Mr Richard Senior

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA33086

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:30 21/12/2015 End: 12:30 21/12/2015

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Paramedic with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, between 11 July 2005 and 14 March 2013, you:

 

1. Behaved inappropriately towards Colleague A in that you:

a) Said words to the effect of, "when am I going to be your sperm donor" on one or more occasion;

b) Mentioned having a foursome with Colleague A and her ex-partner on one or more occasion;

c) Said words to the effect of, "it's not such a bad thing he's after you, it might get you back on the fellers", in relation to a patient who had expressed his attraction to Colleague A;

 

2. Behaved inappropriately towards Colleague B in that you:

a) Said words to the effect of, "I don't know how I never banged you when you were younger";

b) Made comments about visualising Colleague B breast feeding after she returned from maternity leave;

c) Said words to the effect of, "just watching **** go by", when Colleague B walked passed;

 

3. Made inappropriate comments in front of patients regarding the number of women you have “had”;

 

4. Displayed an inappropriate photograph on your personal phone home screen which could be viewed by colleagues and patients;

 

5. Did not respond to emergencies appropriately on a number of occasions in that you:

a) Proceeded on emergency call outs without using blue lights and/or sirens;

b) Told colleagues not to use blue lights and/or sirens when responding to emergency call outs;

 

6. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 4 constitute misconduct.

 

7. The matters set out in paragraph 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

8. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters:

Service:
1. The Panel was satisfied that proper notification of this hearing had been given as a notice setting out the date, time and venue of this hearing had been sent to the Registrant’s registered address on 19 November 2015.
Proceeding in absence:

2. The Panel heard a submission by Mr Claughton for the case to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The Registrant was not present or represented but he had submitted written representations for this review in which he made it clear that he was unable to attend. There was further communication from the HCPC on 11 December 2015 in which the offer of participation in the hearing by way of telephone link was made. The Registrant declined the offer. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and has exercised the principle of proportionality at all times. It also took account of the relevant Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant.

3. The Panel carefully exercised the severely constrained discretion in favour of proceeding in the Registrant’s absence as all reasonable steps had been taken to notify him of this hearing. Firstly, he had been properly notified in accordance with the rules. Secondly, he was also given notification by email on the same date. Thirdly, there was additional correspondence about this hearing. The Panel determined that the Registrant was aware of today’s hearing. Furthermore, the Panel noted that the Registrant had expressly stated that he would not be attending, he had declined the offer of a telephone link and his non - attendance was in keeping with this. Therefore there was no suggestion that the Registrant sought an adjournment. In addition, this is a review of a substantive order and time is of the essence to ensure that the sanction does not expire before any further date for this review could be arranged. The Panel has determined that the Registrant has exercised his choice not to attend on a voluntary basis and, for the reasons set out, that it would be fair, proportionate and in the interests of justice to proceed in his absence. It was also in the public and Registrant’s own interest for a decision as to the future of the case to be made expeditiously.

Background:

4. The Panel does not intend to rehearse the full background to this case suffice to say  that  the  Registrant,  a  registered  Paramedic,  was a Band 5 Paramedic employed by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (the Trust). At the time the allegations arose he was based at the Dewsbury Ambulance Station (the Station). The Panel noted that there were a number of inappropriate comments made to different members of staff, and on occasion, comments were made in front of service users. An inappropriate picture was stored on his phone which his colleague saw on two separate occasions. In addition, the Registrant did not respond to emergencies appropriately by using the blue lights and sirens in accordance with Trust policy and this had resulted in delayed responses and delayed service user care.

5. It was determined by the final hearing Panel that the facts were found proved and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired at the time by reason of his misconduct, breaching fundamental Paramedic Standards. During the course of its determination, the Panel determined that it was dealing with multiple allegations, there was limited evidence of insight, insufficient remedial steps had been taken and there was a risk of harm to service users and to the reputation of the profession. It concluded that the conduct was remediable but that there remained a risk of repetition given the limited remorse   and   insight. That   Panel   determined   that   an   appropriate   and proportionate sanction was to impose a Suspension Order of 12 months’ duration and suggested ways in which a future review panel might be assisted. Whilst in no way seeking to bind this Panel, the Final Hearing Panel envisaged that the Registrant would need to provide evidence, in the form   of reflection and by attending a review hearing.


Decision:

6. Mr Claughton submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of his misconduct. He submitted that, as a consequence of the Registrant’s non-attendance, there was insufficient evidence of insight and changes in attitude and approach. He suggested that a proportionate outcome may be a Conditions of Practice Order.

7.  Whilst the Panel has taken account of these submissions, it is not fettered by them and the decision whether the Registrant is impaired is a matter for this Panel exercising its own independent judgment.

8.  In reaching its decision, this Panel has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and exercised the principle of proportionality. It has also had regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.

9.   The Panel was very disappointed that the Registrant has not attended today to give further evidence beyond his written representations. It is clear from the reference submitted, that the Registrant’s current employer is fully aware of this hearing and that the Registrant is passionate about being a Paramedic. In such circumstances time off work for this important hearing may have been facilitated. It is also clear from the previous decision that the Registrant was given guidance about attending this hearing. The Registrant’s written representations go some way to addressing the prevailing concerns but fall short of demonstrating sufficient insight and remediation. In these circumstances it would have been hugely beneficial to hear from the Registrant directly but this has not occurred. For example there is no mention of the impact on patients to whom inappropriate comments were directed. There is insufficient information about the level of understanding and the appreciation of the impact on others. No examples of learning have been given beyond generalized assertions. There is also a strap line at the end of the email setting out the written representations “Nothing to fear but fear itself so live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse….” This, at the end of a reflective piece, did undermine the Registrant’s assertions of a meaningful change in attitude.

10.  With this in mind, the Panel is left with insufficient evidence to be satisfied that the public would be protected if the Registrant was to be permitted to return to unrestricted practice. The Panel considered that, in the absence of evidence of the Registrant having developed sufficient insight into his failings and taken action to remedy these failings, there is a risk to the public.

11.  Despite his previous career before these events and the steps taken since the Final Hearing, the Panel has  determined  that  there  remains  a  risk  of  repetition  and  the  matter  is sufficiently serious to continue to put the public at risk in the absence of sufficient remediation and insight into the gravity of his actions. There is a persuasive burden on him to demonstrate that he has fully acknowledged the potential risks to the public that his conduct caused and its consequences. The Registrant has not done so. Accordingly, the Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of his misconduct.

12.  Central to the Panel’s consideration on sanction was the public interest. The public interest includes the need to protect service users, to declare and uphold proper  standards  of  behaviour  and  to  maintain  public  confidence  in  the profession.

13.  The Panel first considered taking no action or mediation and rejected these outcomes as, in the circumstances, either would be wholly inappropriate and inadequate to take no further action.

14.  The Panel next considered imposing a Caution Order and rejected this sanction.
The Panel determined that this sanction could not meet the safeguards currently required to protect the public. The misconduct represents behaviour and attitudes that put the public at risk and undermined the trust that work colleagues had in him, as well as the confidence in the profession that the public was entitled to have. The incidents were not isolated as there was a pattern of misbehaviour. The incidents were serious and not minor. There is insufficient evidence of complete insight. There is a low, but unacceptable, risk of repetition.

15.  The  Panel  next  considered  replacing  the  current  Suspension  Order  with  a Conditions of Practice Order. In light of the Registrant’s written submissions there is information before this Panel to show that the Registrant has gained some, but insufficient, insight, that he has an appropriate level of remorse and that he has commenced remediation. The Panel determined that there were suitable, enforceable and workable conditions that could meet the prevailing concerns, now that a 12 month Suspension has also taken effect. In the Panel’s view, this level of restriction would adequately deal with matters in a case where there are no clinical concerns. The conditions would ensure that the Registrant’s stated change of approach can be monitored through regular reports to the HCPC. Colleagues and patients will be protected by the conditions as the Registrant will be aware that his behaviour, in terms of past failures, will be actively monitored. This represents a proportionate outcome as the Registrant can work in his chosen profession under necessary restrictions. In the Panel’s view an 18 month Order is appropriate to enable the Registrant to gain employment and subsequently to enable the necessary insight and remediation to fully develop the required standards of behavour. In addition, the next review needs to be a meaningful one with, three- four supervisory reports being available.  Such reports are to be submitted every 3 months. There is also a need to ensure that there is time for the Registrant to secure employment and to prepare for the Review hearing. Should it be the case that the Registrant is in a position to have three-four reports available, sooner than 18 months’ time, then it is open to him to ask for an earlier review.

16. The Panel, by way of confirmation, considered whether to extend the existing period of Suspension. The Panel determined that such a course would be disproportionate as it would continue to prevent the Registrant from practising when a lesser outcome would sufficiently protect the public. It is contrary to the public interest to deprive the public of a competent practitioner who, through conditions, could practise safely and effectively.

17.  In all the circumstances, the Panel has determined that a proportionate and sufficient order to make is a Conditions of Practice Order for 18 months.

18.  This Panel would encourage the Registrant to attend the next review hearing. The next reviewing Panel may be assisted by updated references and testimonials as to his professional conduct and any other evidence that the Registrant believes may be of assistance to demonstrate that he has addressed his shortcomings

Order

Order: 
The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that for a period of 18 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (6 February 2016) you, Mr Richard Senior must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any work, voluntary or paid, as a registered Paramedic.
2. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor, registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator, and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within two weeks of taking up such work.  You must attend upon that supervisor when required and follow their advice and recommendations. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no requirement for direct clinical supervision. 
3. You must allow your work place supervisor to provide reports to the HCPC every three months. The reports must address, specifically:
• your ability to communicate appropriately and professionally with colleagues and patients, taking into account equality and diversity.
• your ability to behave appropriately and professionally with colleagues and patients, taking into account equality and diversity.
• your compliance with your employer’s policies and guidelines, with specific reference to: driving under emergency conditions and equality and diversity.
4. You must not work as a lone responder.
5. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.
6. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
a. Any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;
b. Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and
c. Any prospective employer (at the time of your application)
7. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.
8. Any condition requiring you to provide information to the HCPC is to be met by you, sending the information to the offices of the HCPC marked for the attention of the Director of Fitness to Practise.


The order imposed today will apply from 06 February 2016.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 06 August 2017.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Richard Senior

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
21/12/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice