conviction from the Crown Court. The certificate of conviction was accepted by the Panel as conclusive evidence of the facts and ground of the conviction.

Decision on Impairment

10. The Panel heard submissions from Mr Dilaimi that by reason of these convictions the Panel should find that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. He reminded the Panel that the Registrant had pleaded guilty and had been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and placed upon the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years. He referred the Panel to the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Conviction and Caution Allegations”, with particular reference to the paragraph entitled “Sex Offender Notification”. He also referred to the case of CHRP v GDC and Fleischman [2005] EHWC 87 Admin, which indicates that where a registrant has been convicted of a serious criminal offence and is still serving that sentence at the time the matter comes before a Panel, it should not normally permit that registrant to resume their practice until the sentence has been satisfactorily completed.

11. Mr Dilaimi reminded the Panel that the Registrant had assaulted two trainees, having taken advantage of his professional registration for the purposes of sexual gratification. He submitted that the Registrant’s actions had an impact on his victims, that the circumstances were very grave and serious, and that they went to the heart of the Registrant’s role as an Operating Department Practitioner. He further submitted that the Registrant not only posed a risk to service users but, if the Panel were not to find impairment, it would undermine public confidence in the profession of Operating Department Practitioner and in the HCPC as the Registrant’s regulator.

12. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

13. In coming to its decision on impairment, the Panel has taken account of the submissions of Mr Dilaimi on behalf of the HCPC and the advice given by the Legal
Assessor and the bundle of documents before it. The Panel recognises that there  is  no  burden  or  standard  of  proof  and  it  has  applied  its  own  independent judgement.

14. The Panel took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Conviction and Caution Allegations”, which states that “Panels should regard it as incompatible with HCPC’s obligation to protect the public to allow a registrant to remain in or return to unrestricted practice” whilst on the Sex Offenders’ Register. The Panel also took into account the comments of Dame Janet Smith in the Fifth Shipman Inquiry that the role of a regulator in protecting service users involves different considerations to those taken into account by the criminal courts. It also took into account the relevant paragraphs in the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin), which the Legal Assessor referred to in his advice.

15. The Panel considered the nature, gravity and circumstances of the facts which resulted in the Registrant’s conviction.

16. The Panel finds that the Registrant took advantage of his status as a registered professional and abused his position of trust, and that this breached fundamental tenets of the profession of Operating Department Practitioner. The Panel noted that there were two separate victims, both junior female colleagues who he was training, and one of whom was on her first day of placement. The Panel noted the Judge’s sentencing remarks, in which he stated “there was a degree of planning in what you did…it’s striking that the same patter, the same words and phrases were used in both incidents”. The Panel considers that this indicates a level of pre-meditation in the Registrant’s actions and that there is therefore a real risk of repetition. The Panel also notes that the Registrant has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for a period of ten years.

17. The Panel noted that the Registrant admitted the charges and entered a guilty plea at the Crown Court and has expressed remorse for his conduct.

18. The Panel has no information in respect of remediation. It is satisfied that the nature of the Registrant’s conviction is so serious that even if it were to be remediable, the public interest is sufficiently significant for a finding of impairment to be made. Both the Registrant’s victims submitted victim impact statements, one to the effect that the Registrant’s actions would “affect her for years to come”. The Registrant abused his position of trust on two occasions and the Panel cannot be satisfied that there is no real risk of repetition.

19. The  personal  component  in  this  case  is  heavily  outweighed  by  the  public component, namely that public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as a regulator would be seriously undermined if a finding of current impairment were not made.

Decision on Sanction

20. The Panel took into account Mr Dilaimi’s submissions on behalf of the HCPC with regard to sanction. He reminded the Panel that it should take account of the HCPC’s “Indicative Sanctions Policy”, with particular regard to the protection of service users and public safety. He reminded the Panel that there was a strong public interest element in the application of a sanction. He advised the Panel that it should take into account such insight as the Registrant may have into his failings and the real risk of repetition which the Panel has identified in its decision as to impairment.

21. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose, the Panel has had regard to the HCPC’s “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and to the advice of the Legal Assessor. In coming to its decision, the Panel took into account the public interest, in particular the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

22. The Panel notes that the purpose of these proceedings is not to be punitive, but is to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not currently fit to practise.

23. The Panel took into account all of the mitigating and aggravating factors identified by Mr Dilaimi in his submissions. With regard to aggravating factors, this is a case which involves a deliberate and repeated departure from acceptable standards of conduct and behaviour for Operating Department Practitioners. The Registrant has two separate convictions for sexual assault on two female colleagues, the second within one week of the first. The offences took place at the Registrant’s place of work, in the context of training being provided by the Registrant to his victims. The convictions constituted an abuse of his position of trust as a registered professional. The Panel further noted that these colleagues were students and were therefore in a very junior position to the Registrant. As a result of the convictions, the Registrant is currently serving a two-year prison sentence. His name has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for a period of ten years.

24. In mitigation, the Panel has taken into account that the Registrant had no previous convictions and was of previous exemplary character. He has stated his remorse and entered guilty pleas to the charges (although he had initially denied them). Some years prior to the incidents, the Registrant had suffered a significant bereavement. At his sentencing, the Registrant’s Defence Counsel stated that he was on the waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to address the conduct which led to the convictions, although the Panel has no evidence before it as to whether the CBT was ever pursued.

25. The  Panel  considered  that,  given  the  serious  nature  of  the  Registrant’s  convictions, it would be inappropriate to take no further action, as this would not restrict his ability to practise or protect the public once he is released from prison. Mediation is only appropriate if no further action is to be taken.

26. The Panel went on to consider a Caution Order. A Caution Order would not restrict the Registrant’s ability to practise. The Registrant’s convictions are not minor in nature, and there is no evidence that remedial action has been taken. The Panel has previously identified that there is a real risk of repetition. The HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” indicates that those registrants placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register should not remain in unrestricted practice; as such, a Caution Order would undermine public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as a regulator. In all the circumstances, a Caution Order would not be sufficient.

27. The Panel then considered whether the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order would be sufficient. The Panel considered that this is a conviction case involving two counts of sexual assault and serious breaches of trust, and therefore it could not formulate appropriate, practicable or workable conditions. Further, the Panel concluded that conditions would not address the serious nature of the offences, the public interest, or maintain public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as a regulator. Therefore, the Panel did not consider that a Conditions of Practice Order was an appropriate, proportionate or workable sanction.

28. The Panel then went on to consider the imposition of a Suspension Order. Such an order would prevent the Registrant from practising as an Operating Department Practitioner for a set period of time; however, members of the public expect professionals to keep high standards of personal conduct, of which the Registrant’s convictions fall far short.

29. The Registrant’s victims were two female students, whom the Registrant was responsible for training. According to the Judge’s sentencing remarks, the Registrant “exploited that situation for [his] sexual gratification.” In respect of the first assault, the Registrant “touched her breasts over her bra…[he] wanted it to go further because [he] told her that she didn’t need to wear a bra on the next day…[he] said “What goes on in this room stays in the room””.

30. The Registrant then escalated his behaviour with his second victim. He “took her to a part of the hospital that was unused at week-ends [sic]…removed her breasts from her bra, touched both of them, commented on her nipples, pulled down her knickers and cupped her vagina…exposed [his] penis and caused her to touch it more than once…began to form an erection.” The Judge commented that this “was a sustained sexual assault involving the touching of separate intimate parts of her body and in addition having her touch [him]. Again [he] said the same words, “What goes on in this room stays in this room””.

31. These were separate, serious and pre-meditated abuses of trust, in which the
Registrant continually escalated his assault. The Registrant has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for a period of ten years.

32. The Panel considered very carefully the impact of a Suspension Order on public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC, and concluded that the nature, gravity and circumstances of the Registrant’s actions are such that a Suspension Order would be insufficient to address the public interest. The Panel is mindful that a Striking Off Order is a sanction of last resort and should be used where there is no other way to protect the public. The Panel considered paragraphs 40 and 42 of the HCPC’s “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and concluded that, due to the nature and gravity of the Registrant’s convictions, his actions render him fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the register. In the Panel’s judgment, the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s convictions are such that any lesser sanction would lack a deterrent effect and would not address the public interest or maintain public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as a regulator. In all the circumstances, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking Off Order.

 

Order

Order
That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Chris J Crompton from the Register on the date this order comes into effect. 

 

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 19 January 2016.  

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Chris J Crompton

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
22/12/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
07/12/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Adjourned