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Whilst employed as a Paramedic with the East Midlands Ambulance Service you:
1. On 12 March 2015 Lincoln Magistrates Court, received a conditional discharge for 12 months for the theft of Entonox from East Midlands Ambulance Service between 31 May 2014 and 30 July 2014
2. The matter set out at paragraph 1 constitutes misconduct
3. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Panel had sight of a letter dated 17 November 2015 that had been sent to the Registrant at her registered address, giving notice of today’s hearing, and determined, in accordance with Rule 3 of the Health Professions Council Rules 2003 (“the Rules”), that service had been properly complied with.
2. Ms Jones on behalf of the HCPC applied to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who took the Panel to the Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant, to Rule 11 and to the guidance given in the cases of Tait –v The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons  UKPC 34 and Jones (2003) 1 AC 1, including the passage of the judgement in which is was said that:
“A defendant afflicted by involuntary illness or incapacity will have much stronger grounds for resisting the continuance of a trial than one who has voluntarily chosen to abscond.”
4. The Panel took account of correspondence containing the Registrant’s representations about her attendance at the hearing.
5. The HCPC had sent an email to the Registrant on 9 November 2015 enquiring about her dates of availability for the hearing. The Registrant replied by email on 9 November 2015 stating that she was unable to attend due to a medical condition. She stated that since suffering a medical injury (which she described) she has been unable to travel long distances.
6. The HCPC responded by email dated 11 November 2015, requesting further information about her injury and stating that it might be possible to make arrangements for her to attend via video link or teleconference or to relocate the hearing to a location close to her.
7. The HCPC followed that up with a telephone call on 12 November 2015; the Panel was provided with the scheduling officer’s file note of that conversation. The note stated that the Registrant explained that she could not physically attend due to her medical injury. The scheduling officer had then told her that the HCPC would require further information and documentation if arrangements were to be made to attend via teleconference or by means of written submissions. The file note of the conversation continued:
“The Registrant explained that she would like to keep her registration but that it would serve no purpose as she is physically unable to do her job. …...The Registrant then went on to ask if she doesn’t attend would it leave a negative impression. [The HCPC representative] voiced to her that the Panel base their decision on information presented to them and that her not attending the hearing wouldn’t leave a negative impression. [The HCPC scheduling officer] then went on to encourage her to send as much information as possible about the hearing. The Registrant agreed to do so and the call ended”.
8. The Panel was informed that the HCPC had not received any further communication from the Registrant since that date.
9. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had been informed of the various measures that could be put in place to enable her to attend the hearing but had chosen not to avail herself of those opportunities. She had not made any contact with the HCPC since the telephone conversation of 12 November 2015. The Panel concluded from this that she had voluntarily absented herself from the proceedings. She had not made an application to adjourn and the Panel concluded that it was unlikely that she would attend if the matter were to be adjourned. The Panel had been informed that the HCPC intended to call a witness to give evidence today. The Panel concluded that it was in the public interest for the matter to be heard expeditiously and that it would be right for the matter to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
10. The Panel heard from the following live witness:
- Witness 1 – Paramedic Clinical Adviser at East Midland Ambulance Service
11. It was also provided with a written statement from
Witness 2 – Legal Assistant who produced Memorandum of an entry in the register of the LIncolnshire Magistrates Court register (“the Memorandum”).
12. The Registrant commenced employment with the East Midland Ambulance Service (“the Service”) as a paramedic on 25 November 1991.
13. On 12 March 2015, at Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court, she received a conditional discharge for 12 months for the theft of Entonox cylinders from the Service between 31 May 2014 and 30 July 2014.
14. The details were that she had been seen removing Entonox gas cylinders from the Service gas store at Market Rasen Ambulance Station and taking them away in her car on three occasions. The police were alerted and a police search of the boot of her car revealed 3 Entonox cylinders. She denied the offence in police interview. On the day of her court appearance at Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court she changed her plea to guilty and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.
15. On 15 October 2014 she was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing on 5 November 2014, but did not attend.
Decision on Facts
16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
17. The Panel accepted the evidence provided by the Memorandum which confirmed that on 12 March 2015 the Registrant had received a conditional discharge for 12 months for the theft of Entonox cylinders from East Midlands Ambulance Service between 31 May 2014 and 30 July 2014. The Panel accepted that whilst the Memorandum was hearsay evidence it was a reliable document signed by a court official and worthy of considerable weight.
18. On the basis of that evidence the Panel found Particular 1 proved.
Decision on Grounds
19. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who took the Panel to the case of Roylance –v- General Medical Council No 2  1 AC. The Panel was aware that a finding of misconduct is for the Panel’s professional judgement.
20. The Panel considered whether Particular 1 amounted to misconduct, and concluded that it did. The Registrant had received a conditional discharge for an offence of theft from her place of work, which was a serious matter.
21. In reaching this conclusion, the Panel considered that Paragraphs 3 and 13 of the HCPC ‘Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics’ had been breached.
Decision on Impairment:
22. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor who addressed the Panel on the meaning of impairment and referred to the case of Grant ([Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v (1) Nursing and Midwifery council (20 Paula Grant  EWHC 927]).
23. The Panel heard that the Registrant had previously been investigated in 2011 for theft of oxygen from the service and had been given a 12 months written warning.
24. The Panel took account of the File Note dated 12 November 2015 recording a conversation between the Registrant and the HCPC representative in which the Registrant not only explained that she would be unable to attend the hearing, but also claimed that she had only entered her plea of guilty to the offence of theft because she had been advised to do so by her legal representative. The Panel noted that she had not appealed her conviction. The Panel concluded that her recent denial was suggestive of a lack of insight on her part. The Panel had not been provided with any other evidence on her part, such as evidence of remediation or mitigation.
25. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conditional discharge for a criminal offence of dishonesty at her place of work was a serious matter which outweighed all other considerations. The seriousness was exacerbated by the fact that she had received a warning for a similar allegation in 2011. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had breached one of the fundamental tenets of her profession and that confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the circumstances.
26. Accordingly the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be currently impaired by reason of her misconduct.
Decision on Sanction:
27. In considering what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and referred to the Indicative Sanctions Policy.
28. The Panel bore in mind that its purpose was not to be punitive, but to protect the public interest. It understood that it must act proportionately, balancing the interests of the Registrant with those of the public. It considered the range of available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness, starting with the option of taking no action.
29. The Panel found, by way of aggravating factors, that the conditional discharge had been imposed for an offence of theft which amounted to an abuse of her employer’s trust, and further that the Registrant had received a written warning from her employer for similar conduct in 2011.
30. In view of the seriousness of the case, to take no further action or to impose a caution order would not be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process.
31. The Panel concluded that conditions of practice would be unworkable in light of the allegation of dishonesty, and in any event the Panel was not satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct was out of character or capable of remediation.
32. The Panel gave careful consideration to a suspension order. The Registrant had not provided any evidence of remediation or insight. Instead she had denied the allegation of theft in the course of both her employer’s investigation and the police investigation and had continued with that stance until her change of plea at the magistrates’ court. Her subsequent limited engagement with the HCPC suggested that she is once again denying the allegation.
33. In those circumstances the Panel concluded that a striking off order was the only appropriate order. Such an order was necessary due to the seriousness of the misconduct and the lack of adequate remediation and insight, as set out above. The Panel had received no reassurance that Ms Marsden would not repeat her misconduct. The Panel understood that a striking off order was the most serious of all sanctions. However the Panel concluded that any lesser sanction would undermine confidence in the profession and the regulatory process
This Oder will not take effect until the appeal period ( 28 days) has expired.
The Panel Imposed an Interim Suspension Order to cover the appeal period.
History of Hearings for Louise Marsden
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|08/02/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Struck off|
|01/12/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Interim Order Review||Interim Suspension|
|18/06/2015||Investigating committee||Interim Order Application||Interim Suspension|