Miss Jennifer Ruth Allen

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS47701

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 28/03/2019 End: 17:00 28/03/2019

Location: Jurys Inn Cardiff, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3UD

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

While registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Biomedical Scientist, on 1 March 2018, at Cardiff Crown Court, you were convicted of:

1. Aiding and abetting driving while disqualified, contrary to Section 103(1)(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 44 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1998.

2. Doing an Act tending and intending to Pervert the Course of Public Justice.

3. Aiding and abetting use of vehicle without insurance.

4. By reason of your convictions as set out in paragraphs 1-3, your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Background

1. The Registrant was employed as a Biomedical Scientist by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board NHS Trust (“the Trust”) for approximately 16 years. At the relevant time the Registrant was a Band 6 Biomedical Scientist (Quality Officer) for the Point of Care Department.

2. On 14 September 2017, the Registrant’s car was stopped by the police. The Registrant was the front seat passenger. When the police attempted to arrest the driver, who was disqualified from driving, the driver drove off, causing a slight injury to a Police Officer. Subsequently, the police identified the driver and traced the car to the Registrant’s home address. When the Registrant was questioned by the police in relation to the matter, she stated that a different person had been driving the car on the day in question and that she had not seen the driver for a number of weeks. 

3. On 1 March 2018, the Registrant entered a guilty plea and was convicted at Cardiff Crown Court of aiding and abetting driving whilst disqualified, doing an act tending and intending to pervert the course of justice and aiding and abetting the use of a vehicle without insurance. The Registrant was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment (suspended for 24 months) and ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work.


Decision on Facts

4. The Registrant admitted the facts alleged in Particulars 1, 2 and 3 of the Allegation. The Panel also had regard to the Certificate of Conviction of Cardiff Crown Court dated 22 March 2018.

5. The Panel found Particulars 1, 2 and 3 proved.


Decision on Grounds

6. The Panel was satisfied that the statutory ground of conviction was made out.


Decision on Impairment 

7. In deciding whether the Registrant’s fitness to Practise is currently impaired, the Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Convictions and Cautions” and to the Practice Note on “Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired””. The Panel first considered the nature, circumstances and gravity of the offences for which the Registrant was convicted.

8. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s convictions were for serious matters as referred to by the sentencing judge who commented that in general terms where someone attempts to pervert the course of justice a prison sentence is inevitable.

9. The Panel found that the Registrant, in her dealings with the HCPC and in her oral evidence, was not fully transparent about the seriousness of the matters. When she emailed the HCPC to inform them about her convictions, the Registrant omitted to mention the serious matter of perverting the course of justice. When the Registrant informed her employer about the sentence imposed, she omitted to mention that she had been sentenced to a suspended prison sentence.

10. The Panel considered that the Registrant had failed to demonstrate full insight into the seriousness of the matters for which she was convicted and the damage done to the reputation of the profession as a result.

11. In respect of the personal element of impairment, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had breached fundamental tenets of her profession by not being trustworthy, had brought her profession into disrepute and that her integrity could not be relied on.

12. The Panel was concerned that the Registrant may still be susceptible to undue and improper pressure from her partner, given that she had been pressurised by him in the past to commit serious criminal offences and she remains in a relationship with that person.

13. The Panel considered that the Registrant had not fully remediated the effects of her conviction. The Panel was unable to conclude that the matters would not be repeated. For all these reasons, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired in relation to the personal element of impairment.

14. The Panel further considered that members of the public would be very concerned about the nature, gravity and circumstances of the Registrant’s conviction and would expect appropriate action to be taken. The Panel considered that public confidence in the profession and the HCPC would be undermined were a finding of impairment not made.

15. For all of the above reasons, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.


Decision on Sanction

16. The Panel heard submissions from Ms Manning-Rees on behalf of the HCPC and Mr Evans on behalf of the Registrant. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

17. The Panel had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) dated 22 March 2017. Given the seriousness and totality of the matters found proved, the Panel was satisfied that a sanction was required and that it would not be appropriate or in the public interest to take no further action or refer the matter to mediation.

18. The Panel considered the aggravating features of this case were the seriousness of the matters for which the Registrant was convicted which included giving a dishonest account to the police.

19. The Panel considered the following as mitigating features:

• The Registrant’s lack of any previous convictions or disciplinary record;

• The high esteem in which the Registrant was held by colleagues;

• The positive evidence as to the Registrant’s practice which was given by her direct line manager and the head of department;

• The acceptance by the sentencing judge that the Registrant had acted under pressure from her partner.

20. The Panel next considered a Caution Order. The Panel considered that the convictions were not matters of a minor nature but were serious and had the potential to damage the reputation of the profession. For that reason, the Panel determined that a Caution Order would be insufficient to protect the public or satisfy the public interest.

21. The Panel next carefully considered a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel was mindful that the matters found proved did not involve any clinical failings which required re-training or supervision. The Panel did not consider that the provision of a supervisor or mentor would be relevant in circumstances which are confined to the Registrant’s private life. In these circumstances, the Panel was unable to formulate any appropriate or workable conditions which would address the nature of the criminal convictions or would be adequate to protect the public and satisfy the public interest.

22. In next considering a Suspension Order, the Panel had regard to paragraph 39 of the ISP which sets out that suspension should be considered where the Panel considers that a Caution or Conditions of Practice Order would provide insufficient public protection or where the allegation is of a serious nature but unlikely to be repeated and, thus, striking off is not merited.

23. The Panel had regard to the mitigating factors in this case, in particular, the evidence that the Registrant’s actions were out of character in an otherwise unblemished long and successful career as a Biomedical Scientist. The Panel considered that evidence of remediation and full insight could potentially be provided and hence a striking off order was not merited at this stage.

24. Taking all matters into consideration, the Panel therefore concluded that the appropriate and proportionate sanction was a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months. In deciding that period, the Panel had regard to the need to protect the public interest and to mark the seriousness of the matters found proved. The Panel also considered that 12 months would be an appropriate period of time to allow the Registrant to continue to reflect on the seriousness of her actions on the reputation of her profession.

25. The Suspension Order will be reviewed prior to its expiry. The reviewing panel would be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance at the review, and a fuller reflective piece which demonstrates insight into the effect that her actions had on the reputation of her profession.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Miss Jennifer Ruth Allen for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

Interim Order

1. Having announced its decision on sanction, the Panel indicated that it would hear submissions on an application for an Interim Order.

2. Ms Manning-Rees applied for an Interim Suspension Order for a period of 18 months to cover the appeal period and any subsequent appeal. She submitted that in view of the Panel’s findings and the sanction imposed, an Interim Suspension Order was necessary to protect the public and was otherwise in the public interest.

3. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel had regard to its findings of conviction, current impairment and sanction and concluded that an Interim Order is necessary to protect the public and is otherwise in the public interest in order to cover the 28 day period during which the Registrant could appeal and any subsequent appeal period.

4. For the same reasons given in its determination on sanction, the Panel concluded that an interim conditions of practice would not be appropriate. It concluded that the only proportionate Interim Order was an Interim Suspension Order for the period of 18 months to cover any appeal period.

5. The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.

6. This Order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Jennifer Ruth Allen

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
28/03/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended