Mr Michael C Penney

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA15773

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 28/05/2019 End: 17:00 30/05/2019

Location: Hilton Hotel Belfast, BT1 3LP

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

The allegation against you is as follows:

1. On 24 March 2016 at Belfast Magistrates Court you received a Police

Caution for Theft

2. By reason of your caution as set out at paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Paramedic

is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Hearing in Private

1. The Panel heard that health and personal matters may arise in the course of the hearing.  The Panel decided, having taking legal advice and having considered the HCPTS Practice Note on Conducting Hearings in Private that if and when any such matters arise it will hold that part of the hearing in private to protect the private life of the Registrant.

Background:

2. The Registrant was employed by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) as a Paramedic. On 5 December 2015, he commenced a day shift as a Paramedic in a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) in Belfast.

3. On 5 December 2015, whilst on duty, the Registrant entered a Boots store in Belfast (Boots) and left the premises without paying for goods with the total approximate value of £160.  A person matching his description, a tall male with a shaven head and wearing an NIAS uniform, had been filmed on CCTV leaving a Boots store with the items in a bag without having paid for them. Ambulance Control was duly notified and the Registrant received a request to contact Ambulance Control. He spoke to the Duty Control Manager who asked if the Registrant had been in Boots. The Manager informed the Registrant that a male matching his description had been seen removing items from Boots without paying for them. The Registrant denied having been in Boots that day.

4. The Registrant has stated that he has no recollection of being in Boots, but later found the relevant items on the back seat of his RRV. He has stated that he had no understanding of how the items got there and, in fear and confusion, he put the items in the sluice room at the ambulance station, for safekeeping, prior to attending an interview with the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) about the matter. He later identified the whereabouts of the items to the PSNI officer and volunteered to get them and hand them over. The Registrant maintained that he still did not understand what had happened and that he had no recollection of being in Boots or taking the items.

5. On 24 March 2016, the Registrant accepted a Caution for theft on 5 December 2015. He accepted that it must have been him on the CCTV footage and that it must have been him who had removed the items without paying. His explanation of the events was that he had no recollection of taking the items and that this was due to his health condition.

6. The Panel heard from one witness for the HCPC, Dr Wilkins and it also heard oral evidence from the Registrant.

Witness 1 – Dr Wilkins

7. Dr Wilkins examined Registrant on 6 March 2018 and provided a report dated 13 April 2018.

8. The witness explained his approach to his report on the Registrant and his approach to the facts provided to him by the Registrant. He stated that, where it was possible to do so, in preparing his report he had compared the Registrant’s position with the medical records.

The Registrant’s Evidence

9. The Registrant accepted the fact that he had a Police Caution and informed the Panel that all attempts to appeal or overturn the Caution had failed.

10. The Registrant apologised for his behaviour and said that he had never intended to bring the profession into disrepute. He said that he had recently completed a Level 3 in First Aid training and, in addition to his employment as a Paramedic, was occasionally training the public in first aid. He said he maintained contact with his GP. 

11. The Registrant told the Panel that he had paid for the goods he had taken from the Boots store the day after the incident.  He stated that he has been reinstated to his full time role with the NIAS and none of his colleagues had any difficulties with him.  He stated he knew he had been unwell at the time of the incident and he was very sorry for it. The Registrant said he understood the public interest and their concerns about his behaviour.

12. The Registrant explained the Continual Professional Development (CPD) he was currently undertaking. He also explained that he is currently working on a double-manned ambulance. He said that his operational manager was awaiting the outcome of this hearing before making any change to his working arrangements as he was subject to restrictions. His said his colleagues were not fully aware of the current HCPC proceedings.

HCPC Submission on Facts, Ground and Impairment

13. Ms Ryan summarised the HCPC case.  She reminded the Panel that the Certificate of Caution was conclusive evidence and that the Registrant had admitted it. She summarised the evidence of Dr Wilkins.  She submitted that the Registrant had shown remorse.  She said that the Registrant was currently under the care of his GP but there was a small risk of repetition given the risk of relapse of his health condition. 

14. On the public interest, Ms Ryan stressed to the Panel the need to maintain confidence in the profession and submitted that a finding of current impairment was necessary. The Caution was for theft, a crime of dishonesty, and it occurred whilst the Registrant was on duty.  Ms Ryan submitted that public confidence would be undermined were there to be no finding of current impairment and that, whilst the health concerns and context of the incident were relevant, a finding of impairment was nonetheless required to maintain public confidence.

The Registrant’s Submissions

15. The Registrant submitted that his fitness to practise is not currently impaired. He told the Panel that he is more aware of his health. He has good support from his family, GP and Occupational Health and stated that he will always remain professional and treat the public with respect, honesty and integrity. He will try to be an ambassador for his profession and the HCPC.

16. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.  He reminded the Panel about the HCPTS Practice Notes on Conviction and Caution Allegations and on Finding Fitness to Practise Impaired. He referred to the guidance in Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin) and to the central importance of the public interest in its consideration of impairment of fitness to practise.

Decision:

17. The Panel carefully considered all of the evidence and the submissions from Ms Ryan and the Registrant. The Panel was mindful of the Practice Notes on Conviction and Caution Allegations, and Finding Fitness to Practise Impaired.

Finding of Fact

18. The Panel noted the Certificate of Caution dated 24 March 2016 and the Registrant’s acceptance of the fact of the Caution.

Ground

19. The Panel found that the facts found proved in Particular 1 satisfied the ground of Caution.

Impairment:

Evidence

20. The Panel next considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of the Caution. The Panel kept in mind the central importance of public protection, the wider public interest and the guidance provided in Grant. The Panel was mindful of the need to safeguard public confidence both in the profession and the HCPC.  It reminded itself that the issue of impairment is a matter for its professional judgement and there was no burden or onus of proof. It was also mindful that notwithstanding the evidence of health issues, this is not a health case and there is no health allegation. 

21. The Panel has found it necessary to analyse and assess all of the evidence before it in order to properly exercise its professional judgment when assessing impairment. It considered the HCPTS Practice Note on Conviction and Caution Allegations.  It has not gone behind the Caution but it has properly and thoroughly examined the context and circumstances of the Caution, including all the medical evidence before it. The Panel noted the following from the practice note:
“The Panels’ task is to determine whether fitness to practise is impaired base upon the nature, circumstances and gravity of the offence concerned, and, if so, whether any sanction needs to be imposed. A similar approach should be adopted when considering cautions, as a caution should not have been administered unless the offender has made a clear admission of guilt.
In considering the nature, circumstances and gravity of the offence, Panels need to take account of public protection in its broadest sense, including whether the Registrant’s actions bring the profession concerned into disrepute or may undermine public confidence in that profession.”

22. The Panel considered the Registrant’s oral evidence, the statement made by the Registrant to his employer’s disciplinary investigation on 16 February 2016, his written submission to the HCPC dated 24 May 2018 and his written submissions prepared for the previous adjourned HCPTS hearing on 24 October 2018. The Panel considered the oral evidence of Dr Wilkins, his report of 13 April 2018 and the earlier medical report from Dr Mulholland of 26 November 2017.

Dr Wilkins’ Evidence

23. The Panel found Dr Wilkins’ evidence helpful.  He was balanced, open and credible.  The Panel noted that in his report he expressed a number of views about the Registrant’s position and the claimed amnesia of the incident, as reported to him by the Registrant.

24. Dr Wilkins’ report sets out in detail what the Registrant told him and this is followed by his opinion. Dr Wilkins states that “there appears to be a number of possible explanations for Mr Penney’s behaviour at the time”. He then sets out four possible explanations:

• [Redacted];

• The Registrant may simply have experienced a lack of concentration and been “absent minded”;

• [Redacted];

• Dr Wilkins could not rule out the possibility that the Registrant was simply being dishonest.

25. Dr Wilkins expresses various views on possible causes for the Registrant’s position that he has no memory of the theft or any explanation for his actions. Dr Wilkins also points out that he cannot not exclude the possibility of dishonesty. In his oral evidence he made it clear that his views were theories, that he didn’t know what happened, and that he could be wrong.

26. The Panel had some difficulty assessing and reconciling the various explanations provided by Dr Wilkins.  He has provided a detailed analysis of what the Registrant reported to him about the incident and memory loss. He offered a number of possible explanations, some of which relate to the Registrant’s health condition and medication. However, in the Panel’s view, these explanations do not provide a conclusive answer to the cause of the Registrant’s behaviour on the day in question.

27. The Panel found Dr Wilkins’ report of some assistance, but ultimately found it was equivocal and theoretical as to the possible causes of the Registrant’s behaviour on the day, and the possible impact of the Registrant’s health condition and adjusted medication on his behaviour.

28. The Panel was mindful that Dr Wilkins’ report is based on what the Registrant told him.

Dr Mulholland

29. Dr Mulholland appears to have been instructed by the Registrant in respect of an appeal by the Registrant against the sanction imposed by his employer. Dr Mulholland examined the Registrant on 9 October 2017 and provided a report dated 26 November 2017. Dr Mulholland did not give oral evidence. The Panel noted that the report was based upon what the Registrant told him.

30. Dr Mulholland appears to speculate that the Registrant had no motive to steal items, and comments that he had the ability to pay for the items he took, which Dr Mulholland said were of no use to the Registrant.

31. The Panel gave little weight to the speculation and assumptions contained in the report.

The Registrant’s Evidence

32. The Panel carefully considered the Registrant’s written submissions, his statement made on 16 February 2016 to his employer’s disciplinary investigation and the medical reports detailing what the Registrant had told the doctors. It noted a number of inconsistencies about the Registrant’s account of the incident;

• In his account set out in Dr Mulholland’s report the Registrant states that he was parked in the city centre, he received a call from his senior manager to contact him immediately and was asked if he had been in Boots. The Registrant states that at this point in time he noticed a bag on the rear seat of his vehicle and realised it contained goods from Boots.  He then returned to base and placed the bag in the sluice room;

• Dr Wilkins’ report of 13 April 2018 details what the Registrant told him. The Panel noted that it states that he had parked in the city centre, had returned to base and then been asked to go to a fire station on standby, but as he was about to leave received a call from the duty controller asking him if he had been in Boots. He replied that he had not. The report then states the Registrant said that when he picked up his coat from the back seat of his vehicle he saw a bag.  He had then tried to contact the duty controller but learned that the Police had been in touch and reported that he had been seen on CCTV removing items from Boots. He had then returned to the Boots store but had left the bag at the ambulance station;

• In the Registrant’s statement given to his employer’s disciplinary investigation on 16 February 2016, another version of the incident is reported by the Registrant. He stated that he had parked at the rear of Boots on the day, did not remember how long he was there and remembers some time later being instructed to return to base.  At the base a tannoy call asked him to contact the Ambulance Control and he was then asked by his Duty Controller if he had been in Boots.  He replied he had not and was then informed that the Police had been in touch to say that a man matching his description had removed goods from Boots without paying. He was later asked to go on standby to the fire station. Before he left he noticed a bag in the back seat of his vehicle which he found contained goods from Boots.  He then tried to contact Ambulance Control, was unable to get through so he removed the bag and stored it at the sluice room at the ambulance station.

33. These three accounts are not consistent. The Registrant has recounted three different versions of the incident and, whilst some minor differences might be expected over time, the inconsistencies the Panel found are material differences in what the Registrant recalled of the incident, and the order of events on the day.

34. The Panel found that the Registrant sought in his oral evidence to be helpful, but that his evidence at times lacked cogency.

35. The Registrant was evasive on several occasions and gave oral evidence that was inconsistent with his written evidence. He was evasive about his employer’s knowledge of the current HCPC proceedings and he did not provide a full explanation of what they knew.  He indicated that some of his colleagues may know in general terms about the HCPC proceedings from the HCPC website, but that he had not told them.  Despite probing by Panel questions, the Registrant did not clearly explain what his operations manager knew about the Allegation and the HCPC proceedings.

36. Further, when the Registrant was asked by the Presenting Officer whether he was currently subject to any restrictions, he replied that he was “practising”. He was evasive in his responses to the Panel on the same matter. He told the Panel that he had been restricted to a double- manned ambulance for over a year, but was unclear as to the exact period of time and whether that was for reasons associated with the incident or his health.

37. The Panel noted from the NIAS documents dated 15 December 2017 that the Registrant was placed by his employer on a personalised training plan with an emphasis on professional standards and related expectations, addressing learning needs   The Registrant has not provided the Panel with any evidence of that plan, its progress or completion. The Panel has no evidence of what, if anything, the Registrant has done in this regard. 

38. The Panel noted an inconsistency in regards to the type of bag the stolen goods were stored in. Dr Mulholland makes reference to the Registrant entering Boots without a bag, but exiting with goods in a bag. In oral evidence the Registrant said it was a transparent bag and when questioned further he could not recall the type of bag. He did however at the outset of the hearing confirm that it was not a “Boots” bag. The Panel cannot draw any conclusions as to the origin, or type of bag used to transport the goods.

Assessment of Current Impairment of Fitness to Practise

39. The Panel reminded itself of the guidance in Cohen v GMC [2008] EWHC 581 (Admin);
“It must be highly relevant in determining if…fitness to practice [sic] is impaired that…first the conduct which led to the charge is easily remediable, second that it has been remedied and third that it is highly unlikely to be repeated”

40. It also considered the guidance in the Grant case;

“Do our findings of fact in respect of...caution show that his/her fitness to practise is impaired in the sense that he;

a) ……

b) Has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the profession into disrepute;

c) Has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the profession?

d) has in the past acted dishonestly and/or is liable to act dishonestly in the future.”

41. The Panel found that the Registrant expressed some remorse in respect of the impact on public perception and the profession. 

42. The Panel determined that the Registrant has not provided or shown evidence of insight into his behaviour, only a medical explanation. He did not appear to consider that he needed to reflect upon and provide evidence of his insight into the conduct which led to the Caution.

43. The Registrant is clear that he wholly attributes the incident to his health condition. He has offered that as the entire explanation for causing a complete memory loss, from the point of exiting his vehicle until leaving the stolen goods on the back seat of his vehicle. He has not expressed a sense of responsibility or culpability for the incident, although he said he was ashamed and apologised. The Panel noted from the Registrant’s written submission on 24 October 2018 that he says “I genuinely believe to this day that I am innocent of the criminal offence of theft.”

44. The Panel recognised that the conduct, being a Caution for theft, is not easy to remedy. However, the Registrant has not provided the Panel with any references or testimonials as to his honesty and integrity.

45. The Registrant has also not provided the Panel with any independent evidence of his current practice or relevant CPD as a Paramedic, despite being apparently currently employed on a full time basis in an ambulance service.

46. The Registrant provided the Panel with no references or testimonials from his current employer, or from any person. The Panel has no independent evidence of his current practice as a Paramedic.

47. The Panel has considered the medical evidence and the theories and explanations offered by Dr Wilkins and Dr Mulholland. The Panel also considered the Registrant’s evidence and his explanations of the incident. 

48. The Panel found that the Registrant’s evidence lacked consistency and was not credible. It does not accept the Registrant’s varying explanations of the incident and his claim to lack any recall of the incident, which differs in the explanations before this Panel.

49. Given the equivocal and theoretical nature of the medical evidence the Panel has concluded that it does not accept that the conduct resulting in the Caution was caused by, or is fully explained by, the Registrant’s medical condition.

50. Given the Panel’s conclusions in respect of both the Registrant’s evidence and the medical evidence, the Panel has decided that whilst the dishonest conduct which led to the Caution is not necessarily irremediable, it noted that there is no evidence of any attempt at remediation.  Accordingly, it is not possible to conclude that it is highly unlikely to be repeated, and so there remains a risk of repetition.

51. On the personal component, given the terms of the allegation the Panel concluded that the Registrant does not present a clinical risk to service users. His professional competence has not been brought into question but his conduct and lack of insight remain a matter of concern.

52. The Panel concluded that the Registrant has in the past and is liable in the future to bring the profession into disrepute; it concluded that he has in the past breached, and is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the profession, that of integrity; and he has in the past acted dishonestly and is liable to act dishonestly in the future.

53. On the public component the Panel was concerned as to the seriousness of the Caution for theft, a crime of dishonesty.  In the Panel’s view the public would be concerned that a Paramedic has received a Caution for theft whilst on duty, whilst using his employer’s vehicle and then placed the goods in the sluice at the ambulance station. The Panel decided that in order to maintain confidence in the profession and the Regulator, and to uphold and declare proper standards of behaviour that a finding of current impairment is required on the wider public interest grounds.

54. With the personal and public interest components in mind, the Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of the Caution.

Application to Proceed in the Absence of the Registrant

55. During its deliberations on the second day of the hearing the Panel received a letter from the Registrant’s GP advising that the Registrant was “upset” and would not be attending the hearing. The Hearings Officer emailed the Registrant and advised him that the Panel may be asked to consider proceeding with the hearing in his absence. The Registrant replied advising that he would not be attending the hearing. The Registrant also contacted the Hearing Officer on the third, and final, day of the hearing reiterating that he would not be attending. The Registrant did not ask for an adjournment of the hearing.

56. Ms Ryan made an application for the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.  She referred to the relevant rules and submitted that the Registrant was aware of the hearing, having attended on the first day. The Registrant had submitted a GP letter and had emailed the Hearings Officer advising that he would not be attending the rest of the hearing. He had not asked for an adjournment and there was nothing to indicate that an adjournment would secure his attendance.  There was a public interest in proceeding and Ms Ryan submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself. Proceedings ought not to be delayed waiting for a response to the decision from the Registrant.

57. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel is aware that its discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with care.  The Legal Assessor referred it to the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence. This makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been taken to serve the Registrant with notice. Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied on notice, the discretion whether or not to proceed must be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, with fairness to the Registrant being a prime consideration, but with fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public also considered.  

58. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has notice and knows about the hearing as he had attended on the first day. It took account of the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant and weighed its responsibility for public protection and the expeditious disposal of a case with the Registrant’s right to a fair hearing.  In reaching its decision the Panel considered the emails from the Registrant and the GP letter.  No medical reason for adjournment is set out in that letter.  The Registrant knows about the hearing and he has clearly stated he will not attend.  He has not made an application to adjourn the hearing. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has voluntarily absented himself from the hearing and, having weighed the public interest against the Registrant’s interests, the Panel decided to proceed in his absence.

59. The Panel considered the possibility of private matters arising.  It decided that in light of the emails from the Registrant that it would be fair and appropriate to allow his sister, who has attended in his support, to be present in the hearing should it hear any matters in private.

60. The Panel determined that whilst the Decision on Facts, Grounds and Impairment will be sent to him by email as requested by him, there will be no further correspondence with the Registrant as he has voluntarily absented himself.

Sanction:

Submissions on Sanction

61. The Panel heard from Ms Ryan. She referred to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and reminded the Panel to consider the degree of public protection required and the proportionality of any sanction to be imposed. She submitted that the Panel should consider the sanctions in ascending order. Ms Ryan made no submissions as to the appropriate sanction.

62. Ms Ryan submitted that the aggravating features were:

• The events occurred whilst the Registrant was on duty;

• The inconsistency in the Registrant’s evidence;

• The lack of insight and responsibility for his behaviour;

• The lack of evidence of current practice and employment and his current health position;

• The lack of remediation.

63. Ms Ryan submitted the mitigating feature was that the Panel found there was no clinical risk to service users.

64. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel to consider the ISP and to consider any sanction in ascending order and to apply the least restrictive sanction necessary to protect the public. It should act proportionately and consider any aggravating and mitigating factors and also bear in mind the public interest. He reminded the Panel to balance the public interest with the interests of the Registrant and that the primary purpose of sanction was protection of the public. 

Decision on Sanction

65. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and reminded itself that the primary purpose of sanction is to protect the public. It was also mindful of the public interest. It considered the guidance in the ISP.  The Panel had regard to its findings on impairment and the lack of insight and remediation by the Registrant.

66. The Panel considered that the aggravating features were:

• His persistent denial of responsibility for his behaviour;

• His lack of insight and responsibility for his behaviour;

• The lack of remediation in respect of honesty and integrity;

• The events occurred whilst the Registrant was on duty, in uniform using a service vehicle;

• The inconsistencies in the Registrant’s evidence.

67. As regards mitigating factors the Panel noted that the Registrant has said he has been practising as a full time Paramedic since his reinstatement in December 2017. He has apologised for the impact on the reputation of the profession and has shown remorse. It found the following were mitigating factors:

• No clinical risk to service users;

• It was an isolated incident;

• The Registrant was previously of good character.

68. The Panel approached sanction, beginning with the least restrictive first, bearing in mind the need for proportionality.

69. Taking no further action and the sanction of a Caution Order would not reflect the gravity and nature of the allegation, which involves dishonesty.  The Panel has found that there is a risk of repetition, a lack of insight and there has been no remedial action by the Registrant. The Panel decided that such orders would not be adequate or proportionate to protect the public given the nature and gravity of the allegation and the findings on impairment.

70. As regards the wider public interest, the gravity of the allegation is such that taking no further action or a Caution Order would not be adequate or sufficient to uphold proper standards and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. The Panel found that neither order is appropriate or proportionate in the circumstances of this case.

71. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. The allegation found proved is serious.  The Panel considered paragraph 33 of the ISP.  It requires to be satisfied that the Registrant can and will comply with Conditions.  It also requires to consider whether the Registrant is genuinely committed to resolving the issues and can be trusted to make a determined effort to do so. The Panel was also mindful of the need to devise conditions that are proportionate, workable, realistic and verifiable. 

72. The Registrant’s clinical competence is not an issue.  However, a Paramedic is an autonomous practitioner and works as the clinical lead. Conditions of practice, such as imposing a requirement for direct, or indirect supervision, would not address the behaviour that led to the Caution and therefore would not be realistic or workable.

73. In its findings on impairment the Panel has found that the Registrant lacked insight and his evidence lacked credibility.  He has not accepted responsibility for, or explained, his behaviour (the claimed health issues aside) which involves dishonesty whilst on duty. The Panel was concerned that the Registrant has not been open and honest. The Panel was particularly concerned that the Registrant was evasive about his present employment situation and whether his employers knew of the HCPC proceedings. 

74. The Panel may only apply conditions of practice that it can expect the Registrant to be willing and able to comply with them.  The Panel is of the view that, even if workable conditions could be devised, it cannot be confident of trusting the Registrant to comply with them given the circumstances referred to above in paragraph 83. Dishonesty is, in any event, a behaviour which is not liable to be effectively or appropriately addressed by conditions of practice.

75. In these circumstances, the Panel has concluded that it cannot formulate realistic, workable, appropriate or proportionate conditions of practice. It also decided that a Conditions of Practice Order, given the nature and seriousness of the allegation, would not sufficiently address the public interest.  It would fail to uphold and declare proper standards and would fail to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulator.

76. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. The allegation is serious. The Registrant has been dishonest and breached a fundamental tenet of the profession. The Panel has not accepted his version of the incident that led to the Caution. The Registrant has not been open and honest about either the incident or his current practice circumstances.

77. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. It took note of paragraphs 39 and 41 of the ISP. The Panel considers that the Registrant is in a position to address and remedy his failings, although he has not yet done so. There is the potential for the Registrant to reflect, understand, address and remedy his behaviour in respect of this isolated but serious incident. 

78. A Suspension Order would also be sufficient to protect the public interest, to uphold public confidence in the profession, and to provide a deterrent to the profession.  A member of the public would expect that a Paramedic who has committed theft whilst on duty is suspended to mark the seriousness of the behaviour, the dishonesty and breach of trust involved. The Panel therefore concluded that a Suspension Order is the proportionate and appropriate Sanction.

79. The Panel decided that a period of 6 months of Suspension was proportionate in the circumstances of this isolated incident. This period will also allow the Registrant sufficient time to reflect upon the behaviour and to consider and address relevant remediation.

80. Given the isolated nature of the incident and the potential remediability of the behaviour that led to the Caution, the Panel considered that a Striking Off Order would not be a proportionate or appropriate sanction and would be punitive.

81. A reviewing panel may be assisted by the Registrant providing the following:

• References/testimonials from other colleagues/health care professionals that address the Registrant’s honesty and integrity;

• Professional development relevant to insight, honesty and integrity;

• Evidence of insight into the impact of the incident on the public and the profession, and reflection on his actions and behaviour;

• Information in respect of his current employment circumstances.

Interim Order:

82. The Panel heard from Ms Ryan and took account of all the information before it. She submitted that an interim order was necessary on public protection and public interest grounds given the Panel’s earlier findings. The Registrant had been put on notice about the possibility of interim orders following a Final hearing in the HCPC letter to him of 13 March 2019. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He referred it to the HCPTS Practice Notes on Proceeding in Absence and on Interim Orders and reminded the Panel that the primary purpose of an interim order is protection of the public, and that it is necessary to balance the interests of the Registrant with the need to protect the public.

83. There has been no change in circumstances since the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant and it determined to do so in respect of the interim order application.

84. The Panel was mindful of its earlier findings and it decided that it would be wholly incompatible with those findings, and with the sanction imposed, to conclude that an Interim Order is not necessary for protection of the public or in the public interest. Given its findings the Panel determined that it is appropriate that a Suspension Order is imposed on an interim basis for a period of 18 months to cover any appeal period.  When the appeal period expires this interim order will come to an end unless there has been an application to appeal.  If there is no appeal the Suspension Order shall apply.

 

 

 

 

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to suspend the name of Michael C Penney from the register for a period of 6 months the date this order comes into effect

 

 

Notes

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 27 December 2019.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Michael C Penney

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
28/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
23/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned