Mr Michael Mckechnie
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1) On 08 April 2014 AT Hamilton Justice of the Peace Court you were convicted of:
a. Threatening or abusive behaviour (domestic, child)
b. Assault to injury (child)
c. Assault to injury (domestic)
2) By reason of that conviction your fitness to practise as an Operating Department Practitioner is impaired.
On 1 July 2015 at Hamilton Sheriff Court you were convicted of:
1. Stalking contrary to s.39(1) Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.
2. By reason of your conviction as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as an Operating Department Practitioner is impaired.
Service and proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
1. The HCPC was represented by Mr Sebastian Harrison. 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 also had sight of a note of a telephone call with the Registrant dated 29 October 2018 in which he confirmed that he would not be attending today’s hearing. The Panel thereafter considered Mr Harrison’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 declined the offer of participating in the hearing by telephone and has not asked for an adjournment of today’s hearing and the Panel has no reason to believe that he would attend at a future date if the matter were adjourned. The Registrant has also produced information on his current circumstances to assist the Panel. The Panel has therefore concluded that in all of these circumstances it is both in the Registrant’s interest and in the public interest to proceed with this mandatory review in the Registrant’s absence
Application for parts of the hearing to be in private
3. Mr Harrison applied for any evidence in respect of the Registrant’s health to be taken in private in terms of Rule 10(1)(a) of the Conduct and Competence Procedure Rules 2003. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and considered the Practice Note on Conducting Hearings in Private. The Panel concluded that the right of the Registrant to protection of his private life and confidentiality of his health issues outweighed the general presumption of hearings being conducted in public and agreed that such evidence would be taken in private.
4. On 18 November 2016 a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of four convictions as follows: Threatening or Abusive Behaviour (domestic, child), Assault to Injury (child), Assault to Injury (domestic) and Stalking contrary to Section 39(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. That Panel imposed a twelve month Suspension Order. The Panel today is conducting a review of that suspension order in terms of Article 30(1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.
5. The Panel heard from Mr Harrison who referred to the background of the case and the circumstances which led to the imposition of the Suspension Order. The Registrant worked as an Operating Department Practitioner and was based at the Victoria infirmary and that he returned to work on 12 May 2014 following an investigation in respect of an unrelated matter. Following his return to work, the Registrant was asked to complete a Protecting Vulnerable Groups application form in line with the ongoing program of retrospective checking of existing staff members within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. After receiving this form, the Registrant informed his line manager that he was unsure of how to complete the form as he had a conviction for assault in relation to an incident in January 2014.
6. It was subsequently ascertained that the Registrant had been convicted at Hamilton Sheriff Court on 8 April 2014 as follows:
a. Threatening or abusive behaviour (domestic, child)
b. Assault to injury (child)
c. Assault (domestic)
7. On 2 May 2014, the Registrant received a community payback order with the addition of a supervision period of 12 months in addition to all three offences. The matter was thereafter reported to the HCPC. On 6 April 2015, the Registrant was arrested and interviewed by police as he had been accused of harassing Person X. The harassment consisted of the Registrant telephoning Person X on her mobile telephone and on her landline telephone, contacting her and her family members by telephone, sending text messages and contacting her via Facebook.
8. The police checked Person X’s landline telephone log and the Registrant had telephoned her on nine occasions on 5 April 2015 and 137 occasions on 6 April 2015. On 1 July 2015, the Registrant was convicted of the following offence:
Stalking, contrary to section 39(1) Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. The Registrant was sentenced on 10 August 2015 at Hamilton Sheriff Court to an unpaid work order of 100 hours to be completed within six months, and subject to a non-harassment order for two years against Person X starting on 10 August 2015.
9. Mr Harrison advised the Panel that the HCPC was of the view that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired and his submission was that a Strike Off Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction, given the lack of remediation and very limited engagement. He advised that the previous Panel had provided clear guidance as to what may assist this Panel and the Registrant had failed to address any of the issues. He advised that there was little prospect of the Registrant engaging and that he appeared to be unable to resolve his failings.
10. The Panel noted from the record of the Registrant’s telephone call that nothing had changed since the last hearing with regards to the Registrant trying to get back to practice. He had initially applied for a Band 5 role as an ODP as he misunderstood the position and did not realise that he could not do so while he was suspended. He had subsequently applied for a Band 2 role as Health Care Assistant and had been unsuccessful. He is still currently volunteering at a charity but did not want to provide a reference at this time. When asked if he had maintained his CPD and/or skills, he advised that he had done “nothing formal”. He is still seeing his doctor in relation to his health issues.
11. The task of the Panel today is not to go behind the decision of the previous Panel but to determine whether or not the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and if there is current impairment, what, if any, order should be made when the current order expires. The Panel has considered the submissions of Mr Harrison and the information from the Registrant together with the advice of the Legal Assessor. The original Panel found that the Registrant had displayed a degree of insight by virtue of his guilty plea. However that Panel was of the view that the Registrant’s convictions for assault and threatening or abusive behaviour demonstrated that he was capable of behaviour which was completely out of control and although this behaviour did not occur in a professional setting, lead the Panel to have concerns about the potential risk to vulnerable patients in his care. In addition, that Panel has not seen any evidence of remorse or remediation.
12. The previous Panel was encouraged by the Registrant’s meaningful engagement with the regulatory process and by the steps taken by him to address the underlying factors which led to his convictions. That Panel was also of the view that the Registrant has demonstrated his commitment to helping people by his voluntary work. However the Panel was of the view that while he had begun to address his issues and acknowledged the impact of his conduct on his profession, he still had to take further steps to fully remediate his conduct. That Panel suggested that a future Panel may be assisted by references from staff who are in a management/supervisory capacity at the charity where he volunteers; a report from his doctor; Evidence as to how he has updated his CPD, e.g. any courses he has attended or educational material he has read and evidence of any type of work in a health care setting.
13. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired. The previous Panel found that the Registrant had not fully remediated his failings. There is no evidence before the Panel today in relation to remediation and the Registrant has not complied with any of the suggestions made by the previous Panel. The Panel agrees with the finding of the previous Panel as to the lack of remediation and is of the view that there is a risk of repetition. The Panel has therefore concluded that his fitness to practise remains impaired, both on the personal element and the wider public component, taking account of the seriousness of the criminal charges, which include domestic assault, assault on a child and stalking. The Panel has therefore concluded that an order remains necessary.
14. The Panel next considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity. The Panel is aware that the primary function of any sanction is to address public safety from the perspective of 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.
15. The Panel considered that to impose a Caution would not be sufficient to address the wider public interest considerations or to protect the public, in the absence of independent verification of the Registrant’s current circumstances and given the risk of repetition identified by the previous Panel. The Panel also considered that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate as the Registrant is not currently employed as an ODP.
16. The Panel next considered extending the current Suspension Order. The Panel is satisfied that this would achieve the necessary degree of public protection. However in the absence of engagement by the Registrant and evidence of any steps taken to address his conduct, despite clear guidance by the pervious Panel, this Panel is of the view that the Registrant appears to be unable or unwilling to resolve his issues. In these circumstances it is of the view that extending the current Suspension Order would not be appropriate or proportionate.
17. The Panel next considered a Striking-Off Order. The Panel has concluded that this would be an appropriate sanction in circumstances where the Registrant appears to be either unable or unwilling to address matters, having been given opportunities to do so and having been provided with detailed guidance by the previous Panel. The Panel has concluded that this would be a proportionate sanction in all the circumstances.
The Panel directs the Registrar to strike the name of Mr Michael McKechnie from the Register on expiry of the current order in terms of Article 30(1)(b) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.
No notes available