Mr Neil Ruch

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA33138

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 18/01/2016 End: 17:00 19/01/2016

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Not well founded

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Allegation

Whilst employed as a Paramedic with London Ambulance Service, you:

1. On 23 February 2013, informed your employer that you were sick with anxiety and stress, but you:

a. worked for Thames Ambulance Service Limited whilst on sick leave, on:
i. 25 February 2013
ii. 26 February 2013
iii. 28 February 2013
iv. 04 March 2013
v. 05 March 2013
vi. 06 March 2013
vii. 07 March 2013
viii. 08 March 2013

2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 were dishonest.

3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired. The reasons for the Committee’s decision are set out in the enclosed
document.

Finding

1. On 21 August 2006 the Registrant commenced employment with London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (‘the Trust’). On 12 August 2012 the Registrant declared his secondary employment with Thames Ambulance Service (‘TAS’) on the second job form.
2. On 21 February 2013 the Registrant verbally told his station management team that he was resigning from the Trust and commenced a months notice, which would expire on 21 March 2013.
3. On 23 February 2013, the Registrant reported sick with anxiety and stress. He was expected to provide a sick certificate by 3 March 2013 since he had been absent from work for eight days. A back dated sick certificate was received on 21 March 2013 which covered the period between 4 March 2013 and 18 March 2013. The Registrant was absent from work with the Trust between 23 February 2013 and 21 March 2013.
4. Enquiries were made with regards to the Registrant’s secondary employment with TAS and TAS confirmed that the Registrant worked for them on 25 February 2013, 26 February 2013, 28 February 2013, 04 March 2013, 05 March 2013, 06 March 2013, 07 March 2013 and 08 March 2013.

Order

Decision on facts:
5. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
Particular 1 – proved
6. The Registrant made full admissions to this particular. These admissions were completely supported by the witness evidence and documents in the bundle supplied by the HCPC.
Particular 2 – not proved
7. The Panel accepts that the Registrant resigned from the Trust on 21 February 2013. The Registrant told the Trust that he was sick through anxiety and stress on 23 February 2013. The Registrant did not work at the Trust at any time between 21 February 2013 and 21 March 2013.
8. The Panel carefully considered the facts and applied the modified Ghosh test to them; was what the Registrant did dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest paramedics and must he himself have realised that what he was doing would be regarded as dishonest by those standards? The Panel considered that a reasonable and honest paramedic in full possession of all the facts in this case would not consider the Registrant’s actions to have been dishonest. The Panel also considered that at the time of these actions the Registrant did not realise that his actions were dishonest.
9. At the time of the actions, the Registrant had resigned from the Trust and was already intending to work at TAS. He was experiencing stress and anxiety in his role at the Trust, but not in his role at TAS. He had told the Trust in August 2012 that his secondary employment was TAS. The Panel accepts the evidence given by the Registrant that whilst working at TAS he told them he was on sickness leave from the Trust during his notice period.
10. The Panel considers that the Registrant’s behaviour was naïve, and that it was wrong for him to work at TAS whilst on sick leave from the Trust. Furthermore, it was in contravention of his employment contract with the Trust. However, the Panel does not consider that the Registrant was dishonest. The allegations only relate to the Registrant’s notice period and there is no suggestion that he ever worked in secondary employment whilst on sick leave from the Trust at any other time. The Panel also took note of the Registrant’s own evidence and character witnesses called on his behalf from his current employer who were fully in possession of the facts and attest to his honesty and good character.
11. The Panel is aware that allegations of dishonesty are one of the most serious matters that can be brought against a registered professional. In all the particular circumstances of this case, the Panel is not satisfied that the HCPC have proved to the requisite standard (ie. the balance of probabilities) that the Registrant’s actions were dishonest.
Decision on grounds:
12. Having made its findings of fact the Panel then considered whether the facts found proved amounted to misconduct. In looking at whether the facts amounted to misconduct the Panel noted the definition given by Lord Clyde in Roylance v General Medical Council [2001]
‘misconduct is a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances.’
As Lord Justice Auld said in the case of General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390
‘it must be linked to the practice of medicine or conduct that otherwise brings the profession into disrepute and it must be serious.’
The serious nature was emphasised by Collins J in Nandi v General Medical Council [2004] EWHC [Admin] when he said that misconduct has been referred to as
‘conduct which would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners.’
13. In this case the Registrant gave his notice to the Trust on 21 February 2013. He told the Trust he was sick through ‘anxiety and stress’ on 23 February 2013 and never worked for the Trust again before he left on 21 March 2013. In that intervening period he did eight shifts of work at TAS. The Registrant said that the anxiety and stress had been caused solely at the Trust and he did not suffer such symptoms while working at TAS.
14. The Panel has already found that the Registrant’s actions in working at TAS during his period of notice at the Trust were not dishonest. He accepts that his behaviour in working at TAS during his period of notice from the Trust was wrong. He informed TAS that he was on sick leave from the Trust while he was working for them. It is not clear whether the Registrant was being fully paid by the Trust whilst he was working for TAS.
15. The Panel considers that whilst the Registrant’s behaviour was not dishonest, it was regrettable. However, the Panel concluded that, given the particular circumstances of the case, the Registrant’s behaviour had not brought the profession into disrepute. The Panel also concluded that any objective paramedic in full possession of the facts would not have considered his behaviour to have been deplorable.
16. The Panel therefore does not find that the matters found proved in this case were serious enough to have amounted to misconduct. As the Panel has not found misconduct this case is not well founded and is therefore concluded.


 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Neil Ruch

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
18/01/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Not well founded