Mr Justin Williams
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During the course of your employment as an Operating Department Practitioner with BMI Bath Clinic, between March 2008 and April 2015, you:
1. On or around 24 May 2014, when closing down theatre 2:
a) Did not shut and/or lock the anaesthetic drug cupboards and/or fridge.
b) Left a Propofol-filled syringe with intravenous infusion and warming coil in the theatre connected to the infusion pump.
c) Did not ensure that the intubation trolley was adequately tidied and/or stocked.
d) Left drugs on the anaesthetic machine and/or trolley.
2. On 19 December 2014, you:
a) Did not adequately check and/or prepare the anaesthetic machine prior to a patient being anaesthetised.
b) Did not recognise that the reservoir bag had been incorrectly connected to the common gas outlet.
c) Responded inappropriately to a problem with the anaesthetic machine, in that you prepared to swap the anaesthetic machine with another without carrying out the prerequisite checks.
3. The matters set out in paragraph 1-2 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
4. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the Rules.
Application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence
2. Ms Rapu made an application for the Panel to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel was informed that the Registrant had not recently responded to communications sent by the HCPC to his current address on the register. He had not applied for an adjournment or provided any information as to why the hearing should be adjourned.
3. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing and waived his right to attend and, given his previous non-attendance, there was no likelihood that an adjournment would result in his attending in the future. This is a mandatory review and it should be heard in a timely manner. The case concerns public protection issues. In all the circumstances, the Panel decided that it should proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.
4. The Registrant was employed as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) with BMI Bath Clinic in the role of Theatre Practitioner in Anaesthetics from September 2004.
5. He was responsible for closing down the theatre on Saturday 24 May 2014. It was discovered on the next working day that the theatre had not been correctly closed as set out in particular 1 of the allegation.
6. On 19 December 2014 the Registrant failed to diagnose and correct a fault in a machine being used in an operation. Instead, he proposed switching the patient to a different anaesthetic machine which was an inappropriate response. This is the incident referred to in particular 2 of the allegation.
7. The Registrant’s employer referred him to the HCPC in relation to the above incidents and this resulted in these proceedings.
8. The Registrant was neither present nor represented at the final hearing on 18 February 2016. The panel found the particulars proved and determined that they constituted misconduct.
9. Whilst the panel acknowledged the Registrant’s admissions and apologies, it found his fitness to practise to be impaired, having regard to his limited insight as to the potential harm to patients and colleagues by reason of his failings, which he had not yet addressed.
10. By way of sanction the panel imposed a Suspension Order for 12 months, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct. The panel advised the Registrant that a future review panel would be assisted by:
a) a reflective statement covering both incidents;
b) if his health was relevant, evidence from him and/or his GP about his health at the time of the incident and subsequently;
c) information as to his intentions with regard to his future as an ODP;
d) any remedial or rehabilitative steps taken by him;
e) evidence that he had maintained his continuing professional development (CPD);
f) references and/or testimonials in relation to any work which he had undertaken in healthcare.
11. The Registrant did not attend and was not represented at the first review of the substantive order on 15 February 2017. However, he provided written submissions by email dated 1 February 2017. In his submissions, he acknowledged his shortcomings and expressed remorse. He also provided some reflection on the incidents and information relating to problems which he had experienced in the past with his health and in his personal and family life. However, none of that information was corroborated by any independent evidence and the Registrant did not attend the hearing to give evidence in support of his written submissions. He did not provide any evidence as to his current state of health, his continuing professional development or testimonials as to any recent work undertaken.
12. The panel at the first review decided to impose a further period of suspension for a period of 6 months to protect the public and give the Registrant a further opportunity to produce evidence that he was fit to return to practice. He was urged to attend the next review hearing.
13. The Registrant did not attend and was not represented at the second review hearing on 14 August 2017. The panel on that occasion determined that, in the absence of any new information, the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired. The panel decided to impose a further Suspension Order for 4 months to concentrate his mind on the need to engage with the HCPC and demonstrate his fitness to practise. The Registrant was warned that the next review panel might have little option but to impose a striking off order if he failed to engage.
14. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle containing the previous decisions of the Panel at the final hearing and subsequent reviews.
15. There was no new information from the Registrant, who had not engaged with the HCPC since the last review hearing.
16. On behalf of the HCPC Ms Rapu submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
17. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on Impairment of Fitness to Practise and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
18. In light of the Registrant’s failure to engage with the HCPC since his email dated 1 February 2017, the Panel concluded that his fitness to practise remains impaired. In the absence of evidence as to remediation, there would be a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct with consequent risks to the public and professional colleagues.
19. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not attended any of the four hearings in this case. He had chosen to disregard the clear advice of each of the previous Panels as to what would be required of him to satisfy a Panel that his fitness to practise is no longer impaired. He had not provided any evidence of remediation, or an intention to return to practice as an ODP. Although in his email of 1 February 2017 the Registrant refers to some limited reading and training to maintain his ODP knowledge, his absence and lack of engagement prevent the Panel from assessing his evidence.
20. The Registrant was warned by the Panel at the last review that, if, prior to the next review, he failed to engage with the HCPC and demonstrate that he had sought to address the issues relating to his fitness to practise, there would be a significant risk that he would be subject to a striking off order.
21. As the Registrant had failed to respond to the latter warning, the Panel concluded that he did not intend to remediate his practice or to engage any further with his regulator. In the circumstances, no useful purpose would be served by giving him any further opportunity to do so.
22. In the circumstances, the Panel decided that the only appropriate remedy at this stage was to impose a striking off order which will come into effect on the expiry of the current Suspension Order.
Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Justin Williams from the Register on the expiry of the existing order.