Mr Gerald J Higgins
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Proceeding in private
1. At the commencement of the hearing, an application was made on behalf of the Registrant that the case should be heard in private (the reasons for which were heard in private). The HCPC did not oppose the application and the Panel agreed that this was the appropriate course of action.
2. At the final hearing, which took place on 11 May 2012, the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired on two grounds.
3. The Registrant admitted the allegations at the final hearing. There was no suggestion that the Registrant’s professional competence was ever called into question. The panel at the final hearing found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired.
4. The panel at the final hearing took account of the offences but also the fact that there was a health issue which made a significant contribution to the commission of the offences; that panel regarded the health issue as having been largely remedied. There was also evidence of both remorse and insight. That panel noted that the Registrant’s recovery reflected his efforts to overcome significant personal challenges. That panel felt that the Registrant should be allowed to continue to practise the laboratory functions of his profession and imposed a Conditions of Practice Order for 3 years.
5. The reviewing panel on 14 May 2015 was impressed by the steps taken by the Registrant since his conviction. That panel was satisfied that there was unlikely to be any repetition of the matters which led to the conviction. That panel reiterated the previous panel’s finding that the Registrant’s professional competence was in no way called into question.
6. That panel varied the Conditions of Practice Order which it imposed for a period of 18 months.
7. The Panel heard submissions from Ms Marris and from Mr Smith on behalf of the Registrant. The Panel had regard to the decisions of the previous panels and has exercised its own independent judgment. The Panel received and accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and had regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.
8. The Panel was presented with no evidence of any change in circumstances other than the passage of time since the last review. The Panel noted Mr Smith’s submissions that there was no intention to make any such application in the near future.
9. The previous panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired.
10. This Panel agreed with the previous panel that there would be a negative effect on the reputation of the profession and confidence in the regulatory process if the Registrant’s fitness to practise was not deemed to be impaired. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired on the grounds of public protection and otherwise in the public interest.
11. In relation to sanction, the Panel considered that given the necessity for the Registrant’s practice to be restricted, neither taking no action or imposing a caution order would be appropriate or proportionate. The Panel was satisfied that a Conditions of practice order continued to be the appropriate and proportionate response. The Panel heard the submissions of Mr Smith that the current order was having no adverse effect on the Registrant and was satisfied that the current conditions were workable and practicable.
12. The Panel considered that the current order ought to be continued for the maximum period of 3 years. The Panel took into account that upon a change of circumstances, the Registrant could apply for an early review.
This Order will be reviewed before it expires.
History of Hearings for Mr Gerald J Higgins
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|11/11/2019||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|07/11/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|