Mr John T Gibson
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Whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner, you:
1. On 23 February 2017, were convicted at Edinburgh High Court of offences contrary to:
a. Section 39(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010;
b. Section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009;
c. Section 39(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010;
d. Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.
2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1 a) to d) your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The case for the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (the “HCPTS”) was presented by Ms Kathryn Sheridan of Kingsley Napley. The Registrant was not present or represented.
2. The Panel was satisfied that notice of today’s hearing had been properly served on the Registrant in terms of rules 3 and 6 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules. The Panel has been advised that the Registrant is currently serving a custodial sentence in Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP), Edinburgh and that notice of today’s hearing was served on his registered address and at HMP Prison, Edinburgh. The Panel has also been advised that the Registrant was reminded by letter on two occasions that he could apply to participate in the hearing by way of telephone or video link and that he did not respond to that correspondence. The Panel thereafter considered Ms Sheridan’s application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel is aware that the discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Registrant has not responded to the HCPC since notice of the hearing was served on him and has not asked for an adjournment of today’s hearing. The Panel has no reason to believe that he would attend at a future date if the matter were adjourned. The Panel has therefore concluded that in all of these circumstances it is in the public interest to proceed with this hearing in the Registrant’s absence.
3. The Registrant is an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) registered with the HCPC. On 12 October 2015, he informed HCPC by email that he had been accused of committing the offence of rape. On 23 February 2017, he was convicted, following trial, at Edinburgh High Court of one count of rape, two counts of stalking and one count of breach of the peace. On 28 March 2017 at Edinburgh High Court, he was sentenced to a total of seven years in custody. In addition, he is to remain on the Sex Offender’s Register for an indefinite period.
Decision on Facts and Grounds
4. The Panel considered the submissions by Ms Sheridan and the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel also had sight of the extract of conviction signed by an Officer of the Court and accepted this as proof of the conviction and of the findings of fact upon which it was based in terms of rule 10(1)(d) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the facts and grounds have been proved.
Decision on Impairment
5. The Panel next considered whether the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired by his convictions. The Panel considered the submissions of Ms Sheridan, who drew the Panel’s attention to the Judge’s sentencing remarks in which he described the rape as “particularly violent, resulting in internal injuries and injuries to the victim’s wrist” and also described the Registrant’s actions as “despicable and very distressing”.
6. The Panel is aware that the question of impairment is a matter for its own professional judgement. In reaching its decision, the Panel has had regard to the conduct of the Registrant, the nature, circumstances and gravity of the offences and the critically important public policy issues, in particular the need to maintain confidence in the profession as well as declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour which the public expect.
7. The Panel has first considered the personal component of the Registrant’s conduct. The Panel has noted that he denied the offences and was convicted following trial. In addition, the Registrant will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely. Taking this into account and taking account of the very serious nature and gravity of the offences and the level of violence, the Panel is satisfied that there are concerns in relation to the personal component of the Registrant’s actions. In the Panel’s view, there is a risk to the public from a health professional who has been convicted offences of this nature.
8. In respect of the critically important public policy issues, the Registrant’s actions clearly bring the profession into disrepute and undermine public confidence in the profession. As an operating department practitioner, the Registrant works with vulnerable service users and is in a position of trust. His actions have very clearly undermined that trust. The Panel has concluded that given the nature and circumstances of the Registrant’s convictions, the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the particular circumstances. The Panel has therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired and the allegation is therefore well founded.
Decision on Sanction
9. The Panel has heard submissions from Ms Sheridan on the issue of sanction. The Panel has also accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.
10. The Panel is aware that the purpose of sanction is not to be punitive and that they must consider the risk the Registrant may pose to those using or needing his services in the future and determine what degree of public protection is required. The Panel must also give appropriate weight to the wider public interest which includes the deterrent effect on other registrants, the reputation of the profession and public confidence in the regulatory process.
11. The Panel can find no mitigating factors in this case. The Panel has considered the main aggravating factor which is the very serious and violent nature of the offences.
12. The Panel has considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity. The Panel considered that to take no action or to impose a caution would not be appropriate given the very serious nature of the convictions. The Panel has also considered that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate given the nature of the Registrant’s conduct and the fact that the conduct took place outside of a professional setting.
13. The Panel next considered a suspension order. In terms of the Indicative Sanctions Policy, a Suspension Order is appropriate where the Panel considers that a Caution Order or Conditions of Practice Order would provide insufficient public protection and where the allegation is of a serious nature but there is a realistic prospect that repetition will not occur. However, the Panel is aware that the Registrant is currently serving a seven year custodial sentence and will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for an indefinite period. While a Suspension Order would be sufficient to provide the necessary degree of public protection in that the Registrant would not able to practise during this period, the Panel is of the view that, given the nature of the convictions, a Suspension Order would not be sufficient to address the critically important public policy issues.
14. The Panel next considered a Striking Off Order. The Panel is of the view that the nature of the Registrant’s convictions are such that they are incompatible with ongoing registration in that members of the public would have serious concerns if a registered health professional who is in a position of trust were able to return to practise with convictions of this nature. The Panel has therefore concluded that given the nature and gravity of the convictions, a Striking Off Order is the only sanction which would adequately address the wider public interest considerations in terms of maintaining public confidence in the profession and declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct.
You may appeal to the appropriate court against the decision of the Panel and the order it has made against you. In this case the appropriate court is the Court of Session in Scotland, Under Articles 29 and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, an appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.
Application for Interim Order
The Panel has considered Ms Sheridan’s application for an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.
The Panel is of the view that given its findings in relation to the substantive matter, an Interim Suspension Order is necessary to protect members of the public and is otherwise in the public interest. This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.
History of Hearings for Mr John T Gibson
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|28/02/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Struck off|