Stephen B Wilson

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS35080

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 16/08/2018 End: 16:00 16/08/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

1. On 8 September 2017 at Dundee Sheriff Court you were convicted of: Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit in contravention of the Road Traffic Act 1988 sS{l){a)

2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proof of Service

1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been sent in a letter, by first class post on 14 June 2018, to the address shown for the Registrant on the HCPC Register.  The Notice of Hearing was also sent to the Registrant by email on the same date. The Panel was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules.

Proceeding in Absence

2. Ms Wills, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant under Rule 11 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules.

3. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor and accepted that advice. The Panel also took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel determined that it was fair and reasonable to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant for the following reasons:

a) On 17 January 2018 a panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in relation to the Registrant’s conviction for ‘driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit.’ The Registrant was sent a Response Proforma following service of a notice of the Allegation. On the form in response to the questions, ‘Do you intend to appear in person at the hearing?’ and ‘Do you intend to be represented at the hearing?’ the Registrant had answered, ‘No’. The form was dated 11 February 2018 and signed by the Registrant. The Registrant did not respond to the Notice of Hearing directly but he did sign a Voluntary Removal Agreement and in a telephone call with the HCPC on 31 July 2018 he was informed ‘that he will be updated with the outcome of the hearing’ which suggests that the Registrant anticipated that the hearing would proceed in his absence. In these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s absence was deliberate and voluntary and demonstrated that he had waived his right to attend and his right to be represented.

b) The Registrant has not made an application to adjourn and there is no indication that if the case were to be adjourned that he would attend on any future date.

c) There is no disadvantage to the Registrant as he has made it clear in his communications with the HCPC that he wishes to be removed from the Register.

d) It was in the public interest and in the Registrant’s own interests that this hearing commences and proceeds expeditiously.


Background

5. The Registrant is a registered Biomedical Scientist. He commenced employment with NHS Tayside on 3 April 2006.

6. On 21 June 2017, the HCPC received a referral from NHS Tayside. The referral stated that on 5 February 2017, the Registrant had a road traffic accident whilst on his way to an on-call overnight shift. The Registrant informed NHS Tayside that he had been breathalysed by the police at the scene of the accident and was found to be over the legal alcohol limit.

7. The Trust referred the Registrant to Occupational Health. A report was produced by Occupational Health. However, as the Registrant was due to retire no further steps were taken. NHS Tayside decided that the Registrant should not return to work before his retirement on 31 May 2017.

8. On 6 October 2017, the HCPC received a Certificate of Conviction which confirmed that the Registrant was convicted of an offence under s5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 on 8 September 2017 at Dundee Sheriff Court. The certificate also confirmed that the Registrant was sentenced by way of a fine in the sum of £1500 and disqualified from driving for 21 months.

9. On 17 January 2018 a panel of the Investigating Committee found that there was a case to answer in respect of the following Allegation:

1. On 8 September 2017 at Dundee Sheriff Court you were convicted of: Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above prescribed limit in contravention of the Road Traffice Act 1988 s5(1)(a); and

2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Biomedical Scientist is impaired.

10. In an email dated 29 January 2018 the Registrant indicated that he would like the case to be disposed of by way of a voluntary removal as he had retired from the profession and has no intention of returning to practise. The Registrant subsequently completed a Response Proforma, dated 11 February 2018, in which he admitted the facts as set out in the Allegation.

11. The Registrant and an HCPC representative signed a Voluntary Removal Agreement dated 2 July 2018.  


Submissions

12. Ms Wills, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that the Voluntary Removal Agreement is an appropriate means of resolving the case against the Registrant. She submitted that voluntary removal is equivalent to a Striking Off Order and would therefore ensure public protection and maintain public confidence in the profession. She further submitted that voluntary removal would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

13. Although there were no written submissions from the Registrant, the Panel took into account the communication between the HCPC and the Registrant which included an email from the Registrant dated 25 January 2018 in which he stated, ‘As I have now retired and have no intention of returning to the profession…I would like to consent to removing myself from the register as I feel that I canot refute the allegations againdt me. [sic]’  The Panel also took into account the signed agreement itself which confirmed that the Registrant admitted the HCPC’s Allegation in its entirety.


Decision

14. Prior to reaching a decision on the application for voluntary removal from the Register, the Panel carefully considered all of the information and evidence before it, including the documents relating to NHS Tayside’s investigation, the Registrant’s early retirement and the terms of the Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Panel also took into account the oral submissions made by Ms Wills and the correspondence between the HCPC and the Registrant.

15. On the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel considered the criteria for voluntary removal. The Panel noted that Article 11(3) of the 2001 Order and Rule 12(3) of the HCPC Rules, prevent a Registrant from seeking to resign from the Register whilst subject to an Allegation, a Conditions of Practice Order or a Suspension Order. The Panel also took into account the guidance contained within the HCPC Practice Note  “Disposal of Cases By Consent”, which in respect of Voluntary Removal states that:

“In cases where the HCPC is satisfied that it would be adequately protecting the public if the Registrant was permitted to resign from the Register it may enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement allowing the registrant to do so, but on similar terms to those which would apply if the registrant had been struck off.”

16. The Practice Note also states that one of the key criteria for considering a disposal by consent is whether:

“any remedial action proposed by the registrant and to be embodied in the Consent Order is consistent with the expected outcome if the case was to proceed to a contested hearing.”

17. The Panel noted that a panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a ‘case to answer’ and that the Registrant had fully admitted the Allegation. The Panel also noted that as the Voluntary Removal Agreement mirrors the terms of a Striking Off Order, it would prevent the Registrant from practising as a Biomedical Scientist, using any title associated with that profession and would prevent him from making an application to be re-admitted to the Register within 5 years.

18. Although the Panel noted that the Registrant’s conviction may not have resulted in a Striking Off Order, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s circumstances met the underlying purpose of removal by consent, which is to avoid unnecessary substantive hearings.

19. The Panel then went on to consider whether acceptance of the Voluntary Removal Agreement would provide adequate public protection and whether it would be detrimental to the wider public interest. The Panel noted that if it was not satisfied that removal would adequately protect the public interest, the proposed voluntary agreement would have to be rejected, which would mean that the case will proceed towards a substantive hearing before a differently constituted panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee. The Panel also considered the Registrant’s own interests.

20. The Panel noted that the Registrant has made it clear that he has retired from practise and has no intention of practicing as a Biomedical Scientist in the future. Furthermore, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is fully aware of the consequences of voluntary removal and has willingly entered into an agreement with the HCPC. 

21. Based on the documentary evidence and the full admissions made by the Registrant, the Panel was satisfied that the particulars of the Allegation were capable of being found proved on the balance of probabilities. The Panel took into account the nature and gravity of the Registrant’s criminal conviction and was satisfied that these factors would have supported a finding of current impairment of fitness to practise. In addition, the Panel noted that the Registrant’s ongoing health issues and as a consequence a return to practise was unlikely.

22. In considering whether removal of the Registrant’s name from the Register was proportionate the Panel noted that his conviction for a serious offence had the potential damage to the reputation of the profession and was likely to undermine public trust and confidence in the profession. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that approval of the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement is both proportionate and appropriate. The Panel also determined that there is a legitimate public interest in avoiding a substantive hearing where full admissions have been made as to the facts and grounds, and where the Registrant has expressed a clear desire to be removed from the Register. 

23. Therefore, the Panel consented to the Voluntary Removal Agreement and was satisfied that the professional disciplinary proceedings should be withdrawn.

Order

The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Stephen B Wilson from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Stephen B Wilson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed