Mr Kevin Waters

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA07423

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 03/12/2018 End: 17:00 05/12/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Paramedic and during the course of your employment at the London Ambulance Service:

1. On or around 3 April 2017 you:

a. Received an emergency call to Patient A and you:

i. Did not use appropriate visual and / or audible warning devices

ii. Drove the ambulance to Barnet Ambulance Station, rather than proceeding to Patient A

b. Exited the ambulance at Barnet Ambulance Station at approximately 11:58 and you did not rejoin the crew until after approximately 14:28

c. As a result of your actions described at paragraph 1(b), did not attend an emergency call to Patient B.

 d. Did not report as sick and/or unavailable whilst on duty

2. Your actions described at paragraph 1 constitute misconduct.

3. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service of Notice
1. The notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant at his address as it appeared in the register on 21 November 2018. The notice contained the date, time and venue of today’s hearing.

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and is satisfied that notice of today’s hearing has been served in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (the “Rules”).

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

3. The Panel then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules. In doing so, it considered the submissions of Ms Mond-Wedd on behalf of the HCPC, and the information received from the Registrant’s representative.

4. Ms Mond-Wedd submitted that the HCPC has taken all reasonable steps to serve the notice on the Registrant. Ms Mond-Wedd further submitted that the Registrant has fully engaged with the HCPC and has voluntarily absented himself because this hearing is convened to consider the disposal of this matter by way of a Consent Order, and that in the normal course of proceedings, his presence would not normally be required. She told the Panel that the Registrant has made himself available on telephone, should the Panel wish to ask him questions.

5. The Panel was told that the Registrant’s representative had been contacted today and they confirmed that the Registrant would not be attending this hearing and no disrespect is intended. They also confirmed that the Registrant is available on the telephone if the Panel wish to ask him any questions.

6. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It was clear, from the principles derived from case law, that the Panel was required to ensure that fairness and justice were maintained when deciding whether or not to proceed in a Registrant’s absence.

7. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing and that no disrespect is intended by his absence. The Panel noted from the evidence it hear, that the Registrant expected the hearing to proceed in his absence. Having weighed the public interest for expedition in cases and also the Registrant’s own interest, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

8. The Registrant is a registered paramedic. He self-referred these matters to the HCPC on 13 April 2017.

9. Whilst working for London Ambulance Service (“LAS”), the Registrant had delayed a response to a 999 emergency call out that had been accepted. Instead of driving immediately to Patient A’s house and activating the flashing blue lights and two-tone siren, the Registrant drove to Barnet Ambulance Station at normal road speed and without activating any of the emergency equipment. Upon arriving at Barnet Ambulance Station, the Registrant got out of the ambulance, and the remaining crew members then proceeded to respond to the call.

10. It was further alleged that the Registrant was absent from duty for over two hours when he met the remaining crew members at Barnet General Hospital. The Registrant told LAS that his absence was a result of him being unwell and suffering from embarrassing toilet issues. A further allegation was raised by LAS that the Registrant did not inform any staff members that he was sick or unavailable for duty during that time.

11. LAS undertook an investigation into the matters and a disciplinary hearing had been scheduled to take place on 11 August 2017. The Registrant resigned from his post on 8 August 2017, before that hearing took place.

12. On  12  January  2018,  a  Panel  of  the  Investigating  Committee  determined  that  there was a case to answer in respect of the allegation against the Registrant as set out above.

13. In response to the Notice of Allegation, the HCPC received the Registrant’s response to the allegations on 30 January 2018, in which the Registrant admits to the allegations in full.

14. On 22 August 2018, an email was received from the Registrant’s representative. The  email  outlined  that  the  Registrant  admits  the  allegations,  has  provided evidence of reflection and is willing to admit that his fitness to practise is impaired. On this basis, the Registrant’s representative requested that consideration be given for the case to be disposed of by consent, by way of a caution order.

15. Disposal by consent was considered fully by the HCPC and offered to the Registrant in an email to his representative on 8 October 2018.

Decision

16. In coming to its determination, the Panel considered all the evidence in this case together with the submissions made by Ms Mond-Wedd on behalf of the HCPC, and the signed written statement of the Registrant.

17. Ms Mond-Wedd submitted that this was a case that was suitable for disposal by way of consent and that the proposed sanction of a Caution Order for a period of three years was appropriate and just.

18. The Registrant, in his written reflection, stated that he fully accepted that his actions were unacceptable. He provided details of intermittent health issue at the time of this incident and accepted that he failed to activate the blue lights and two tone siren because he needed to go to the lavatory as a side-effect of the medication he was on. He accepted that he should have informed Control of his leaving the vehicle.

19. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It also took account of the HCPCT’s practice note ‘Disposing of Cases by Consent.’ The Panel reminded itself of its over-arching objective to protect the public and the wider public interest.

20. The Panel was satisfied that the HCPC’s case was well founded in the light of the evidence before it. Due to the fact that a response to an emergency call had been delayed by the Registrant’s actions, the Panel decided that this was sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct. The Panel determined that the Registrant has demonstrated insight and remediation and that the Registrant was unlikely to repeat the misconduct again. Taken in context, the Registrant’s misconduct was isolated, but it was serious enough that a finding on impairment was required to maintain public confidence in the profession, and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. This is because the response to an emergency had been delayed, albeit without serious consequences.

21. The Panel then considered what would be the likely range of sanctions that could be imposed in the light of the evidence in this case, and compared that with the proposed course indicated in the Consent Order. In doing so, the Panel took into consideration the following factors:
(a) the Registrant self-referred these matters to the HCPC;
(b) the Registrant has fully engaged with the HCPC and this process;
(c) the full admissions made by the Registrant;
(d) this was an isolated lapse of judgement;
(e) the admission by the Registrant that his actions amounted to misconduct, and that his fitness to practise is impaired by reason of that misconduct;
(f) the impressive references provided on his behalf. These include references from his colleagues, and his former commanding officer when he was in the military;
(g) the Registrant is of previous good character; and
(h) the level of insight and remediation demonstrated by the Registrant.

22. The Panel also took into account the following matters resulting from the facts accepted by both the HCPC and the Registrant:
(a) the ambulance was still operational after the Registrant left, as he was the third crew member, and an ambulance need only be manned by a double crew; and
(b) the Registrant had a medical issue that he felt required him to leave the ambulance immediately.

23. The Panel then considered whether a Caution Order was an appropriate and just sanction in this case. It bore in mind that a Caution Order would not restrict the Registrant’s right to practise. The Panel was satisfied that this matter was conduct that was out of character for the Registrant. The Panel was mindful of its finding that the Registrant has demonstrated insight, and remorse and provided evidence that he would not repeat his misconduct. The Panel’s decision will be published along with its finding of misconduct. The publication of a finding of misconduct in these proceedings is of itself quite a significant sanction. This is because misconduct in these proceedings carries a degree of moral opprobrium, and will have a detrimental effect on the Registrant’s professional reputation.

24. The Panel took into consideration the Indicative Sanctions Policy issued by the HCPC. This is not a case where Conditions of Practice would be appropriate because there are no identifiable areas of the Registrant’s practice as a Paramedic that require conditions to rectify. It also determined that in the circumstances of this case, a Suspension Order would neither be a just nor an appropriate sanction in this case as it would be excessive and punitive in nature.

25. In particular, the Panel noted paragraph 28 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy, which states:
A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action. A caution order should also be considered in cases where the nature of the allegation means that meaningful practice restrictions cannot be imposed but where the registrant has shown insight, the conduct concerned is out of character, the risk of repetition is low and thus suspension from practice would be disproportionate. A caution order is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where the registrant lacks insight.

26. The Panel determined that, in this case, the public interest would be met with the imposition of a Caution Order as a sanction. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations, would not be concerned if a Caution Order was imposed in these circumstances. A Caution Order is not an insignificant sanction. It will appear on the Registrant’s online register entry for the period specified. A Caution Order will appear with a link to the Panel’s decision for any prospective employer to access, and could be taken into account if any further allegation is made against the Registrant.

27. The Panel also noted that the starting duration for consideration of a Caution Order is three years. However, the Panel determined that, in light of the significant mitigating circumstance of a medical condition leading to the Registrant’s actions, and the other mitigating circumstances set out above, a period of 12 months was the appropriate duration of the Caution Order, and that a duration of three years would be disproportionate in the light of the nature and circumstances of this case.

28. In the circumstances, the Panel were satisfied that the terms of the Consent Order would:
(a) protect the public; and
(b) would not undermine public confidence in the profession or the regulatory process.

29. Notwithstanding the above, the Panel also considered whether this case was so serious that a public substantive hearing was necessary in the wider public interest. It determined that this case was not so serious as to make a public substantive hearing necessary.

30. The Panel was aware that the Consent Order sought was for the imposition of a Caution Order for a period of three years. In the circumstances, the Panel determined that a Consent Order that places a Caution against the Registrant’s name in the Register for a period of one year is a just and appropriate method of dealing with this case. Both the Registrant’s representative and the HCPC agreed to this.

31. The Panel therefore allows this matter to conclude by way of consensual disposal as set out in the terms of the Consent Order before it.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Kevin Waters with a Caution Order which is to remain on the register for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Kevin Waters

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/12/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution