Mr Ray Chapman

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA15230

Interim Order: Imposed on 06 Mar 2018

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

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

Location: England, London, Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Paramedic:

  1. On 21 November 2017, at Humberside Magistrates Court, you were convicted of assault by beating contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1998.
  1. By reason of that conviction, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters
Hearing in private
1. It became apparent, once the Registrant gave his evidence, that details of difficult family circumstances were relevant to the case. Having heard the advice of the Legal Assessor, and listened to the parties, who did not object, the Panel decided to hear the entirety of the Registrant’s evidence in private, in order to protect his private life and that of his family, pursuant to Rule 10(1)(a) of the Conduct and Competence Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).

Background
2. The Registrant is a registered Paramedic. At the time of the matter referred to in Particular 1, he was, and still is, employed by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. On 21 November 2017 he was convicted of assault by beating, contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. He was sentenced to a Community Order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement of up to 20 days, to be completed by 10 December 2018, a fine of £20 and was directed to pay prosecution costs in the sum of £100.

Decision on facts
3. The Panel read the hearing bundle produced by the HCPC, as well as the bundle submitted on behalf of the Registrant, which included numerous testimonials and references and heard the oral evidence of the Registrant.

4. The Panel was aware that the burden of proof in respect of the factual Allegation lies on the HCPC and that it must discharge that burden on the balance of probabilities.

Particular 1 – found proved
5. The Registrant admitted this Particular.

6. The Panel had before it a certified copy of the Memorandum of Conviction from the Magistrates’ Court which evidenced the conviction set out in the Particular.

7. The Panel bore in mind Rule 10(1)(d) which states that “a certified copy of the certificate of conviction…shall be admissible as proof of that conviction and of the findings of fact upon which it was based”.

8. In light of the evidence before it, the Panel found this Particular proved. 

Decision on impairment
9. The Panel then went on to consider whether, as a result of the conviction, the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

10. The Panel heard the submissions of Ms Hastie that the Registrant is impaired on the basis of both the personal and public components of impairment. Ms Fletcher submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired.

11. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to CHRE v (1) NMC (2) Grant [2011] EWHC 927. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled ‘Conviction and Caution Allegations’ and ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’.

12. The Practice Note entitled ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’ states, amongst other matters,  that in determining whether fitness to practise is impaired, panels must take account of a range of issues which, in essence, comprise two components:
i. the personal component which includes insight, the risk of repetition, whether the matters raised are remediable and whether there has been remediation by the Registrant.
ii. the public component which includes the need to protect service users, maintain confidence in the profession, declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

13. The Panel was aware that impairment is a matter for its own independent judgment and that public protection and the wider public interest should be considered.
 
14. In terms of remediation, the Panel considered the Registrant’s oral and documentary evidence regarding the rehabilitation element of his sentence which he has now completed, as well as the counselling which he undertook, as organised by his employer, and the support and help which it gave him in terms of dealing with his difficult family circumstances. The Panel also took into account that the Registrant has remained with the same employer, and apart from being placed on administrative duties for a short time, continued to work for approximately 18 months as a Paramedic since the incident in question without any further concerns. The Panel also took into account that this was a single conviction, arising out of difficult and unusual family circumstances, in a career spanning 18 years as a frontline Paramedic, without any previous disciplinary concerns or matters of violence alleged against him. The Panel also took into account the Registrant’s numerous testimonials, including from his Locality Manager, which attest to his abilities as a Paramedic. Taking into account the evidence before it, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had sufficiently remediated the concerns which gave rise to the incident in question.

15. With regard to the Registrant’s insight, the Panel was of the view that this was still developing. The Panel noted that while the Registrant accepts the Magistrates’ court decision, he does not accept that he was guilty of assault, stating that he acted in self-defence, although he agreed that this was not accepted by the Magistrates’ Court. The Panel took into account Ms Hastie’s submission that the Registrant’s continued failure to accept his wrongdoing demonstrated a lack of insight. The Panel was of the view that this in itself could not inevitably lead to a finding that he lacked insight. However, regardless of this issue, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant, when giving his evidence, did not demonstrate any meaningful reflection.

16. The Panel has not seen a written reflective piece from the Registrant, but read an email from the Registrant dated 17 December 2018 to his solicitor which presents some brief reflections. In the Panel’s view, this was not sufficiently deep or insightful and only in a limited way did it identify the impact on public confidence in the profession resulting from the conviction.

17. The Panel took into account the questions formulated by Dame Janet Smith in the Fifth Shipman report, as set out in the case of Grant and which ask whether the practitioner:

“a. has in the past acted and/ or is liable in the future to act so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm; and/ or

b. has in the past brought and/ or is liable in the future to bring the…profession into disrepute” and/ or

c. has in the past breached and/ or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the…profession; and/ or…..”

18. The last question relates to dishonesty which is not an issue in this case and the Panel disregarded it.

19.  In considering the questions, the Panel decided that the Registrant had not in the past acted so as to put a patient at unwarranted risk of harm, nor was there grounds to determine that he is liable to do so in the future.

20. The Panel considered whether the Registrant had in the past brought the profession into disrepute by his actions, or breached a fundamental tenet of his profession and concluded that he had. The Panel was of the view that in receiving a conviction for an assault, he breached the following Standards:

Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics
9.1 You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.

Standards of Proficiency Paramedics
3.1 understand the need to maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct

21. Whilst the Panel found the Registrant’s insight was still developing, in light of the very unusual set of family circumstances which led to the incident, subject of the conviction, the Panel was satisfied that the risk of repetition is low. Therefore the Registrant is not liable to bring the profession into disrepute or breach fundamental tenets in the future.

22. The Panel went on to consider the public component. The role of a paramedic, incorporates a responsibility in maintaining high personal as well as professional standards which are necessary for public confidence in the professional exercising that role. The Panel had in mind that this was a single conviction, stemming from unusual and difficult family circumstances which are unlikely to recur. However, bearing in mind the domestic context of the assault, the Panel considered that the Registrant breached fundamental tenets and brought the profession into disrepute by receiving a conviction for.

23. While no harm or risk of harm to a patient was caused by the Registrant’s actions, the Panel decided that his conviction has an adverse impact upon confidence in the profession. In the Panel’s view, a reasonable member of the public, informed of all the facts and circumstances of the case, would be concerned by the Registrant’s actions and would have his or her confidence in the profession undermined.

24. For the reasons set out above, in the Panel’s view, it would also undermine confidence in the regulator if no action was taken by the Panel. As such, the Panel was of the view that the need to uphold proper professional standards and maintain public confidence in the profession, and also the regulator, would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the particular circumstances of this case.

25. The Panel therefore found the Registrant’s current fitness to practise to be impaired on the basis of the public component.

Decision on sanction 
26. The Panel heard the submissions of Ms Hastie that sanction is a matter for the Panel’s own judgment, and that its purpose is to protect the public interest and must be proportionate. 

27. Ms Fletcher submitted that it would be appropriate to impose a Caution Order although there is no requirement to impose a sanction.

28. The Panel took into account all of the oral and documentary evidence, read the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP), and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that the aim of sanction is not to be punitive. Rather, the aim is to protect the public interest. Sanction is a matter for the independent judgment of the Panel. The Panel took into account the principle of proportionality in coming to its decision on sanction.

29. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
i. the particular difficult domestic circumstances which led to the incident;
ii. a single conviction in an otherwise unblemished career of 21 years, 18 years of which have been on the frontline;
iii. good references and testimonials;
iv. low risk of repetition.

30. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors:
i. the  physical impact of the incident on the Registrant’s victim;
ii. the emotional impact of the incident on both the Registrant’s victim.

31.  The Panel considered taking no further action. The Panel took into account paragraph 8 of the ISP which states:

“Even if a Panel has determined that fitness to practise is impaired, it is not obliged to impose a sanction. This is likely to be an exceptional outcome but, for example, may be appropriate in cases where a finding of impairment has been reached on the wider public interest grounds identified above but where the registrant has insight, has already taken remedial action and there is no risk of repetition.”

32. The Panel was of the view that taking no further action would not be appropriate, because it would not satisfy the public interest and address the need to maintain confidence in the profession and to uphold proper standards, in light of the nature of the conviction.

33. The Panel considered a Caution Order and took into account paragraph 28 of the ISP which states as follows:

“A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action. A caution order should also be considered in cases where the nature of the allegation means that meaningful practice restrictions cannot be imposed but where the registrant has shown insight, the conduct concerned is out of character, the risk of repetition is low and thus suspension from practice would be disproportionate. A caution order is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where the registrant lacks insight.”

34. The Panel took into account its findings at the impairment stage that the Registrant had not placed a patient at risk, nor was he liable to do so in the future. He has been found impaired on the basis of the need to uphold the wider public interest which includes maintaining public confidence in the profession. While the Registrant has not demonstrated full insight, he has shown developing insight. In addition, he has sufficiently remediated his actions and the risk of repetition is low. He has also continued to work without concerns for the same employer, he has continued to mentor students, and he is held in high regard as a Paramedic, as demonstrated by the significant number of testimonials. In addition, the Registrant has completed his Community Order, including the rehabilitation element.

35. On the basis of the above, the Panel was of the view that a Caution Order would be appropriate, proportionate, and sufficient to uphold the public interest. The Panel decided a duration of 2 years would reflect the nature of the conviction, but was not at the upper end of the duration which could potentially be imposed, reflecting the mitigating circumstances, and the Registrant’s remediation, previous good record, and continuing good practice.

36. Because there are no concerns about the Registrant’s practice, the Panel’s view was that there was no basis to restrict his practice. Thus, conditions of practice would not be appropriate, and a Suspension Order would be wholly disproportionate, in light of the matters set out above.

37. The Panel therefore decided to impose a Caution Order for a period of 2 years.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Mr Ray Chapman with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 2 years from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Ray Chapman

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
17/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution