Ms Samantha-Joy Jones

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA35480

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 10/06/2019 End: 17:00 21/06/2019

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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

(As amended on day 1 of the hearing, namely 10 June 2019):

Whilst registered as a Paramedic with the Health & Care Professions Council, you:

1) Whilst employed by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust as a Band 5 bank paramedic, provided inaccurate and/or misleading information, in that:

a. on 15 February 2017, you stated that you:

(i) had previously qualified as a Critical Care Paramedic at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, or words to that effect and/or

(ii) had worked as a Critical Care Paramedic at West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust or words to that effect;

b. In approximately December 2016, you:
(i) wore a Critical Care Paramedic badge whilst on duty as a Paramedic and/or

(ii) told another paramedic that you were a Critical Care Paramedic.

2) You provided inaccurate and/or misleading information in your applications for a Specialist Paramedic Critical Care position in approximately 2015 and/or for a Qualified Specialist Paramedic Critical Care position in approximately 2016, both at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, in that you:

a. stated that you were employed by West Mercia and Warwickshire Police as a Critical Care Paramedic between May - November 2015;

b. stated that you worked as a Critical Care Paramedic Trainer  whilst employed at Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust between August 2013 - February 2015;

c. included areas of specialism within your role at Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that you did not specialize in, including but not limited to airway management, crash and trauma calls, and/or advanced life support;

d. stated that you worked as a qualified Critical Care Paramedic whilst employed with Bristol Ambulance at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust when this was not the case;

e. stated that you were an instructor in Advanced Life Support, when you did not hold the appropriate qualification and/or you were not registered as required with the Resuscitation Council;

f. stated that you had gained a critical care qualification through MAGPAS when this was not the case.

3)  In a meeting on 29 March 2017, you stated that you had intubated a patient during an observation shift at Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, when this was not the case.

4) In your interview for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance in approximately 2016, you stated that you had undertaken critical care paramedic training at MAGPAS in 2012, when this was not the case.

5) In 2015, informed colleague(s) at Bristol Ambulance Service that you had attended a road traffic incident and had resuscitated and/or attempted to resuscitate a baby, when this was not the case;

6) While employed as an Agency Paramedic by Bristol Ambulance Service between 1 December 2014 and 1 May 2015 you:

a. On one or more occasion, wore the badge indicating that you were a Critical Care Paramedic in such a way as it was visible to colleagues and/or members of the public:

(i) When you were on shift as a Band 5 paramedic and/or

(ii) You did not have the relevant skills and/or qualifications to call yourself a CCP.

7) The actions described in particulars 1 to 6 were dishonest.

8) The particulars set out at 1 to 7 constitute misconduct.

9) By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters
Application to amend the Allegation
1. Ms Manning-Rees applied to amend Particulars 7 and 8 of the Allegation. She said that there were typographical errors in that Particular 7 “the actions described in Particulars 1 and 6 were dishonest” should have read “…Particulars 1 to 6…”. Also that Particular 8 “the particulars set out at 1 to 6 constitute misconduct” should have read “the particulars set out at 1 to 7…”. She submitted that the proposed amendments would not affect the substance of the Allegation nor would they result in any injustice to the Registrant. The Registrant did not oppose the application.

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

3. The Panel was satisfied that if the Allegation was amended as suggested, no injustice would arise. It therefore agreed to the Allegation and to the proposed amendments.

Late admission of document
4. Ms Manning-Rees applied to introduce a further document which had not been previously produced by the HCPC. The document was the Registrant’s undated resignation letter to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (QEH). The Registrant did not oppose this application.

5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

6. The Panel was satisfied that no injustice would arise to the Registrant if this document was admitted, albeit at this late stage. The document has now been exhibited as C2.

Application for parts of the hearing to be in private
7. Reference was made by the Registrant to the illness of a family member. The Panel indicated that any such reference could be heard in private. Ms Manning-Rees and the Registrant agreed that this would be appropriate. Having heard the Legal Assessor’s advice, the Panel directed that this part of the hearing should be heard in private.

Background
8. The Registrant was employed as a Bank Paramedic with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST) from March 2016 to August 2017.

9. It is alleged that, in the course of her employment, the Registrant gave inaccurate information about her previous clinical experience. The Registrant claimed to have qualified as a Critical Care Paramedic (CCP), having attended a critical care course at MAGPAS Air Ambulance (MAGPAS) although she had been informed that the course was not a qualification. She had also referred to herself as a CCP and on occasions wore a badge describing her as such. In 2015 and 2016 when applying for employment as a CCP at South Western Ambulance Service, she claimed that she had been employed as a CCP by West Mercia and Warwickshire Police, and as a CCP trainer at QEH. Further that she had worked as a CCP and as a Critical Care Paramedic Trainer when this was not the case.

10. It was accepted by both parties that whereas the title of Paramedic is protected, that of CCP is not. Individual Trusts and providers classify CCPs in accordance with their own standards, although these are broadly similar.

Registrant’s admissions
11. At the outset of the hearing, admissions were made to Particulars 1b(i), 1b(ii), 2a, 2c, 2d, 2f, 3 and 6a(i).

12. There was before the Panel a bundle of documents prepared by the HCPC containing witness statements and exhibits. In the course of the hearing, the Registrant introduced a number of documents including her witness statements together with supporting documents such as training certificates and also a number of other statements.

Witnesses
13. The following witnesses were called on behalf of the HCPC:
• RG, a registered Paramedic, was employed by SWAST as Quality Lead and had managerial responsibility for the Registrant who was a bank member of staff. He undertook initial investigations into concerns about the Registrant, and held a meeting with her on 29 March 2017. The Panel found him to be a credible witness whose evidence was clear and balanced.

• PC, a registered Medical Practitioner, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, was Acute Medical Care Director in SWAST. He was present at the meeting on 29 March 2017. In his evidence, he described the skills generally required for the role of a CCP. The Panel found him to be a credible and balanced witness whose evidence was detailed and clear.

• DC, a registered Paramedic, was Clinical Director of MAGPAS. He managed training courses for doctors and paramedics. One such course was attended by the Registrant. The Panel found his evidence to be balanced, consistent and credible.

• RJ was Director of Operations at Bristol Ambulance Service (BAS) which provided paramedics to SWAST, one of whom was the Registrant, who was employed by a paramedic agency. RJ was her manager at BAS. He described the capacity in which the Registrant was engaged by BAS. The Panel found him to be a credible witness whose evidence was fair and thorough. He produced, by way of rebuttal to matters which had been put to him by the Registrant, further documentation.

Recall of witness RJ
Witness RJ was called by the HCPC to give evidence. Certain matters were put to him by the Registrant which related to Particular 5 of the Allegation. Having concluded his evidence, he subsequently contacted the Hearings Officer and informed him that he had documentary records relevant to Particular 5, relating to where the Registrant had challenged his version of events. He had not had those with him when he had given evidence. Ms Manning-Rees applied to recall the witness in order that he might give rebuttal evidence by reference to these documents. The Registrant opposed the application on the basis that it would be unfair to her as she had not previously been made aware of the documents, and had not been prepared to deal with them.

The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

The Panel was satisfied that the documents were relevant to the matters raised by the Registrant. It therefore allowed the application to recall the witness to give evidence in rebuttal.

• GY was a Lead Paramedic at SWAST. His evidence was in relation to whether the Registrant was a qualified CCP. The Panel found him to be a confident and fair witness whose evidence was direct and credible. He readily accepted areas where his recollection was not fully clear.

• TH was employed by West Mercia Police (WMP) as a Team Leader. His evidence related to the Registrant’s role when employed at WMP. The Panel found his evidence to be clear and certain. He was unshaken in his recollection; a credible witness.

• RB was Human Resources Manager at West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS). She described the Registrant’s role when undergoing a student paramedic placement with WMAS between January 2010 and March 2012. Her unchallenged evidence was based on documents relating to the placement.

• AM was Lead Educator Clinical Skills Trainer at QEH. He was the Registrant’s line manager when she was employed there as a Clinical Skills Trainer between September 2013 and February 2015. He described her role in that capacity. The Panel found him to be measured and thoughtful when giving evidence; he was a credible witness.

• TC was the Lead Nurse in Resuscitation, Clinical skills and Simulation at QEH where the Registrant was employed as a Clinical Skills Trainer. Her evidence, which related to the Registrant’s role was measured, clear and focused. The Panel found her to be a wholly credible witness.

• NF was a registered Medical Practitioner. He was a Consultant in Pre-hospital Emergency at SWAST. In his evidence, he described the skills required of a CCP and the extent to which a MAGPAS course was relevant. The Panel found him to be a credible and confident witness, balanced and transparent, who accepted that with the passage of time there could be difficulties in recollection.

• ThH, a registered Paramedic, was Operations and Hearing and Development Officer at SWAST, where he was the Registrant’s team leader. He described the skills required of a CCP and the differences between that skills base and that of a standard Paramedic. He was present at the meeting held on 29 March 2017. His evidence was clear, balanced and credible.

14.  The Registrant gave evidence. She made a number of admissions but on occasions she appeared to dilute and modify them. The main thrust of her evidence was that she had acquired the skills required of a CCP and that she had worked as such with a number of private providers both in the UK and abroad. When giving evidence, the Registrant displayed a lack of certainty over dates and entries in various documents including employment application forms, where there were differences in the basic information given. For example, in one NHS employment application, she wrote that her A Level results were attained in 2010, while in another application these same A Level subjects and grades were attained in 2007. The Panel made allowance for the effect of the passage of time since the incidents alleged, but found that the Registrant’s evidence, though clear and assertive in a number of areas, lacked reliability in others. She introduced unauthenticated statements from people who were not called as witnesses. The Panel found much of this hearsay evidence to be unreliable. Where there were differences between the evidence given by the Registrant and that adduced by the HCPC, the Panel preferred the latter. Indeed, the Panel found some of the Registrant’s evidence to be wholly lacking in credibility.

Decision on Facts
15. In reaching its decision on facts, the Panel considered all the evidence before it, both oral and documentary, together with the submissions of Ms Manning-Rees and those of the Registrant. The Panel was aware that although some of the facts alleged have been admitted, the burden of proof of each of the matters alleged is on the HCPC and must be proved on the balance of probabilities. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

Particular 1a)(i) – Proved.

16. Particular 1a(i) was found proved. At a meeting with the Registrant on 15 February 2017, the evidence of RG was that the Registrant said she had qualified as a CCP with East of England Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (EEAS), having undertaken a course at MAGPAS. RG said that he was informed by DC that the MAGPAS course attended by the Registrant was not recognised as a qualification. DC’s evidence to the Panel confirmed this to be the case. The Panel took account of DC’s letter to SJ dated 9 April 2015 that “the course did not represent any assurance of competency, a qualification or access to a job”. The Registrant in her evidence said that she assumed that the MAGPAS course did entitle her to the CCP qualification.

Particular 1a(ii) – Proved.
17. Particular 1a(ii) was found proved on the basis of the evidence of RG and ThH. The Registrant’s evidence was that she had practised as a CCP with “West Mids”. She said that she had not used the expression WMAS, but had referred to West Midlands by which she meant a private provider. However, RG said that the Registrant had referred by name to the Chief Executive of WMAS, who at that time was also Chief Executive of EEAS. RG told the Panel when discussing the ambulance service in conversation, people just referred to the area, and he was confident that she was referring specifically to WMAS in this context. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had stated that she had worked as a CCP for WMAS, or words to that effect.

Particulars 1b(i) and 1b(ii) – Proved.
18. Particulars 1b(i) and 1b(ii) were found proved in the light of the Registrant’s admissions and the evidence of GY who witnessed this and subsequently raised his concerns with RG in an email dated 5 January 2017.

Particular 2a – Proved.
19. The Panel took account of the application forms from the Registrant for Qualified Specialist Paramedic – Critical Care and the application for Specialist Paramedic - Critical Care - Bristol. Particular 2a was found proved on the basis of the Registrant’s application forms, her admission and the evidence of TH who said that there was no such role at WMP.

Particular 2b – Proved.
20. Particular 2b was found proved on the basis of the evidence of AM that the Registrant’s role did not include training CCPs but was that of a First Aid Trainer. The Registrant’s evidence was that there was a grammatical error in that there should have been a comma before the word trainer as she was a CCP but that she was employed as a trainer. She said that by Critical Care Paramedic she meant that she was working elsewhere as such. However, the Panel took account of the NHS application forms where she referred to herself as having worked as Critical Care Paramedic Trainer without a comma. The Panel did not find her explanation to be credible.

Particular 2c – Proved.
21. Particular 2c was found proved on the basis of the Registrant’s admission, the employment applications and the evidence of RG and TC.

Particular 2d – Proved.
22. Particular 2d was found proved on the basis of the Registrant’s admission, the employment forms and the evidence of PC, DC and RJ who each confirmed she was not a qualified CCP.

Particular 2e – Proved.
23. Particular 2e was found proved on the basis of the evidence of PC and TC. PC said that to be an ALS instructor required registration by either the Resuscitation Council (UK) or the European Resuscitation Council. TC’s evidence was that the Registrant did attend an ALS course but was not deemed to have instructor potential. The Registrant in her evidence accepted that she was not registered as such, although she has described herself as an ALS instructor. At one point in her evidence, the Registrant stated that “A” in ALS may stand for Adult but the Panel noted that she wrote in her application “Advanced Life Support (ALS)”. 

Particular 2f – Proved.
24. Particular 2f was found proved on the basis of the Registrant’s admissions, together with the evidence of DC and PC, as well as the pre-course letter to the Registrant dated 22 January 2015 stating that a certificate of competence is not issued at the end of the course. The Registrant in her evidence said that it was this was unclear to her and that she had assumed that by undertaking the course she had achieved a qualification. The Panel also took account of DC’s letter to the Registrant dated 9 April 2015 stating “the course did not represent any assurance of competency, a qualification or access to a job”.

Particular 3 – Proved.
25. Particular 3 was found proved on the basis of the evidence of RG and TC. At the meeting on 29 March 2017, the Registrant said that in response to a crash call while at QEH, she had intubated a patient. PC questioned her about this as she was only at the scene in an observer capacity. TC confirmed in her evidence that no such incident occurred. In her oral evidence to the Panel, the Registrant said that she had not intubated the patient and she was referring to a possible scenario. The Panel was satisfied from RG’s account of the meeting that the Registrant indeed said that she had intubated the patient.

Particular 4 – Proved.
26. Particular 4 was found proved on the basis of the evidence of NF that the Registrant said at her interview that she had attended the MAGPAS course in 2012. He said that he remembered the year as that was the course he had attended, and that the Registrant was not present. Further, this was the only course given by MAGPAS that year which was attended by any paramedics. Although in cross examination he agreed that with the passage of time he might have mistaken the date, he remained firm in his recollection that the Registrant was not present on the course. The Registrant in her evidence said that she had attended MAGPAS in 2015 and that the date 2012, which was when she had qualified as a paramedic, might have been misheard by NF to refer to the MAGPAS course. The Panel found this explanation to be unlikely and preferred the evidence of NF.

Particular 5 – Proved.
27. Particular 5 was found proved on the basis of the evidence of RJ who said that the Registrant had attended a road traffic accident on 28 April 2015 where one of a pair of twins traveling with their mother had died. He said that the Registrant had returned from the incident in tears, saying she had attempted to resuscitate the child. However, later that day he heard from a SWAST officer who wished to pass thanks to the Registrant for attending to the mother.

28. The Registrant in her evidence said that the child she had resuscitated was a different incident. She said she thought it was the last incident recorded on the 28 April 2015 control sheet. RJ said that the patient was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary not the paediatric hospital and that the timings in the control sheet were not consistent with a paediatric cardiac arrest.

29. The Registrant in her evidence had referred to her attendance at that incident with BH, whose statement she had produced, apparently confirming his attendance with her and stating there were five incidents on 28 April 2015. But RJ in his rebuttal evidence, produced documents to show that the Registrant had been crewed with another crew member and that BH was not on shift on 28 April 2015.

30. The Registrant then produced a personal diary entry which confirmed she had not worked with BH on 28 April 2015 but had worked with him the previous day, 27 April 2015. She said that the job entered on 27 April 2015 may have been the child resuscitation incident she was referring to. RJ said he would have remembered a child resuscitation incident. He was clear the Registrant was referring to the road traffic accident on 28 April 2015 when she had said she attempted to resuscitate the child. RJ, by reference to the roster documentation, established that this was not the case. The Panel did not accept BH’s statement nor the Registrant’s explanation.

Particulars 6a(i) and 6 a(ii) – Proved.
31. Particulars 6a(i) and 6a(ii) were found proved. The Registrant admitted that she had on occasions worn such a badge and also epaulettes, but that she did so having not removed them from attending the previous day with a private provider where she claimed she was entitled to wear such items. The Panel took account of a number of photographs in which the Registrant was wearing a CCP badge next to a Bristol ambulance vehicle. The Panel took account of the BAS uniform policy which states that no changes to the uniform could be made without managerial approval. RJ said that this policy was given to employees at induction and was available in the staff room. The Registrant was not employed as a CCP and was not entitled to wear anything which stated that she was.

32. The Registrant maintained that she was entitled to describe herself as a CCP as she had qualified as such. RJ said that although he had signed a reference dated 13 January 2015 on behalf of the Registrant to the effect that she was a CCP, this has been drafted by the Registrant and at that stage he had no reason to believe she did not have the relevant skills and qualifications. The Panel has already concluded that the Registrant was not entitled to a CCP qualification. RJ confirmed the Registrant did not acquire CCP skills or qualifications while at BAS.

Particular 7
33. In regard to each of the matters found proved, the Panel was satisfied that what the Registrant did or said was in the knowledge that they were untrue and that she did so knowing them to be untrue in order to enhance her prospects of gaining employment or to increase her status and reputation. The Registrant was informed by DC on 9 April 2015 that she was not a qualified CCP and again by RJ by letter 1 May 2015 that she could not wear CCP badges. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant knew she was not a qualified CCP and that her actions in attempting to demonstrate that she was, were dishonest. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that in each case the Registrant acted dishonestly.

Decision on Grounds
34. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the evidence and information before it, together with the submissions by Ms Manning-Rees and those by the Registrant. It has had in mind the relevant HCPTS Practice Note. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

35. The Registrant was an experienced professional who has worked at a number of NHS Trusts and private providers, in the UK and abroad.

36. The Panel has found there to be a number of acts of dishonesty, some of which occurred when the Registrant was applying for employment. By exaggerating her qualifications and skills, the Registrant’s dishonest actions had the potential to cause harm to service users, who might have been deprived of competent treatment.

37. Furthermore, these dishonest acts occurred on a number of occasions over a period of several years and despite warnings from her employers.

38. By her actions, the Registrant was in breach of the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics:
2012
Standard 13 - You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.
2016
Standard 9 – Be honest and trustworthy
9.1 – you must make sure your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.
9.2 – you must be honest about your experience, qualifications and skills.

39. These dishonest acts fell seriously short of the standards expected of a paramedic, and the Panel has concluded that they amount to misconduct.

Decision on Impairment 
40. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the evidence and information before it, including statements from the Registrant’s colleagues attesting to her integrity, together with the submissions from Ms Manning-Rees and those from the Registrant. It has had in mind the relevant Practice Note and has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

41. These were serious acts of dishonesty which occurred over a number of years. They occurred in the course of the Registrant’s employment.

42. Although the Registrant has said that she has attended courses on professional ethics and now appreciates the importance of integrity and honesty in a paramedic, she has throughout this hearing, despite the evidence of fellow professionals, until the Panel’s findings on the facts, continued to maintain that she is a CCP. The Panel has therefore concluded that she has demonstrated little if any insight into her dishonest misconduct and the effect that it could have had on service users, fellow professionals and the reputation of the profession.

43. As a consequence, the Panel cannot be satisfied that misconduct of this nature would not be repeated. Indeed, it has concluded that there remains a high risk of repetition. In these circumstances, in regard to the personal component, the Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

44. The Panel has also concluded that a finding of current impairment is required in the wider public interest. This is necessary to declare and uphold proper professional standards. The public would expect a paramedic to act in accordance with these standards. Public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as its regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

Decision on Sanction
45. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information before it, together with the submissions from Ms Manning-Rees and those from the Registrant. It had regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy 2017 (the Policy). It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

46. Ms Manning-Rees made no submissions in regard to particular sanctions. She referred the Panel to the Policy and emphasised that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish a registrant but rather to protect the public. She did however refer to certain aggravating and mitigating factors.

47. The Panel found these to be aggravating factors:
• the serious nature of the misconduct;
• the misconduct occurred on a number of occasions;
• the potential effect upon service users and fellow professionals;
• the lack of any specific remedial steps;
• the lack of meaningful expressions of remorse and significant insight into the serious nature of the misconduct. Throughout the hearing, the Registrant described herself as a CCP but in her submissions on sanction today she said that since the allegations arose she has never referred to herself as a CCP;
• the risk of repetition.


48. The Panel found these to be mitigating factors:
• there have been no previous regulatory findings against the Registrant;
• despite current difficult family circumstances, the Registrant has engaged with the regulatory process;
• at the outset of the hearing, the Registrant made admissions to some of the matters alleged.

49. The Panel first considered whether to take no action, but the serious nature of the misconduct demands a sanction.

50. The Panel then considered mediation or a Caution Order. However, the serious nature of the misconduct is such that neither would be sufficient to protect the public or to address public interest concerns.

51. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order, but there are no conditions which would be workable, appropriate or sufficient in the light of the serious nature of the misconduct.

52. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order, but in the light of the Registrant’s lack of insight and lack of remediation, together with her repeated and continuing dishonesty, even during the hearing, such an order would be insufficient to address the misconduct and to be a sufficient deterrent to other registered paramedics. Furthermore, there remains a significant risk of repetition.

53. The Panel therefore considered a Striking Off Order. It is aware that this is a sanction of last resort for serious acts, including those involving dishonesty.

54. The Panel had in mind the Policy which indicates that such an order should be used where there is no other way to protect the public. In the current circumstances, the Registrant’s lack of insight and the risk of repetition of the misconduct, any lesser sanction would be insufficient to protect the public and to uphold public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process. The Panel considered the financial impact such an order would have on the Registrant but the Panel determined this was outweighed by the public interest.

55. In these circumstances, the Panel determined that the only proportionate and sufficient sanction is that of a Striking Off Order.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Samantha-Joy Jones from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Samantha-Joy Jones

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
10/06/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off