Mr John Cross
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1. This is a hearing of an application by the Applicant for restoration to the Health and Care (HCPC) register. The Applicant made the application on 08 January 2019.
2. The Applicant was an Operating Department Practitioner.
3. On 24 May 2010 and at the Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates Court the Applicant was convicted of two charges of False Accounting and was subsequently sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. The Applicant pleaded guilty to both offences.
The Hearing on 20 July 2011
4. On 20 July 2011 and at a hearing of the Conduct and Competence Committee of the Health Professions Council, a panel found that by reason of the conviction referred to above, the Applicant’s fitness to practise was impaired and made a Striking Off Order. The Applicant did not attend and was not represented at that hearing.
5. The panel at that hearing noted that the convictions related to a period between June and October 2009 when the Applicant was working as a locum Operating Department Practitioner at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. The Applicant had submitted falsified time sheets in order to make personal financial gain of £15,660 which caused a loss to the NHS of over £23,000.
6. The Panel observed that the offences involved a serious breach of trust and that it was only the intervention of the authorities that brought the Applicant’s conduct to an end.
7. In imposing the Striking Off Order, the panel observed “the public’s confidence in the [Applicant] himself and in his profession has been severely undermined and in the Panel’s assessment is unlikely to be remedied in the future. It therefore follows that the Panel has no alternative but to direct that the [Applicant] be struck off the register in order to maintain confidence in the profession of Operating Department Practitioners and in the regulatory process, as to do otherwise would diminish confidence in both”.
8. On 08 January 2019 the Applicant submitted an application to be restored to the register.
The Applicant has attached a number of documents namely;
• A letter supporting his application written by the Applicant dated 08 January 2019.
• The Applicant’s undated Reflective Statement. (The Applicant said that it had been “finalised” within the last two weeks).
• 6 supporting references, all of recent date.
• A basic life support certificate dated 29 August 2017.
• An Australasian Registry Emergency Medical Technicians Certificate [Paramedic] expiring on 29 September 2019.
• An Australasian Registry Emergency Medical Technicians Certificate, [Intensive Care Paramedic] expiring on 16 June 2021.
• A written declaration made by the Registrant to the Australasian Registry Emergency Medical Technicians dated 06 June 2013 regarding his conviction and removal from the register.
• The Registrant’s CV, to which is attached a further written statement by him and a number of supporting documents.
The Applicant’s case for restoration to the Register.
9. The Applicant gave evidence and responded to questions. In brief summary his evidence was as follows:
• He was deeply ashamed of what he had done. He felt that he had addressed his failings and remediated himself. He said that he was now a completely different person from the person that he was at the time of the offences. He had put in place a variety of coping strategies. His life style was quite different. His personal life was much more settled and he was confident that there was no danger of a repetition of the offences. He also attached great importance to personal honesty.
• He described the work that he had done since 2011, all of which had been undertaken outside the United Kingdom. In substance he had been using the qualifications gained from the Australasian Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians to work in a variety of remote, hostile and challenging conditions including Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Eastern Ukraine. He said that on average his work pattern was about 9 weeks abroad followed by a short period at home in the UK. He said that when working abroad he had performed a whole range of paramedical functions. He did accept that on occasion, for example in Eastern Ukraine he had worked, performing a role that lay outside his registration, with the Australasian authorities. In explanation of this he said that in such areas, where the medical resources were very inadequate, the authorities were more concerned with his capabilities than with his formal qualifications or professional status.
• He emphasised that at all material times since his conviction in 2010, he had disclosed to those with whom he was working and by whom he was employed, the fact of his conviction, that he had served a term of imprisonment and that he had been removed from the [then] HPC register. He accepted that when referring to the sentence of imprisonment he was accustomed to refer to the period actually served, namely 3 months rather than the prison sentence imposed namely 15 months. He denied that in making disclosure in this way he had any intention to deceive.
• He said that presently he is working for Global Rescue which is based in the Ukraine. He is employed in emergency care and as a rapid response Paramedic. He described the nature of the work that he presently does namely to support the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe] mission teams.
• He had informed all the referees, whose references were before the Panel, that he had been convicted of fraud, that he had been sent to prison for a period of 3 months and that he had been removed from the register.
• He said that he hoped that he could be restored to the register and that he would like to obtain a post within the NHS.
10. Mr Walker made submissions on the Applicant’s behalf. in summary he said as follows:
• That the Applicant had demonstrated that he was capable of safe and effective practice. In support of this submission he reminded the Panel that when the Applicant had been struck off the register there had been no criticism of his clinical competence.
• That the references that had been produced on behalf of the Applicant demonstrated the regard in which he was held by employers and fellow workers. They speak as to the Applicant’s clinical competence, integrity, reliability and leadership qualities.
• That the Applicant had demonstrated real remorse. He had also developed the appropriate level of insight. The risk of repetition was consequently very low.
• The Applicant had been candid with the HCPC in the documents that he had attached to his application for restoration.
• The Applicant had always disclosed to prospective employers and in appropriate terms, the fact of his conviction and prison sentence served; also that he had been struck off the register. He submitted that there had been no misleading of employers.
• Since his conviction the Applicant had worked in very challenging and remote areas of the world and had demonstrated his professionalism, resilience and commitment to those with whom he was working. He had been effective in maintaining and upgrading his clinical skills.
• There was a public interest in restoring the Applicant to the register and public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would not be undermined by his restoration.
• That in all the circumstances the Applicant had demonstrated that he was a fit and proper person to practise his profession.
The submissions made on behalf of the HCPC
11. Ms Senior made submissions and in summary she said as follows:
• The HCPC opposed the Applicant’s application for restoration to the register. The HCPC did not accept that he Applicant had demonstrated that he was capable of safe and effective practice and that he was a fit and proper person.
• The HCPC accepted that the Applicant had demonstrated remorse but it did not accept that he had demonstrated the appropriate degree of insight. She submitted that the Applicant had been less than candid in his disclosures as to the conviction and sentence when informing prospective employers and the Australasian Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians of these matters; also that in his letter to the HCPC supporting this application, he had downplayed these matters.
• She submitted that given the Applicant’s lack of transparency and the difficulty in remediating dishonesty, which the Applicant had not fully achieved, public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be undermined if the Applicant was restored to the register.
The decision the Panel
12. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel also had regard to the Practice Note issued by HCPTS, dated November 2017 and entitled Restoration to the Register.
13. In coming to its conclusion the Panel has had regard to the following considerations:
• The burden of proof rests on the Applicant.
• Restoration to the register is governed by the provisions of Article 33 of Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 [as amended] [the Order] and by the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee)(Procedure) Rules 2003 (the Rules).
• That the Panel must not grant the application unless it is satisfied on the evidence before it that the Applicant meets the general requirements for registration and in particular that he is capable of safe and effective practice and is a fit and proper person to practice as an Operating Department Practitioner, having regard to the particular circumstances that led to the Striking Off.
14. The Panel has concluded that the Applicant’s name should be restored to the register, subject to the terms that are set out in the Order. Its reasons are in summary as follows:
• The Panel concluded that despite reservations clearly identified by Ms Senior, and the serious nature of his offences ,the Applicant has satisfied it, that he is now capable of safe and effective practice and that he is now a fit and proper person to be on the register.
• The Panel accepts that the Registrant has developed real insight. He is truly remorseful and that the risk of his acting in a dishonest manner in the future is very low. The Panel notes that prior to his conviction and in the 9 years since that date,the Applicant has had an unblemished record. The panel also accepts that at all material times the Applicant did inform prospective employers of the fact of his conviction, that he had served a sentence of imprisonment and also had been struck off the register. Whilst the Panel notes that the Applicant did not inform the Australasian Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians that he had been sentenced to a term of 15 months imprisonment, what he did disclose was sufficient for the purpose.
• The references submitted on behalf of the Applicant are full and very supportive. They testify as to his clinical competences, integrity and leadership qualities. They also emphasise the challenging and dangerous work that he has been doing in remote and hostile regions.
• The Panel noted the way that the Applicant had maintained and developed his clinical skills.
• Having regard to the particular circumstances of this case the Panel is satisfied that the Applicant has demonstrated that public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would not be undermined if he was restored to the register on the terms set out below.
The Registrar is directed to restore the name of Mr John Cross to the Operating Department Practitioner part of the Register, but restoration is only to take effect once the Applicant has:
(a) Provided the Registrar with any information and declarations required for admission to the Register;
(b) Paid the prescribed restoration fee;
(c) Satisfied the Registrar that, in relation to the Applicant, there is or will be in force appropriate cover under an indemnity arrangement;
(d) Provided evidence which satisfies the Registrar that the Applicant has successfully completed a 60 day period of professional updating in accordance with the HCPC Standards for Return to Practice.
A Restoration Hearing took place at HCPTS London on Wednesday 24 July 2019 at 10:00am. The Registrant was restored to practise.
History of Hearings for Mr John Cross
|Outcomes / Status
|Conduct and Competence Committee