Mr William Lininsh
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Whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner you:
1. On 24 October 2014 at York Magistrates Court were convicted of:
a) Driving a motor vehicle, after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your breath, namely 89 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, exceeded the prescribed limit contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
2. Did not declare the matter as described in paragraph 1 to the Health and Care Professions Council on your renewal form dated 28 October 2014.
3. Your actions described in paragraph 2 were dishonest.
4. The matters set out in paragraph 2 and 3 constitute misconduct.
5. By reason of your conviction as described in paragraph 1, your fitness to practise is impaired.
6. By reason of your misconduct as described in paragraphs 2-4 your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Panel was satisfied that notice of today’s hearing had been served on the Registrant at his registered address.
Proceeding in absence
2. The Registrant did not appear nor was he represented. He had not attended the final hearing in December 2016 or the first review hearing in April 2017.
3. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Bass applied for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that the Registrant had been notified of the date, time and location of the hearing at his registered address. Attempts to contact the Registrant by email and telephone had met with no response. Ms Bass therefore submitted that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.
4. Having considered the revised HCPC Practice Note on proceeding in absence and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162 (“the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations against medical practitioners is of real importance”), the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable notice of today’s hearing. The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment. The Registrant had not engaged or attended thus far. There was no indication that he would attend at a later date if today’s hearing were to be adjourned. The Panel noted the overriding public interest in dealing with matters in a timely manner and that this was a mandatory review. In balancing the Registrant’s interest and the public interest, the Panel decided that the matter should be heard in the absence of the Registrant.
5. The Registrant was first registered as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) in October 2004. He was involved in a road traffic collision on 4 October 2014. Having provided his contact details, he left the scene before the police arrived. Police attended his home address and he confirmed that he had been driving the vehicle. He was arrested and at the police station and his breath was tested, at which point the lowest reading was 89 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. He pleaded guilty to an excess alcohol offence on 24 October 2014. He was fined £440 and disqualified from driving for 22 months.
6. The Registrant completed an HCPC renewal of registration form on 28 October 2014 in which he declared that he had not received any convictions or cautions since the last registration period. He was referred to the HCPC on 11 May 2015 when his employer became aware of his conviction as a result of a renewal of the Registrant’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
7. The Registrant did not appear and nor was he represented before the Conduct and Competence Committee of the HCPC at a final hearing on 14 December 2016. He was found to have been convicted of the offence and to have acted dishonestly in failing to declare the conviction to the HCPC only four days after his court appearance.
8. The Panel at the final hearing found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his conviction and his misconduct in dishonestly failing to declare his conviction. The Registrant was found to have brought his profession into disrepute and to have undermined public trust in the reputation of his profession and his regulator by reason of his dishonesty. In his favour, it was accepted that this incident appeared to be an isolated act and there was no other evidence of dishonest conduct. The Registrant had made full admissions to the police and had admitted the allegation in his pro forma response to the HCPC.
9. The Panel at the final hearing decided that a Suspension Order of 4 months was sufficient to uphold public confidence in the profession and suggested that no further review was really necessary. The case was too serious for any lesser order and that it was necessary to send a deterrent message to the profession that such dishonesty will not be tolerated.
10. The first review hearing was on 7 April 2017. The HCPC had had no communication with the Registrant. The first review Panel recognised that the Panel at the final hearing had concluded that a short suspension of 4 months was sufficient, but concluded that there could be no confidence in the Registrant’s current fitness to practise in the absence of any response or engagement by the Registrant with his regulator. The first review Panel therefore extended the Order by a further 4 months.
The second review
11. Ms Bass for the HCPC reminded the Panel of the history of the case and of its powers as to extending, continuing, varying or revoking the order or imposing another order. She submitted that there were continuing concerns about the Registrant’s fitness to practise in the absence of any response or information as to his circumstances. Accordingly, it was submitted that his fitness to practise remained impaired.
12. In relation to sanction, Ms Bass for the HCPC submitted that a further Suspension Order might be disproportionate in this case, in view of the finding of the Panel at the final hearing that an order of 4 months duration was the appropriate and proportionate sanction. Ms Bass submitted that a series of suspensions leading ultimately to striking-off was neither proportionate nor necessary. The case related to an incident outside the Registrant’s professional practice and there was no concern about his clinical competence. She therefore submitted that the Panel could now consider either making no further order or a Caution Order.
13. A substantive review is a two stage process. The first task of the Panel is to decide whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired and if so, to then consider what, if any, sanction should be imposed upon his registration. In reaching its decision, the Panel has considered all the relevant material and had regard to the HCPC Practice Notes on Impairment and Indicative Sanctions Policy and the necessity for proportionality. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to the principles to be applied on the issues of impairment and sanction.
14. The Panel had firmly in mind that the purpose of this hearing was to conduct an appraisal of the Registrant’s current fitness to practise and that this was not a rehearing of the facts of the original case.
15. The Panel accepted the submissions made on behalf of the HCPC that the Registrant had failed to engage with the regulatory process or to submit any evidence of insight or remediation. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired. In making this finding, the Panel had in mind the absence of any information about the Registrant’s current circumstances. The Panel also considered the need to maintain public confidence in the profession.
16. The Panel found merit in the submission advanced by Ms Bass for the HCPC that a further extension of the Suspension Order, leading ultimately to striking-off at some future stage, was disproportionate in a case in which there was no apparent issue about the Registrant’s professional practice or clinical competence. The Panel attached significant weight to the decision of the Panel at the final hearing that a short suspension was a sufficient and proportionate sanction in the case of this single incident of misconduct.
17. However, the nature of the misconduct, involving a dishonest declaration to the regulator, was too serious to make no order, especially in view of the absence of any engagement by the Registrant with the HCPC. The Panel therefore moved to consider whether a Caution Order would mark the gravity of the original misconduct, protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession. The Panel had in mind the decision of the Panel at the final hearing that this was an isolated incident of dishonesty and that there were no other aggravating features or past concerns as to the Registrant’s honesty or clinical competence.
18. The Panel considered that a Caution Order of 3 years was the appropriate and proportionate sanction in these circumstances. The duration of the order is intended to mark the seriousness of the dishonest conduct and the absence of engagement, but also to permit the Registrant to return to practice, following a period of suspension. A Caution Order of this duration will ensure public protection because the Registrant’s future employers will be put on notice as to the finding of misconduct.
19. A Conditions of Practice Order was not appropriate or workable, in the absence of any information about his current circumstances. It was also difficult to formulate conditions of practice in the case of a single incident of dishonesty.
20. For the reasons already stated above, a further extension of the Suspension Order would be disproportionate and have the effect of punishing the Registrant for his lack of engagement. It was also unnecessary in the absence of concerns about his clinical practice or risk to service users. There was a danger that a further suspension would lead ultimately to the sanction of striking-off, which would be a punitive and disproportionate outcome in this case.