Mr Adrian M Stanley
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(a) On 25 June 2015 driving a motor vehicle on Beach Road, Talybont after
consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your urine, namely 276 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine, exceeded the prescribed limit.
(b) On 28 June 2015 driving a motor vehicle on Llwyn Ynn, Talybont after
consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your urine, namely
124 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine, exceeded the prescribed limit.
2. By reason of your conviction for the offences set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired.
1. The Panel heard that notice in respect of this hearing was sent by first class post and email to the Registrant’s registered address on 6 September 2017 in accordance with rules 3 and 6 of the Conduct and Competence Procedure Rules 2003.
2. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and determined that the notice had been served in accordance with the Rules.
3. Mr Newman, on behalf of the HCPC, invited the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He referred the Panel to the guidance contained in the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and informed the Panel that no response had been received from the Registrant to the Notice of Hearing. Further, he submitted that it was appropriate for the Panel to exercise its discretion to proceed on the basis that the Registrant had chosen not to engage with the process and had waived the right to appear. He pointed out that there had been no request from the Registrant for an adjournment. He also submitted that the public interest in the expeditious disposal of the allegation outweighed any disadvantage to the Registrant in proceeding in his absence.
4. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who reminded it of the guidance provided in the cases of R v Jones  UKHL5, Adeogba v the General Medical Council  EWCA Civ 162 and Davies v HCPC  EWHC 1593 (Admin).
5. The Panel recognised that the discretion to proceed in the absence of a Registrant is one which must be exercised with the utmost care and caution and that its decision should be guided by the overarching objective to protect the public. It noted that it would run counter to that objective if a practitioner could effectively frustrate the process by deliberately failing to engage.
6. In reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to the nature and circumstances of the Registrant’s behaviour in absenting himself. In particular, whether the behaviour was voluntary and so waived his right to be present. The Panel balanced the public interest in the timely disposal of the allegation with the disadvantage to the Registrant should the hearing proceed in his absence. The Panel took note of the fact that there had been no response from the Registrant to the notice. It therefore had no reason to believe that, if it were to adjourn the hearing, the Registrant would attend on the next occasion.
7. On the basis of the information before it, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and waived his right to be present. It determined that it would be fair and in the interests of justice to proceed in his absence.
8. The Registrant was not present at the HCPC Final Hearing, nor was he represented. The previous panel found proved the facts alleged.
9. That Panel was informed that the West Midlands Ambulance Service had confirmed that the Registrant no longer worked as a Paramedic as he had retired on health grounds on 1 July 2015. It was also informed that the Registrant had confirmed with the HCPC that he no longer wished to practice as a Paramedic and that he did not wish to engage with the process as he felt that the proceedings were affecting his health.
10. In its Decision on Impairment the Final Hearing Panel stated:
“The Panel concluded that the Registrant had shown no insight into the inappropriateness of his actions at the time of committing the offences. On the occasion of his second arrest, which occurred within three days of his first arrest for the same offence, the Registrant told the police officer” ‘I just don’t believe this. I’m going to be over again, I just knew it. Can’t you let me off?’. The Registrant showed no awareness of why driving in such a condition was improper, or of the risk that it could pose.
The Registrant’s activity, which led to him being convicted of two counts of driving a motor vehicle having consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, amounted to a breach of one of the fundamental tenets of his profession.
There was no evidence before the Panel to show that the Registrant had developed insight into his behaviour since the events. This caused the Panel concern in that the Registrant may not comprehend why the consumption of alcohol could not mix with the practice of his profession. This presented the potential for harm to service users.
The Registrant’s actions had at the time brought his profession into disrepute and continued to do so. The public has a right to expect its paramedics to obey the laws of the land. The absence of insight and of evidence of any attempt on the part of the Registrant to remediate his actions also give rise to a real risk of repetition.
The Panel found that the nature of the Registrant’s convictions was such that he presented a risk to the public and that the wider public interest demanded a finding of impairment in order to uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.”
11. In its Decision on Sanction the Final Hearing Panel stated:
“The Panel … considered a Conditions of Practice Order. However, it was unable to formulate workable conditions that would reflect the circumstances of the case given the absence of insight or engagement by the Registrant.
The Panel then considered a Suspension Order. The Panel concluded that a period of Suspension would provide the necessary level of public protection for its duration and would allow the Registrant an opportunity for reflection in which to both develop insight and to remediate his behaviour. As such, the Panel found a Suspension Order to be the appropriate sanction in this case.
The Panel next considered the appropriate length of the Suspension Order, and concluded that 12 months was the minimum period needed in which to develop appropriate insight and to demonstrate remediation.
Accordingly, the Panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months.
The Suspension Order will be reviewed prior to its expiry and the Panel conducting that review might be assisted by the following:
a. The Registrant’s attendance at the hearing;
b. A reflective piece written by the Registrant, demonstrating insight into his convictions and the real and potential consequence of his behaviour on others, and any remedial actions undertaken during the period of suspension;
c. Evidence of CPD, to maintain the Registrant’s competence as a paramedic.”
12. At today’s hearing, Mr Newman on behalf of the HCPC took the Panel through the background to this matter. Mr Newman noted that the Registrant had not responded to any of the guidance set out by the Final Hearing Panel as to how he might assist this Reviewing Panel. The Panel had before it no new information to indicate whether the Registrant has developed any insight into the reasons for his conviction or taken any steps to remedy his offending behaviour thus avoiding its repetition. Mr Newman submitted that in these circumstances, the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
13. Mr Newman submitted that this is not a case where any lesser sanction than that imposed by the Final Hearing Panel would be appropriate. He referred the Panel to the Indicative Sanctions Policy and to Paragraph 48 of that Policy which refers to the imposition of a Striking-Off Order where there is a lack of insight, continuing problems or denial. It states that a Registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate.
14. In reaching its decision, the Panel has taken account of all the evidence put before it, together with the submissions of Mr Newman, on behalf of the HCPC. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
15. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise continues to be impaired by reason of his conviction. To that end, it asked itself what had changed since the Final Hearing which might enable it to conclude that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired.
16. The Registrant has not engaged with the process and has not responded to any of the suggestions of the Final Hearing Panel. As a consequence, the Panel has received no information to suggest that he has developed insight into his offending behaviour or that he has taken any steps to remediate this. In these circumstances, the Panel has concluded that there remains the risk that the Registrant would repeat the behaviour which led to his conviction and so continues to present a risk to the public.
17. The Panel also asked itself whether the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and performance would be undermined if it did not make a finding of continuing impairment. In the light of the Registrant’s non-engagement and the absence of any evidence of insight or remediation, the Panel concluded that confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be undermined if a finding of continuing impairment of fitness to practise is not made.
18. For all these reasons, the Panel decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continues to be impaired on public protection and public interest grounds.
19. Having found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired, the Panel went on to consider what if any action to take. The options open to it were to make no order, to impose a Caution Order or a Conditions of Practice Order, to extend the current Suspension Order or to impose a Striking-Off Order.
20. For the same reasons identified by the Final Hearing Panel, this Panel concluded that any order less restrictive than a Suspension Order would be inappropriate. The Panel noted that an extension of the current Suspension Order would protect the public while it remained in place. It also noted that the Registrant’s disqualification from driving would have expired by 20 August 2017. It considered therefore that it would be fair and proportionate to provide the Registrant with a further opportunity to reconsider his options including retirement and to provide him with a further opportunity to engage with this process and to demonstrate his fitness to practise without restriction.
21. The Panel did consider the imposition of a Striking-Off Order but concluded that such a course would be disproportionate at this time.
22. For the reasons set out above, the Panel concluded that an extension of the current Suspension Order would protect the public while providing the Registrant with a further opportunity for reflection in which to both develop insight and to remediate his behaviour. The Panel concluded that such an order would also be in the wider public interest. The Panel decided that a 12 month extension of the current Suspension Order would be sufficient for this purpose and also both appropriate and proportionate.
23. If the Registrant does wish to return to practice as a Paramedic, this Panel suggests that the reviewing Panel is likely to be assisted by the following:
· The Registrant’s attendance at the hearing;
· A reflective piece written by the Registrant, demonstrating insight into his offending behaviour and the real and potential consequence of this behaviour on others, and any remedial actions undertaken during the period of suspension;
· Evidence of Continuing Professional Development, to maintain the Registrant’s competence as a Paramedic.
This Panel wishes to remind the Registrant that if the Reviewing Panel makes a finding of current impairment, then all options, including that of a Striking-Off Order, will be open to it.
The Order imposed today will apply from the end of 10 November 2017.
This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 10 November 2018.