Mr Ian A Rees

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS57222

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 09/04/2019 End: 17:00 09/04/2019

Location: Cardiff Marriott Hotel, Mill Lane, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, CF10 1EZ

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Biomedical Scientist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital from April 2005 to 22 March 2016:

 

1. On 3 June 2015;

 

a) You inappropriately activated the stop button on an Abbott Hot Cell Analyser to top up reagents;

 

b) You did not follow the cuvette wash procedure once the stop had been activated;

 

2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

3. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Proceeding in private

1. The Panel heard that matters relating to the Registrant’s health were to be discussed as part of this review. Ms Iskander submitted that it was appropriate that parts of the hearing be held in private where the Registrant’s health was to be discussed. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and it noted Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Procedure Rules 2003 (“Procedural Rules”) whereby matters pertaining to the health and private life of the Registrant should be heard in private. The Panel agreed the parts of the hearing, where reference was to be made to the Registrant’s health, should be heard in private.

Background:

2. The Registrant is a Biomedical Scientist who was employed in a Band 6 role at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. The Registrant was fully trained in the operation of the Abbott Hot Cell Analyser, a machine that carries out the chemical processing of blood samples. The Registrant was aware of, and understood, the Hospital’s relevant Standard Operating Procedures.

3. On 3 June 2015 the Registrant was working alongside another Biomedical Scientist and a trainee Biomedical Scientist. It was a busy shift and there was pressure to process the samples that day. The reagents for the Analyser were low and needed to be topped up. The Registrant pressed the STOP button on the Analyser. The correct procedure should have been to press the PAUSE button. The Registrant failed to run the cuvette wash procedure. This is a procedure that must be undertaken when the STOP button is pressed to prevent contamination of samples.

4. At the final hearing the Registrant admitted the factual particulars and that panel heard evidence as to the event in question. That panel determined that the Registrant had been rushing due to the pressure to complete the work. As a result he made the two decisions, which were intended to save time, but were contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure.

5. That panel also determined that no significant harm was caused by the Registrant’s conduct because the error was identified. However a further blood sample had to be taken from a premature baby.

6. That panel determined that the Registrant’s conduct fell well below the standards that are expected of a Biomedical Scientist and was sufficiently serious to constitute misconduct.

Today’s Hearing:

Evidence and Submissions

7. Ms Iskander, on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the background of the case and the previous review to the Panel. She drew the Panel’s attention to the previous panel’s concern that the Registrant had not demonstrated that he would act differently if faced with a pressured environment again.

8. The Registrant gave evidence on oath. He told the Panel of the medical conditions that he had been suffering from. He provided evidence of the medical issues that he suffers from, and that he was at times signed off as unfit for work due to those conditions.

9. The Registrant told the Panel that he understood his misconduct and what the risks were from his actions. He told the Panel of the possible ramifications of his actions that day and the impact they could have had on patients, service users and the wider profession. He said that those ramifications weigh heavily on his mind and he still thinks about them every day. He told the Panel of what he had learnt about time and stress management, from training courses and from two senior colleagues who provided him with advice, support and guidance when they became aware of these proceedings and the issues in the case. He gave examples of the techniques he had learnt to deal with stressful workloads.

10. The Registrant told the Panel of the significant and devastating impact that the outcome of his misconduct has had on his personal life, and that not a day goes by without him reflecting on his actions and what he would now do differently.

11. The Registrant told the Panel that he had been trying to find work as a Biomedical Scientist, in that he had made 36 applications, and had been rejected each time because employers were unable to provide supervision as required by the current Conditions of Practice imposed upon his practice. He told the Panel that he wanted to remain in the Biomedical Scientist profession and that this was a single incident in his career of over 14 years as a Biomedical Scientist and that the Panel could have confidence that there would not be another.

12. Ms Iskander told the Panel that the HCPC was encouraged by the attendance of the Registrant and the contents of his reflective statement. She told the Panel that the cogency of the Registrant’s evidence was such that the HCPC accepted that he has demonstrated insight and that its position was that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was no longer impaired.

Legal Advice

13. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant and that the initial issue was to determine if he is fit to return to unrestricted practice. Its role was not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations nor was it to go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment.

14. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel might find the questions formulated in the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant (2011) EWHC 927 (Admin) of some assistance, albeit slightly modified for these proceedings:

‘Does the evidence before the Panel today show that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired by reason of his misconduct in the sense that he:

a) is liable in the future to act so as to put a service user at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or

b) is liable in the future to bring the Biomedical Scientist profession into disrepute; and/or

c) is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the profession.

Decision:

15. The Panel took into consideration the submissions of Ms Iskander, and the oral and documentary evidence of the Registrant.

16. The Panel found the Registrant’s evidence to be compelling, cogent and clear. There was ample evidence that the Registrant had not been able to meet with his supervisor due to her lack of availability,  nor complete a PDP (as required if he had been in work as a Biomedical Scientist) because he had been off work due to illness. This was in the form of a medical opinion as required by the previous panel, and also in the form of other correspondence from the Department for Work and Pensions.

17. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration the oral testimony of the Registrant, the documentation before it, and the submissions of both parties. In particular it noted the following factors:

a) this is a case of misconduct and there is no suggestion that the Registrant lacked the requisite competence to carry out the role of a Biomedical Scientist. Hence this is a case where the Registrant’s insight is of greater importance;

b) the engagement of the Registrant with the process. He had not attended the last review hearing and therefore that panel did not have the opportunity to hear him on oath, nor to test his insight and remediation;

c) the Registrant’s evidence of insight and remediation, which the Panel has been able to test by way of asking probing questions,

d) the Registrant’s commitment to the profession and to remaining in the profession.

18. Taking all of the above into consideration, the Panel determined that the Registrant has now demonstrated full insight. He has attended this hearing and has been able to demonstrate his understanding of how the stressful circumstances had led to his misconduct and how he is able now to deal with stress and recognise the triggers for stress.

19. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Registrant is not liable in future to put the public at risk of harm, nor is he liable in future to bring the profession into disrepute, nor is he liable to breach a fundamental tenet of the profession. 

20. The Panel is also satisfied that the public interest has been satisfied in that the Registrant has been held to account and that proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared. Furthermore, the sanction imposed thus far has satisfied the public interest in this case.

21. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations would be in favour of returning the Registrant, who is clearly a dedicated and competent Biomedical Scientist, to unrestricted practice in the profession to continue his service to the public.

22. Therefore the Panel determines that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired.

23. In light of the Panel’s determination, it is exercising its power to review the Order under Article 30(2) and 30(4) and revokes the Order with immediate effect.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to revoke the Conditions of Practice Order against the registration of Mr Ian A Rees with immediate effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 9 April 2019.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Ian A Rees

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
09/04/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
04/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
10/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice