Mr Jonathan Parish

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT17193

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 06/11/2018 End: 00:00 06/11/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

Allegation:

During the course of your employment as an Occupational Therapist at Bournemouth Borough Council:
1) On or around 6 September 2016, you attended work while under the influence of alcohol and / or consumed alcohol at work.
2) Your actions as described in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct.
3) By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Notice of Hearing

1. The Panel was advised by the Hearings Officer that notice of this hearing was sent by post and email to the Registrant on 1 October. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been given good notice of this hearing in accordance with Rules 3 and 6 of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 ("the Rules").

Proceeding in Absence

2. Ms Senior invited the Panel to proceed to hear this Article 30 review in the absence of the Registrant. She directed the Panel's attention to a telephone file note which detailed a telephone conversation between Ms Senior and the Registrant on 5 November 2018. The registrant had explained that he was not able to attend the hearing as he had arranged two job interviews for the day of the hearing. He did not want to seek an adjournment and was happy for hearing to proceed without him. Mr Parish had stated that he believed he had submitted the necessary documents for the Panel to consider.

3. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily decided not to attend this hearing and that, in the circumstances, an adjournment would be unlikely to secure his attendance at a future date, or serve any useful purpose.  The Panel had regard to the general public interest in the expeditious disposal of a hearing without unnecessary delay, particularly when the hearing is to review a restriction on an ability to practise and when that restriction was shortly to expire. The Panel concluded that in all the circumstances it would be fair and reasonable to proceed in his absence. To do otherwise would fly in the face of the efficient despatch of these regulatory proceedings.

Proceeding in private

4. Ms Senior invited the Panel to hear part of the hearing in private, where the evidence relates to the health of the Registrant. In the absence of any submission on the issue from the Registrant, the Panel noted that he had supported a similar application at the substantive hearing in February 2018. The Panel decided that the hearing should be held partly in private under Rule 10(1)(a) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”), insofar as matters were raised which concerned the health and other aspects of the private life of the Registrant.

Background

5. The Registrant is an Occupational Therapist who was at the time of the matters giving rise to these proceedings employed by Bournemouth Borough Council as a Practice Manager.

6. On 6 February 2018, a panel of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee  ("the substantive hearing panel") found the Registrant’s fitness to practice to be impaired on grounds of misconduct arising from the following charge that they had found proved:

"During the course of your employment as an Occupational Therapist at Bournemouth Borough Counsel:

1) On or around 6 September 2016, you attended work while under the influence of alcohol and/or consumed alcohol at work..."

7. In its decision the substantive hearing panel acknowledged that the Registrant had accepted in evidence that a member of the public would regard his behaviour as "scandalous." In its judgement, both attending work whilst under the influence of alcohol, and consuming alcohol at work, were matters that amounted to misconduct in that it was behaviour that fell seriously below the standards expected of an Occupational Therapist and could be described as deplorable.

8. The substantive hearing panel concluded that the Registrant's behaviour was capable of remediation but had not been remediating it. It found that this was demonstrated by his denial that he had consumed alcohol at work and his failure to be candid on the issue of his alcohol intake on the evening of 5 September 2016 until pressed in cross examination. The substantive hearing panel considered that the Registrant had demonstrated minimal awareness of the relevance of his alcohol intake in the course of his evidence, and it noted that he had not engaged with either his employer or his GP in relation to his alcohol problem.

9. The substantive hearing panel found that the Registrant's actions had created a risk of harm, in that his job placed in a position of responsibility in the screening of information and the making of decisions based on that information, together with overall responsibility for a team. In light of the finding of limited insight, it found there remained a risk of repetition if the Registrant was allowed to practice unrestricted. It was further satisfied that the Registrant's behaviour represented a breach of a fundamental tenet of his profession, and that there would be a serious adverse effect upon both the reputation of the profession and the HCPC if a finding of impairment was not made.

10. Having found the Registrant's fitness to practice impaired, the substantive hearing panel went on to consider the issue of sanction.

11. The following mitigating factors were identified:

• There were no other adverse findings to the Registrant's name

• The Registrant had an established career history

• The Registrant had provided numerous positive testimonials, albeit that only two covered the issue of alcohol, and none referenced the FTP hearing

• This was to be regarded as an isolated event

• The registrant had admitted part of the allegation

• The Registrant had admitted to being an alcoholic

12. The following aggravating factors were identified:

• The Registrant's misconduct had the potential to cause harm

• The Registrant had limited insight

• There was a risk that the Registrant would repeat his misconduct

• The Registrant has admitted that he had driven to and from his place of work on the day in question whilst under the influence of alcohol

13. The substantive hearing panel concluded that no sanction short of a Conditions of Practice Order would be sufficient to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession and uphold standards. The panel was satisfied that the Registrant was capable of practising safely and effectively if restrictions were put in place. The Registrant had engaged with the HCPC proceedings and that this provided a reassurance that he would make the required effort to comply with the following conditions:

1. You must make arrangements for the testing of your blood, for the recent ingestion of alcohol every month, the first test is to be carried out on or before 8 March 2018 and thereafter on a monthly basis. You must provide to the HCPC details of the testing arrangements and forward copies of the test results to the HCPC within one week of them being received by you.

2. You must engage in a support programme or process, which enables you to develop a greater understanding and awareness of your relationship with alcohol. You must provide the HCPC with evidence of your attendance at such meetings.

3. You must abstain absolutely from the consumption of alcohol.

4. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any employment for which you require your registration.

5. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.

6. 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).

7. You must provide the HCPC in advance of the review hearing with a written reflection to demonstrate better insight into the issues which brought you before this panel.

8. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.

14. The Substantive hearing panel imposed the Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 9 months, considering that would give him sufficient time to meet and comply with the conditions and to find a support group would be assisted if the Registrant were to produce evidence of how he has maintained his professional development.

This Hearing

15. This is the first review of the Conditions of Practice Order imposed by the Conduct and Competence Panel on 6 February 2018.

16. At the outset of the hearing, Ms Senior outlined the background of the case. The Registrant had provided the panel with it with  three documents; an extract from his GP notes between 12 February 2018 and 8 October 2018; a reflective document and a letter from a facilitator at a group sessions attended by the Registrant since the Conditions of Practice Order was imposed.

17. Ms Senior reminded the Panel that the question of whether the Registrant's fitness to practise remained impaired was a matter for its independent judgement, but she stated that the HCPC adopted a neutral stance. Ms Senior submitted that arguably the Registrant had not complied with Condition 1 of the Order, in that the evidence of blood testing provided by the Registrant was neither monthly nor specifically addressing the recent ingestion of alcohol by him. However, she acknowledged on behalf of the HCPC that such medical evidence as had been provided, together with the letter from the group sessions facilitator, provided some support for the Registrant's contention that he had abstained from alcohol since the substantive hearing. Ms Senior further submitted that the Registrant's reflective piece demonstrated a level of insight hitherto found to be lacking.

18. Ms Senior submitted that if the Panel found the Registrant's fitness to practice to be impaired, it may wish to consider an extension of the existing Conditions of Practice Order, with perhaps some variation to reflect the progress made by the Registrant in respect of the existing conditions 2 and 7.

Decision

19. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Review of Article 30 sanction Orders””. It is carrying out a comprehensive reconsideration of the Conditions of Practice Order in light of the current circumstances. The Legal Assessor advised that in practical terms there was a persuasive burden on the Registrant to show that his fitness to practise is no longer impaired and that all the shortcomings which led to the original finding of impairment have now been overcome. The Panel was aware that the issue of impairment is a matter for its own professional judgment. The Panel was advised that if it was to decide that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continued to be impaired, it should decide how to exercise its powers under Art. 30(1) of the 2001 Order. 

20. The misconduct found proved at the substantive hearing was serious for all of the reasons set out by the substantive hearing panel, this Panel agreed with those reasons and adopted them. It has never been suggested by the Registrant that his conduct amounted to anything other than misconduct. 

21. The Panel first considered the evidence put before it by the Registrant of steps taken to address his misconduct and the health issue giving rise to it.  It was encouraged by the reflective piece prepared by the Registrant, finding it to demonstrate meaningful reflection into his misconduct and the development of insight that was found to be absent at the time of the substantive hearing. The Panel was also impressed by the commitment that the Registrant has shown to his group session recovery work. However, the Panel was concerned by the non-compliance with Condition 1 of the Order; it considered that forensic evidence to support the Registrant's progress and remediation was at the heart of the Order imposed by the substantive hearing panel.  The medical evidence provided within the extract from the GP records was not targeted to address the specific issue of the Registrant's ingestion of alcohol and appeared to the Panel to be addressing another health issue. In the absence of clear forensic evidence to
support the Registrant's contention as to his remediation, the Panel found that the Registrant had not discharged the evidential burden of demonstrating that his fitness to practice was no longer impaired. The Panel could not safely exclude the risk of repetition.

22. The Panel also considered the wider public interest in the case. In the absence of clearly demonstrated remediation, members of the public would be concerned if such a Registrant was able to practice without restriction. In those circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the need to uphold confidence in the profession and the regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

23. The Panel next considered the issue of sanction, and had in mind the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel was aware that sanction is a matter for its own professional judgement.

24. The Panel first considered a Caution Order and decided that this would not be appropriate because it would not place any actual restriction on the Registrant’s practice, which would address the public protection concerns. Further, the Panel was of the view that the misconduct found proved was too serious and that the public interest would not be served by such a sanction.

25. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. It considered that a further period of conditions is required to enable the Registrant to demonstrate that he is able safely to return to work. The Panel therefore determined to impose a varied Conditions of Practice for a further period of 3 months, to take effect from the date of expiry of the current Conditions of Practice Order. The terms of this varied Conditions of Practice Order are set out below.

26. The Panel did go on to carefully consider a Suspension Order but was of the view that this would be disproportionate at this stage given the registrant’s willingness to engage with the HCPC, and his expressed commitment to return to practice. The Panel was satisfied that the period of 3 months was proportionate in that it would afford the Registrant the shortest opportunity to provide the cogent forensic evidence required by the Panel to support his remediation.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the HCPC Register to show that for a period of 3 months from the date that this Order takes effect, being 6 December 2018 (“the Operative Date”), you, Jonathan D Parish must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. Within 28 days of today you must make arrangements with an accredited company that will take a sample of your hair to be tested for the ingestion of alcohol. You should provide a report on the test results to the HCPC not later than 14 days prior to the next review hearing. 

2. You must continue to engage in a support programme or process, which enables you to develop a greater understanding and awareness of your relationship with alcohol. You must provide the HCPC with updated evidence of your progress not later than 14 days prior to the next review hearing. 

3. You must abstain absolutely from the consumption of alcohol.

4. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any employment for which you require your registration.

5. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.

6. 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).

7. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Jonathan Parish

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
04/02/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
06/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
05/02/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice