V. Vinoth Kumar

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH64381

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 20/06/2016 End: 16:00 21/06/2016

Location: Jurys Inn Edinburgh, 43 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DH

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Physiotherapist:-

1. You were convicted on 4 February 2014 at Scarborough Magistrates' Court of driving a motor vehicle, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of alcohol in your blood exceeded the prescribed limit.

2. On 4 February 2014 at Scarborough Magistrates' Court a restraining order was imposed on you.

3. By reason of your conviction as set out in paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Physiotherapist is impaired.

4. The matter set out at paragraph 2 constitutes misconduct.

5. By reason of your misconduct as set out in paragraph 2 your fitness to practise as a Physiotherapist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters

Amendment

1. Ms Berridge, on behalf of the HCPC, applied to amend particular 1 to replace “blood” with “breath”. Mr Willoughby, on behalf of Mr Kumar, did not object to this application. The Panel was satisfied that no injustice would be caused by the amendment and agreed to it being made.

Background

2. On 26 September 2013 a police officer was at Mr Kumar’s home address when Mr Kumar arrived home at 20.50 accompanied by his young son. The police officer asked to speak with Mr Kumar and noticed that he smelt of alcohol. Mr Kumar was arrested and taken to Scarborough Police Station where he provided a positive breath test on a roadside screening device. Subsequently Mr Kumar provided two breath tests on a CAMIC breath test device where both readings were 63 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

3. On 27 September 2013 Mr Kumar was interviewed by a police officer. In the interview he stated that he drank one small glass of whisky at 14.00 on 26 September 2013 and another small glass during dinner at 18:00. He went on to state that at about 19.30 he drove to the supermarket with his eight year old son and he returned at about 20.00. He took his shopping into the kitchen where he drank another small glass of whisky, and remained in the kitchen for a further 20 minutes until a police officer asked him to go outside.

4. Mr Kumar was charged with an offence of driving having consumed so much alcohol that the proportion in his breath exceeded the prescribed limit. On his first appearance at court Mr Kumar pleaded not guilty but on 4 February 2014 he changed his plea to guilty.

5. He was fined £625 and disqualified from driving for 17 months; the  disqualification to be reduced by 4 months on successful completion of a rehabilitation course.

Decision on Facts and Grounds

6. Mr Kumar has admitted that he was convicted of the offence, and the Panel has seen the Memorandum of Conviction from Scarborough Magistrates’ Court. Accordingly, the Panel finds Particular 1 proved. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the ground of conviction is established.

Decision on Impairment

7. The Panel took into account the HCPC Practice Notes on Impairment of Fitness to Practise and on Conviction and Caution allegations and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

8. In making its decision the Panel took into account all the evidence available including the oral evidence of Mr Kumar.

9. In his evidence Mr Kumar told the Panel that he has attended the rehabilitation course where he learnt about the dangers of drinking and driving. He told the Panel that he understood that his conviction would damage the reputation of the profession and that he understood that he had put his son at risk by driving with him in the car.

10. Mr Kumar explained to the Panel that the offence occurred at a difficult time in his personal life and that his life had now moved on and his personal life was stable. He added that he now had coping strategies in place to deal with any stressors if he was faced with similar difficulties. Mr Kumar said that he does not often drink alcohol, the last time being Christmas 2015.

11. By reason of his conviction Mr Kumar was in breach of the following standards of the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics:

Standard 3: You must keep high standards of personal conduct

Standard 13: You must …. make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.

12. The Panel is satisfied that Mr Kumar’s personal difficulties at the time of the offence go some way to explaining his behaviour but they do not excuse it.

13. The Panel is satisfied that Mr Kumar does not pose a risk to service users, and notes that this offence did not occur when he was at work. In reaching its decision the Panel recognise that it has no evidence that there are any deficiencies in Mr Kumar’s clinical practice.

14. Taking into account Mr Kumar’s evidence the Panel is satisfied that the risk of repetition of similar behaviour is low and that he has insight into his behaviour and its consequences.

15. Drink driving is a serious offence that poses a risk to other road users. The  Panel has taken into consideration that the alcohol reading was nearly twice  the legal limit and that Mr Kumar had his young son in the car at the time.   Accordingly, the Panel has concluded that public confidence in the profession  would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. In addition, a  finding of impairment is required to maintain proper standards of conduct and  behaviour.

16. For these reasons the Panel has concluded that Mr Kumar’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his conviction.

Decision on sanction

17. In coming to its own, independent, decision as to sanction, the Panel took into account all the evidence and the submissions made.

18. In deciding what sanction to impose, if any, the Panel has reminded itself that the purpose of sanctions is not to be punitive but to protect service users and the public interest, although there may be a punitive effect.  The Panel has also taken into account the principle of proportionality, balancing the interests of the public with those of Mr Kumar. It has also taken into account the HCPC’s Indicative Sanction Policy and it has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

19. In reaching its decision the Panel has taken into account that its finding of impairment was made solely on the basis of the need to maintain public confidence in the profession, and that there are no issues of service user safety arising from Mr Kumar’s offence.

20. The Panel has had regard to Paragraph 9 of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanction Policy which states:
 “Even if a Panel has determined that fitness to practise is impaired, it is  not obliged to impose a sanction.  This is likely to be an exceptional  outcome but, for example, may be appropriate in cases where a finding  of impairment has been reached on the wider public interest grounds  identified above but where the registrant has insight, has already taken  remedial action and there is no risk of repetition.”

21. The Panel considers that Mr Kumar’s case is such a case and has therefore decided that it is not necessary to impose a sanction. It considers that to impose any sanction would be disproportionate in all the circumstances of the case, given it was one-off incident in an otherwise unblemished career and occurred at a difficult time in his personal life.

22. The finding of impairment itself is sufficient to send the message to Mr Kumar, the public and the profession that his behaviour in September 2013 was unacceptable. Accordingly the Panel determined to take no further action.

Order

The Panel found the case well found but that no further action would be taken.

Notes

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for V. Vinoth Kumar

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing No further action