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1. The Panel determined that there was good service under the Health and Care Professions Council Rules 2003, as amended, of the Notice of hearing dated 22 April 2015 sent by post to the Registrant’s HCPC registered address.
2. The Registrant attended this hearing, gave evidence and he has supplied written representations for this review. He indicated at the outset that he had to leave the hearing at 12.30pm in order to attend an employment interview. He therefore left the hearing, with the Panel’s consent, after the Panel had retired but before the Decision had been announced.
3. At the substantive hearing (07 and 08 February 2011 and 23 and 24 May 2011) the Panel found all of the above particulars proved apart from 6b. The Panel found the proved facts amounted to a lack of competence and The Registrant fitness to practise to be impaired. The Panel imposed the original Order.
4. Mr Simmonds undertook a co-terminus degree course at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff. He graduated in 2008 with a 2.1 degree in Biomedical Sciences. The course contained clinical laboratory placements as a component part and allowed Mr Simmonds to obtain HPC registration following completion of his degree.
5. Mr Simmonds commenced work as a trainee biomedical scientist (BMS) at Hereford Hospital NHS Trust on 29 September 2008 on an 18 month fixed term contract. He started work in the Blood Transfusion Department, moving to the Haematology Department in about December 2008 before returning to Blood Transfusion in February 2009. Concerns were raised about his performance and as a result the Trust’s Individual Performance Management Policy was invoked.
6. Initially the informal procedure was followed and then the formal procedure. Mr Simmonds resigned on 12 October 2009 before the formal process was completed.
The HCPC application
7. The HCPC has made an application for a review of the new Order under Article 30 subsections (2) and (4) of the 2001 Order. On the ground that in February 2015 information was received by the HCPC from the Royal Air Force (RAF) that the Registrant had made an application for employment as a BMS without disclosing that he is subject to a conditions of practice order. The HCPC submits that the Registrant deliberately misled the RAF and he is thereby in breach of condition 5(c) of the new Order. The HCPC invites the Panel today to review the new Order. The Registrant has not practised since October 2009 and has failed to address the shortcomings identified at the final hearing in 2011, giving rise to the original finding of a lack of competence. The HCPC has invited the Panel to consider whether the Registrant should remain subject to conditions of practice or whether the new Order should be replaced by another sanction.
8. The Registrant gave evidence and supplied a bundle of documents to the Panel prior to the hearing. He states that he informed the RAF of the Conditions of Practice Order, when he made an application for employment as a BMS in 2014. Therefore he is not in breach of condition 5 (c) of the new Order. He says he was not offered employment by the RAF and he had informed Corporal Hammond at the Cardiff Careers office that his HCPC registration was subject to conditions. He also entered this information onto the RAF database in 2011. Also the RAF should not have processed his application because he did not qualify for employment with them, due to the level of his Body Mass Index (BMI). He has received positive appraisals from the University of South Wales where he has been employed as a technician and he has undertaken reflective practise and professional development. He says the current conditions are too restrictive and have prevented him from obtaining employment. He says a striking off order would be a disaster for him.
9. In reaching its decision today, this Panel cannot go behind the findings of the original panels. The Panel has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and exercised the principle of proportionality and had regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.
10. The Registrant has engaged with the HCPC since the original Order was imposed. The Panel accepts the evidence of the Registrant and concludes that condition 5(c) of the new Order has not been breached by him. The Panel finds that he did include full details of the conditions on the RAF application form. However this information was not placed correctly. It was the Registrant’s intention to be open and honest with all potential employers and he had mentioned the conditions to Corporal Hammond. It is regrettable that he did not mention them at the RAF interview but the Panel accepts his explanation that he was intimidated by the interview process and the conditions were not foremost in his mind at that time. The Panel also received examples of other employment applications he has made in which there are clear statements as to the applicable conditions of practise.
11. The Panel concludes that there is a need for continuing restrictions in this case after reviewing all the available evidence today. The Registrant has a continuing deficit of insight and there is a lack of remediation. In his evidence to the Panel today the Registrant was still seeking to justify his view that the assessment of his work in Hereford was unfair. He also has a lack of understanding of the need for public protection and of the wider public interest aspects of this case. In addition he has not demonstrated that his university degree has been consolidated by “on the job” training. The Panel received some information concerning a small number of courses and training undertaken by the Registrant, including radiation protection and business administration. There is also evidence of positive steps to improve his inter personal skills and positive employment references. However there is not sufficient evidence before the Panel to demonstrate that a safe return to practice is appropriate without conditions in this case. The competence issues have not been addressed despite the progress made by the Registrant in obtaining science-related employment.
12. The Panel first considered mediation and rejected this outcome as not relevant.
13. 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 ensure the Registrant is able to safely return to practise and to protect the public.
14. The Panel next considered varying the current Conditions of Practice Order and concluded that the Registrant’s shortcomings are capable of being remedied.
15. The Panel has taken into account that HCPC sanctions are not intended to be punitive; but are only imposed when it is necessary to do so, to safeguard the public and to maintain public confidence in the BMS profession and the regulatory process. A suspension order is not appropriate because the Registrant has demonstrated a genuine desire to remedy his failings.
16. Accordingly the Panel has determined that the Conditions of Practice should be varied to:
(1) You must not work as a qualified Biomedical Scientist until you have completed a period in a training grade and demonstrated your competence to the satisfaction of your employer through the completion of a professional portfolio.
(2) You must send any successfully completed professional portfolio approved by the Institute of Biomedical Science and your employer at the time of completion to the HCPC.
(3) You must notify the HCPC of any change in your role or employer including temporary employment opportunities arranged by an agency.
(4) 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 as a BMS;
b. any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with as a BMS (at the time of application); and,
c. any prospective employer (at the time of application for a BMS post).
17. This order will be reviewed before it expires and the Panel considered that it may assist that reviewing panel for the Registrant to provide:
18. Recent references and testimonials from senior professionals able to comment upon your skills and proficiency.
19. Evidence of your learning and development in the scientific arena that might include, e.g. the recent training in radiation protection and business administration, critical reflection of public protection and the wider public interest in the context of BMS practice.
The Registrar is directed to vary the Conditions of Practice Order to the conditions stated above.
History of Hearings for Ian Simmonds
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|18/10/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|
|24/11/2017||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|27/11/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|14/05/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|