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1. Posted offensive and derogatory messages about a member of the public on a
social networking site, namely Facebook.
2. The matter described in paragraph 1 constitutes misconduct.
3. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
Proceeding in absence
1. The Panel determined that there was good service under the HCPC’s procedural Rules of the appropriate Notice of Hearing of this review dated 29 June 2015 sent to the Registrant’s last known registered address by first class post. It also noted that the HCPC had emailed the Registrant a copy of the Notice of Hearing.
2. The Panel took into account the submission on proceeding in the absence of the Registrant from Ms Ebanks for the HCPC and it accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice. In reaching its decision the Panel also paid regard to the HCPC’s Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant. The Panel noted that there had been no engagement by the Registrant at any time in this process and that he has not responded to the Notice of Hearing for today’s review. Furthermore, the Registrant has not requested an adjournment.
3. The Panel also took into account the wider public interest in the prompt disposal of hearings, particularly as this is a mandatory review of a sanction, upon the expiry of which, with no other action, the Registrant would be free to return to unrestricted practice. Having regard to the pattern of non-engagement to date, the Panel has also concluded that it unrealistic and unlikely that, if this hearing is adjourned, the Registrant would engage, in any form, on the next occasion. It is the Panel’s judgement that the Registrant has absented himself voluntarily.
4. For these reasons, the Panel determined that the hearing should take place in the absence of the Registrant.
5. The Registrant was employed by the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (the Trust) as a Paramedic on the Clinical Support Desk at Tollgate Emergency Operations Centre. He joined the Trust on 20 September 1999 and qualified as a registered Paramedic in 2003. Due to a medical condition, the Registrant worked on the Clinical Support Desk from 2012.
6. On 12 February 2013 the Trust was notified by BBC Radio Stoke that offensive and derogatory comments had been posted on Facebook by the Registrant. The comments related to JB, one of the founder members of the group “Cure the NHS” which had been instrumental in pushing for a public enquiry into the standards of care at Stafford District General Hospital. The comments referred to JB’s late mother and to their mother and daughter relationship. In addition one comment referred to a hope that JB would suffer a life threatening illness at night and the impact that travelling further for medical treatment would have because of the closure of her local hospital. Altogether there were five or six postings made by the Registrant over a period of some four hours of varying degrees of unpleasantness.
7. An investigation was carried out by the Trust and, following a disciplinary hearing held on 30 April 2013, the Registrant was dismissed from his position at the Trust.
8. The Registrant did not submit any response to the HCPC allegation. He did not attend the final hearing, which took place on 12 May 2014. The final hearing Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired on the grounds of misconduct and imposed a sanction of 12 months’ Suspension Order. The final hearing Panel considered that the 12 month period would allow the Registrant to provide written evidence of reflection on the final hearing Panel’s findings and the wider impact of the Registrant’s misconduct upon the reputation of the profession.
9. The Registrant did not attend the review hearing on 1 May 2015 nor did he submit any documents. In the absence of any evidence of remediation that Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired, and the Panel extended the suspension order for a period of three months. In its decision the Panel stated:
“… the Panel is of the opinion that this is a remediable matter, but it is up to the Registrant, as an experienced professional, to engage with his professional body, to understand the efforts being made to help him fully remediate and to establish that he is fit to resume unrestricted practice. To achieve that, he must demonstrate that he is fully remediated in the way envisaged by the last Panel and that there is no risk of repetition of such behaviour".
10. The Panel considered that a Review Panel may find it useful to have from the Registrant, "oral or written evidence, or both, of his reflection, learning and insight in respect of his actions, with particular reference to the impact of his misconduct on the victim, the public and his profession.”
11. The Panel has taken into account the submission of Ms Ebanks for the HCPC. It has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and it has exercised the principle of proportionality. The Panel has paid respect to the previous panels’ findings, but also, as a review Panel, it has fully reviewed the case, without undermining any of the original findings, which this Panel has accepted.
12. The Panel noted that there has been no information about the Registrant, either from him, or through any other means. Therefore, the Panel has no information to establish whether he has undertaken any further remediation so as to fully understand the consequences and seriousness of his actions in February 2013 or whether there is a likelihood of recurrence in the future, and if he has full insight and any further remorse or regret.
13. In the absence of any evidence that the Registrant has undertaken any of the steps suggested by the previous panels this Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of the misconduct found proved.
14. In reaching its decision on how to dispose of the case on this review the Panel took into consideration the submission of Ms Ebanks. The Panel also exercised the principle of proportionality. In addition, the Panel has taken into consideration the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy the Panel approached each of the options for sanction on review available in ascending order, but at the top end, it compared and contrasted each sanction with the next most serious one, without going to the more serious one first.
15. The Panel first considered taking no action and mediation and rejected these. The conduct of the Registrant was offensive and caused emotional harm to the victim. It was committed by the Registrant, a senior and experienced professional who should have known better. Accordingly, taking no action or arranging mediation would not adequately reflect the seriousness of the misconduct.
16. The Panel next carefully considered imposing a Caution Order and rejected this. The Panel was of the view that the public would remain concerned that the Registrant was still not yet fully remediated and had yet to demonstrate full understanding of the impact on others of his conduct. This involved more effort on his part of demonstrating learning about the conduct and its effect on the public. Thus, public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be undermined if a Caution Order were to be imposed.
17. The Panel next considered replacing the existing Suspension Order with a Conditions of Practice Order, but determined that, at this time and in absence of hearing anything from the Registrant, there were no workable and enforceable conditions to address the behavioural and attitudinal nature of the allegation found proved.
18. The Panel next considered extending the existing Suspension Order on its expiry. It noted that the Registrant has been given two opportunities to demonstrate that he has fully addressed the issues which led to the finding of impairment being made. He has not made use of these opportunities, and therefore the Panel is not able to rule out repetition of similar behaviour.
19. The Panel accepts that the misconduct in question occurred over a short period and that previous to it the Registrant had had an unblemished record. However, set against this is the Registrant’s repeated failure to engage with the regulatory process.
20. In all the circumstances the Panel is sadly of the view that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking off Order. It makes this order with considerable regret but the Panel was left with no other realistic option given the Registrant’s failure to engage with his regulatory body.
Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Roy Guest from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.
Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the appropriate court against the decision of the Panel and the order it has made against you. The appropriate court is the High Court in England and Wales Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health & Social Work Professions Order 2001, an appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.
History of Hearings for Roy Guest
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|29/07/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|
|01/05/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|