Mr Peter Glasscote

Profession: Operating department practitioner

Registration Number: ODP12863

Interim Order: Imposed on 14 Dec 2015

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 03/10/2016 End: 16:00 04/10/2016

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner:

1. On 29 November 2015, you accepted a conditional caution from Kent Police for the offence of ‘Theft by employee';

2. On unknown dates between 1 January 2015 and 15 October 2015, you self-administered controlled drugs whilst on duty;

3. Your actions described at particular 2 constitute misconduct;

4. By reason of your caution set out at particular 1 and/or your misconduct set out at particulars 2 and 3 your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters


Service


1. The Panel had sight of a letter dated 5 August 2016 sent to the Registrant at his registered address, giving notice of today’s hearing, and determined that service had been complied with in accordance with Rule 3 of the Health Professions Council Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).


Proceeding in absence


2. Ms Hastie 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 [2003] UKPC 34, Jones (2003) 1 AC 1 and GMC –v- Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

4. The Panel was informed that the Registrant had telephoned the HCPC on 3 June 2016, saying that he did not intend to attend the hearing. The Panel also had sight of an email sent by the Registrant to the HCPC on 1 July 2016 in which he stated: “I will not be attending the hearing”.


5. The Panel concluded, from the note of the telephone call on 3 June 2016 and from the email dated 1 July 2016, that the Registrant had been aware of the hearing and had chosen not to attend. He had not made an application to adjourn and the Panel concluded that it was unlikely that he 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 and the Panel was mindful that an adjournment would cause inconvenience to her. The Panel concluded that it was in the public interest for the matter to be heard expeditiously particularly in light of the serious nature of the allegations. The Panel also took into account the Registrant’s own request for matters to be concluded quickly. The Panel were satisfied that the matter should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.


Application to hear matters in private
6. At the outset of the hearing Ms Hastie applied for details regarding the Registrant’s health to be heard in private, and this was granted pursuant to Rule 10.


Witnesses


7. The Panel heard from the following witness by videolink:


Witness 1 – Matron of In-Patient and Ambulatory Care at Benenden Hospital Trust


Background


8. The Registrant was employed by the Benenden Hospital Trust as an Operating Department Practitioner (“ODP”). His position was the equivalent of an NHS Band 6 post.


9. It was alleged that on 29 November 2015 the Registrant accepted a conditional caution from Kent Police for theft by employee, relating to the theft of controlled drugs from his employer between 15 October 2015 and 17 October 2015. It was further alleged that between 1 January 2015 and 15 October 2015 the Registrant had self-administered controlled drugs whilst on duty.


10. The Panel heard that in the course of a routine audit of controlled drugs handling practices in Theatre 3 on 15 October 2015, a discrepancy was found in relation to the quantities of controlled drugs recorded in the Controlled Drugs Ledger.


11. On 16 and 17 of October 2015 a preliminary audit of the Controlled Drug Ledgers in Theatre 3 was undertaken.  Additional discrepancies were discovered. In relation to each discrepancy it was found that the Registrant’s signature appeared against the relevant entry in either the Order book or the Controlled Drugs Ledger, and that the Registrant had been on duty at the relevant time.  The Registrant was an authorised signatory, and as a consequence he had had access to, and authority to deal with, all controlled drugs, including access to all controlled drugs cupboards in the relevant area.


12.  On 19 October 2015 a meeting was held between the Registrant and his HR manager to discuss these discrepancies. The Registrant admitted that he had taken controlled drugs from the controlled drugs cupboard whilst on duty over a period of months. He explained that he had been suffering from a health condition, and that this had caused him to act in the way that he had, and that he had been taking them for his own use. He said that he was glad that the situation had been uncovered. He confirmed that no one else had been involved.


13.  On 21 October 2015 the Registrant sent his HR Manager an email in which he admitted self-administering the controlled drugs whilst on duty. He said that he could not give an accurate estimate of the quantities that he had taken, but believed that it had gone back months, and that he had taken 1 to 2 boxes per week. He claimed that his activity had not interfered with his work, and that he had always tried to maintain high standards.


14. Witness 1 conducted an audit of the Order Books and the Controlled Drugs Ledger from 1 January 2015 to 15 October 2015. In that time she identified 81 controlled drug discrepancies, involving 753 individual ampoules/vials. The drugs included morphine, tramadol, diamorphine, morphine sulphate, fentanyl, alfentanil, midazolam and cocaine. She noted that the drugs had been taken on a weekly basis, and with increasing frequency as the months went by.


15. The discrepancies comprised either the receipt of controlled drugs into theatre without a corresponding record in the Controlled Drugs Ledger, or a record of controlled drugs in the Controlled Drugs Ledger   which did not tally with the Order Book. On each occasion the Registrant had either been the designated ODP at the time, or had completed the order for the unaccounted controlled drugs, or had signed the Controlled Drugs Ledger to the effect that he had received the drugs.


16. Witness 1 said that it did not appear that the availability of controlled drugs had been compromised by the Registrant’s activity, in that more drugs were ordered when stocks became depleted.


17.  On 27 October 2015 Witness 1 interviewed the Registrant, who fully admitted taking the controlled drugs whilst on duty. He confirmed that no one else had been involved. He said that he had suffered a health condition in the past for which he had been prescribed medication, but that he had ceased taking his medication when it became ineffective. He explained that the first occasion on which he had taken the controlled drugs had been opportunistic. He admitted that he went on to administer the drugs to himself whilst at work, and that occasionally this was by injecting intravenously. He was asked whether he had considered the safety of his patients at the time of doing so, and confirmed that he had and “had there been an effect where I felt impaired I would not have done it”.


18. Witness 1 confirmed that she was not aware of any concerns that had been raised regarding the Registrant’s performance at work, or regarding his conduct, and that he had been a well-respected member of the team. When his actions were discovered, colleagues were disappointed that he had breached their trust in him.


19.  The Registrant accepted a caution for stealing from Benenden hospital between 15 October 2015 and 17 October 2015. There were two conditions attached to the caution:  firstly, a drug treatment condition, namely that prior to 1 March 2016 the Registrant would attend three drug treatment appointments, and secondly, a condition that the Registrant would refrain from applying for a position whereby he would have access to controlled or prescribed drugs until after 1 December 2016.


20.  On 6 April 2016 the Registrant sent an email to the HCPC in which he stated:


 “I do not wish to challenge any of the points made out in the case FTP 45608. I  feel great shame in having caused such trouble to my ex colleagues at Benenden and wish to ensure they suffer no more inconvenience as a result of my actions. With this in mind I would like to make things as easy as possible for all concerned and ask you to let me know what I can do to streamline this process. On a personal note I think I need to resolve these proceedings as soon  as we are able. My.….health is improving and once I know the proceedings at the HCPC are complete I hope things will improve further……..I am in regular attendance with my GP…... I have been working full-time on a construction site from last December, my general fitness has benefited greatly along with my outlook. Not a day goes by without me regretting my actions and the impact of what I did. I am keen to bring whatever I can to make sure no one is affected any more by my wrong doings”.


Decision on Facts


21. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


22. On the basis of the evidence set out above, including the admissions made by the Registrant, the Panel found Particulars 1 `and 2 proved.


Decision on Grounds


23. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who took the Panel to the case of Roylance –v- General Medical Council No 2 [2001] 1 AC. The Panel was aware that a finding of misconduct was for the Panel’s professional judgement.


24. The Panel considered whether Particular 2 amounted to misconduct, and concluded that it did.

25. In reaching this conclusion, the Panel considered that Paragraphs 3 and 13 of the HCPC ‘Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics’ had been breached.


26. The Panel concluded that in self-administering controlled drugs stolen from the controlled cabinet at his place of work the Registrant’s conduct was deplorable. The Panel concluded that patients would be shocked if they learnt that an ODP had been under the influence of stolen controlled drugs whilst treating them. The Registrant had stolen a huge quantity of controlled drugs over a long period of time. The Panel concluded that the public would be horrified by this conduct, just as his colleagues had been when they learnt of it. The Panel took into account the evidence of Witness 1 that during the course of the ensuing investigation the Registrant’s colleagues had suffered the anxiety of feeling themselves to be under investigation.


27. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s actions in Particular 2 were very serious and clearly amounted to misconduct.


Decision on Impairment: 


28. 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 [2011] EWHC 927]).


29. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had shown little insight into his misconduct. He did not appear to understand the consequences of his actions on others. He lacked insight into his ability to do his job safely and effectively whilst under the influence of stolen and self-administered controlled drugs. Whilst he had demonstrated some remorse, his lack of insight was manifest in his decision to steal controlled drugs rather than seek medical advice for his health condition.


30. It was clear that the Registrant had posed a risk to the public at the time of taking the controlled drugs and had placed patients’ safety at risk. The Panel had been provided with no medical evidence to suggest that the Registrant no longer posed a risk. Accordingly, it was the judgment of the Panel that he remained a risk to the public.


31. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s caution, which was subject to conditions that were effective until 1 December 2016, and related to theft from his employer, was a very serious matter that brought the profession into disrepute.

32. The Panel concluded that in self-administering the drugs the Registrant had also brought the profession into disrepute. The Panel noted that he been in a senior position of trust at the time and had been tasked with the supervision of both junior members of staff and students. He had abused the trust placed in him by others.


33. It was the judgment of the Panel, by reason of the Registrant’s caution and his misconduct, that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is clearly currently impaired both on the basis of the personal and public components.


Decision on Sanction:


34. In considering what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and referred to the Indicative Sanctions Policy.


35. 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.


36. The Panel found, by way of aggravating factors, that:


• the Registrant had stolen from his employer, which amounted to a serious abuse of trust
• the thefts had involved a large quantity of controlled drugs, stolen on numerous separate occasions, over a period of several months
• the thefts had been systematic and calculated
• the Registrant had not admitted his conduct until his behaviour had been detected
• the Registrant’s behaviour had caused anxiety and distress to his colleagues who had considered themselves to be under investigation
• the Registrant had shown limited insight.


37. The Panel found, by way of mitigation, that the Registrant:


• had shown some remorse
• had made early admissions once his behaviour had been detected
• had co-operated with the disciplinary and regulatory proceedings and
• appeared to have suffered from a health issue at the time, although the Panel had not been provided with any medical evidence to support this claim.


38. The Panel concluded that in view of the seriousness of the case, and the risk that the Registrant presented to the patients, 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.


39. The Panel concluded that Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate and would be unworkable in light of the finding of dishonesty, which went to the heart of trust in the profession.

40. The Panel gave careful consideration to a Suspension Order. The Panel had concluded that there was a risk that the Registrant could repeat his behaviour and was of the view that suspension would not provide the public with sufficient protection. The Registrant had not provided any supporting evidence to convince the Panel that his wrongdoing was capable of remediation or that he had addressed the issues surrounding his misconduct appropriately. Whilst the Registrant had made reference to his health no supporting evidence had been supplied by him in relation to this.


41. In those circumstances the Panel concluded that a Striking Off Order was the only appropriate order. The Registrant had abused the trust placed in him whilst he had been in a senior position, supervising junior staff. The Registrant had breached a fundamental tenant of the profession. He had carried out a lengthy series of calculated systematic thefts of controlled drugs for personal use whilst at work. The nature and gravity of his behaviour was such that any lesser sanction would undermine public confidence in the profession. The Panel understood that a striking off order was the most serious of all sanctions. However, it concluded that there was no other way to protect the public, and that any lesser sanction would undermine confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Peter Glasscote from the Register on the date this order comes into effect

Notes

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Peter Glasscote

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off