Mr Ian A Rees
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During the course of your employment as a Biomedical Scientist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital from April 2005 to 22 March 2016:
1. On 3 June 2015,
a. you inappropriately activated the stop button on an Abbott Hot Cell Analyser to top up reagents;
b. You did not follow the cuvette wash procedure once the stop had been activated;
2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
3. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired
Proof of Service
1. Notice of today’s hearing was sent by post to the Registrant on 5 March 2018 to his registered address. Good service of a hearing notice may be effected by post. The Panel was satisfied that proper notice of the hearing has been given to the Registrant.
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
2. The Registrant did not attend the hearing but his Counsel, Mr Strobl, attended on his behalf. On 26 March 2018 the Registrant sent an email to the HCPTS to say that he would not be attending the hearing because he had a medical appointment and that his “legal team” would be representing him at the hearing. There is a statutory obligation to hold review hearings such as these within time limits. This order has to be reviewed by 9 May 2018. The Panel was satisfied that it was appropriate to proceed, given the attendance of Mr Strobl.
3. The Registrant is a Biomedical Scientist. He attended the hearing in April 2017. The events that led to the finding of impairment occurred on 3 June 2015. The particulars of the Allegation above show the nature of the Registrant’s failings.
4. The Panel sitting in April 2017 (“the original Panel”) noted that:
(i) with regard to Particular 1 a) that the Registrant had made a decision to press the stop button because he believed that it would save time;
(ii) with regard to Particular 1 b) the Registrant maintained that he completely forgot about this requirement when he was required to carry out another urgent task. He then did not remember that the cuvette wash had not been carried out until the next morning when a colleague asked him about pressing the stop button.
5. In making its decision in April 2017 the original Panel identified certain mitigating and aggravating features:
• the Registrant’s full engagement in the HCPTS process;
• the Registrant’s admission of the facts, admission of misconduct, and expression of remorse;
• an isolated incident;
• the Registrant’s otherwise unblemished career;
• two positive testimonials.
• the Registrant’s limited insight;
• the limited breadth of the Registrant’s reflection;
• the lack of remedial action;
• the potential for repetition.
6. The original Panel had been told that the Registrant’s line manager wished to continue to support the Registrant in remaining in employment if that was practicable. The original Panel formed the view that: “A condition which required the Registrant to make arrangements for a workplace supervisor to oversee the preparation of a Personal Development Plan was likely to be workable” and the original Panel noted that “The Registrant confirmed that he was willing to comply with conditions of practice”.
7. The Conditions of Practice imposed were:
1. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor registered by the HCPC and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within one month of the Operative Date.
2. You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practice:
• adherence to SOPs;
• improving time management skills;
• dealing with stressful workloads.
3. Within three months of the Operative Date you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.
4. Within your PDP you must:
a) write a written plan demonstrating how you intend to approach, address and prioritise in future situations when you are faced with risks arising from competing workplace demands and pressures;
b) write a reflective piece considering the Panel’s findings and demonstrating understanding of the importance of adhering to SOPs and forward a copy of the reflective piece to the HCPC as evidence of its completion; and
c) satisfactorily complete a stress management course and a time management course and forward a copy of your results and/or evidence of completion of the courses to the HCPC.
5. You must meet with your supervisor on a minimum three monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
6. You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
7. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your current employer or take up any other or further employment.
8. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.
9. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
a) any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;
b) any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and
c) any prospective employer (at the time of your application).
10. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with these conditions.
8. The original panel expressed the opinion that a review Panel may be assisted by “testimonials providing an update to the review Panel on the Registrant’s work over the 12 month period covered by the Order”.
9. On 8 June 2017 the Registrant emailed to the HCPTS to give the name of the person (“SN”) who would act as his workplace supervisor and to say that the “schedule” would be forwarded to the HCPTS “at a later date”.
10. On 16 July 2017 the Registrant emailed to the HCPTS to say that the “plan of action” was still being worked out and would be forwarded.
11. In a letter dated 28 November 2017 addressed to the HCPTS, the Pathology General Manager (“JA”) at a NHS Trust expressed concerns on behalf of himself and SN as to the Registrant’s “behaviour and perceived lack of insight into his behaviour”.
The letter went on to say:
“[The Registrant] as far as we are aware has, six months into the order, made no progress with complying with any of the conditions imposed. I appreciate that he has been on sick leave, detailed below in Appx 2, for most of this time however he has had little discussion with his manager around his PDP”.
12. On behalf of the HCPC, Miss Carson submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired. It was accepted there was information which showed the Registrant had experienced health issues. But regardless of that factor there had been only limited engagement on the part of the Registrant and, in part, that had been prompted by contact from the HCPC. Furthermore, the Registrant had not been fully compliant with the Conditions. There was no reflective piece from him and nothing from him which showed how he would deal with stress in the future. However, Ms Carson acknowledged that the Registrant had fully complied with Condition 1 and there was some information to support his compliance with Condition 4(c). Overall, the view of the HCPC was that there was a lack of insight and recognition on the part of the Registrant such that his fitness to practice remained impaired and that the current Conditions of Practice Order should be extended for a further year.
13. On behalf of the Registrant, Mr Strobl submitted that the main focus of the Panel should be on what was said by the Panel sitting in April 2017 as that was set out in Para 41 of the original Decision. The Panel was asked to accept that the Registrant had commenced compliance with the conditions. It was accepted that the conditions had not been complied with in full but the Panel was asked to accept that the cause for that was the Registrant’s health rather than a disregard by him of the conditions. He had had an extended sickness absence from work and as a result had not been at work long enough to comply with the conditions. The Panel was asked to extend the current order for 12 months in the hope that the Registrant’s health would improve and that he could then comply with the conditions.
14. The essential task for this Panel is to make an assessment as to whether the Registrant’s fitness to practice is currently impaired. The fact is that the Registrant has not complied with the conditions previously imposed. Since the Order was imposed in April 2017 the Registrant has missed more than 140 days of work by reason of illness. There remains a considerable lack of insight and remediation on the part of the Registrant such that his fitness to practice remains impaired.
15. The Registrant remains in the employment of the same employer. The Panel has received some additional information from that employer which expresses continuing concern regarding the Registrant’s work performance. Some of this related to an allegation that pre-dated the substantive hearing. It did not appear to the Panel to be relevant at this stage to the task of assessing the Registrant’s fitness to practise. The Panel therefore did not place any weight on this material.
16. The Panel has also received some anonymised information which apparently has been put forward in support of the Registrant’s position. The Panel has decided to place no weight on any of that material because it would not be fair or relevant to do so. The persons providing the information have not attended to give evidence and open themselves to questioning. Furthermore, the information appeared to the Panel to concern employment rather than fitness to practise matters. Neither party asked the Panel to place significant weight on the material.
17. The Panel expresses some concern regarding the manner in which the Registrant has sought to comply with conditions relating to training. He has provided what appear to be screenshots of training progress but those screenshots do not appear to show the name of the Registrant, the date of the training or the syllabus that the training is intended to cover.
18. The Panel has been provided with an account in general terms of periods of absence from work by reason of illness. However, if at any future review the position is that the Registrant maintains he was prevented by illness from complying with conditions that position should be confirmed by a medical opinion.
19. Having found that fitness to practice remains impaired the Panel has considered an appropriate Order. The Panel is satisfied that an Order is necessary. The background concerns were too serious to warrant a less intrusive order than Conditions of Practice.
20. The Panel gives some credit to the Registrant for his limited compliance with the conditions. He did promptly notify the HCPC of the proposed supervisor. He belatedly complied, in part, with condition 4 (c). But he has substantially failed to comply with the conditions.
21. The Panel is satisfied that the proportionate and necessary step is to extend the current Conditions of Practice Order for a further 12 month period. Given the position taken by the HCPC in seeking such a further order and given the Registrant’s partial progress towards complying with the conditions, the Panel is satisfied that to impose a Suspension Order would not be proportionate.
22. A future reviewing panel may also be assisted by testimonials on the Registrant’s work over the 12 month period covered by the Order.
History of Hearings for Mr Ian A Rees
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