Mr Callum Watt

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH109731

Hearing Type: Consent Order Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 29/04/2020 End: 17:00 29/04/2020

Location: Hearing taking place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

Whilst registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council as a Physiotherapist:
 
1. On 22 November 2018, at Blackburn Magistrates Court, were convicted of driving a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your blood, namely 156 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood exceeded the prescribed limit. Contrary to Section 5 (1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
 
2. By reason of your conviction your fitness to practise is impaired.
 

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Service
1. The Panel found that there had been good service of the Notice of Hearing. A letter dated 11 February 2020 was sent to the Registrant’s registered address informing him of the date, time and venue of a proposed hearing on 15 April 2020 to consider the appropriateness of a disposal by consent. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this hearing was postponed. An amendment Notice was sent to the Registrant’s e-mail address on 31 March 2020 informing him that the hearing was rescheduled to be considered on the papers on 29 April 2020. The Registrant’s legal representative confirmed by email on 8 April 2020 that the Registrant did not object to the hearing proceeding in his absence and on the papers. A further amendment Notice was sent by e-mail on 17 April 2020 proposing that the hearing should take place remotely by video conference. The Registrant’s representative confirmed that the Registrant agreed to this proposal in an e-mail dated 22 April 2020.

Proceeding in absence of the Registrant
2. Ms Sheridan submitted that the Panel should proceed with the hearing under Rule 11 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules. In written submissions Mr Jolliffe confirmed that the Registrant had no objection to the hearing proceeding in his absence.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and applied the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel considered that it was in the interests of both parties and the public interest that the hearing to consider the proposal for a disposal by consent should proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Registrant has waived his right to attend the hearing and has provided written submissions on the basis that the hearing will proceed in his absence. In these circumstances the Panel decided to exercise its discretion to proceed with the hearing.

Background
5. The Registrant is a registered Physiotherapist, who was employed with Bridgewater Community NHS Foundation Trust.

6. The Registrant self-referred himself to the HCPC on 26 November 2018 to advise that on 22 November 2018, he was convicted of a drink driving offence which occurred on 7 July 2018. The Registrant received a fine and was disqualified from driving for 17 months as set out in a Certificate of Conviction.

7. The Registrant provided details of the offence, stating that on 7 July 2018, he attended a family party and had been drinking. He states that he had to park his car further down the road than he would have ordinarily done so, and that when a nearer parking space became available he decided to move his car. Unfortunately, he hit a parked car whilst moving parking spaces.

8. The Registrant’s employer was contacted by the HCPC to inform them of their investigation, to which they responded that they had no concerns regarding the Registrant’s health and/or alcohol use and that he was open and honest regarding the incident. His employer did not take any action and advised that they did not plan to take any further action in the future in respect of this matter.

9. The matter was referred to the Investigating Committee Panel (“ICP”) on 16 September 2019 who decided that there was a case to answer with respect to the conviction allegation.

10. The HCPC reviewed the case and considered the circumstances suitable for disposal by way of consent as the allegation related to an isolated incident. The Registrant also accepted the substance of the allegation and admits that his fitness to practise is impaired. The Registrant was asked to confirm his position in respect of disposing of the case by means of consent by a Caution for a period of two years.

11. Mr Jolliffe, the Registrant’s representative, sent an e-mail to the HCPC on 25 November 2019 confirming that the Registrant wished to proceed by the consent process and did not contest the allegation. The Registrant’s representative also referred to the Registrant’s reflective statement and testimonials demonstrating insight and remorse and his wish to continue practicing as a Physiotherapist.

Amendment of the Allegation
12. Ms Sheridan, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application to amend the allegation to correct inaccuracies. The inaccuracies in the allegation were highlighted by the Registrant in his response to the allegation on 6 August 2018. Unfortunately, the error in the initial allegation with the inaccuracies was inserted into the ICP decision confirming the allegation.

13. The inaccuracies in the allegation are that the date of the conviction is incorrect and that the there is a reference to the proportion of alcohol in the Registrant’s breath, whereas the conviction statement refers to the proportion of alcohol in the Registrant’s blood.

14. Mr Jolliffe, on behalf of the Registrant, agreed and supported the application made by the HCPC to amend the allegation as proposed by the HCPC.

15. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and decided to exercise its discretion to correct the inaccuracies in the allegation, as proposed by the HCPC and the Registrant. The allegation as amended reads:
“On 22 November 2018, at Blackburn Magistrates Court, were convicted of driving a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your blood, namely 156 millilitres of blood exceeded the prescribed limit. Contrary to Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.”

Decision
16. Ms Sheridan, on behalf of the HCPC, and Mr Jolliffe, on behalf of the Registrant submitted that the matter was suitable for disposal by way of consent and invited the Panel to approve the proposed Consent Order.

17. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note on Consent Orders.

18. The Panel made its own assessment of the circumstances relating to the conviction, the level of insight demonstrated by the Registrant, and the wider public interest considerations.

19. The Panel noted that the Registrant fully engaged with the HCPC and his employer. In his reflective statement he took full responsibility for the incident and recognised its seriousness for both himself and the potential impact on the reputation of his profession. He expressed his remorse, describing that he felt ashamed of his conviction and apologising. The Registrant also provided supportive character testimonials. The Registrant has retained the full support of his employer throughout.

20. The Panel carefully considered the circumstances of the incident and noted that there were no underlying health concerns and that there has been no repetition since the incident which occurred in 2018. The judgment of the Panel was that the incident was due to a momentary lapse of judgment on the part of the Registrant and not indicative of his normal character.

21. The Panel’s assessment was that the Registrant has demonstrated insight and that the risk of repetition is low.

22. The Panel gave careful consideration to the wider public interest considerations including the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession. This was a serious driving conviction and the Registrant’s behaviour exposed members of the public to the risk of harm. On the other hand, it was an isolated incident which is not likely to be repeated and the Registrant has demonstrated insight and expressed remorse and regret. In the Panel’s judgment a proportionate response to the Registrant’s departure from the standards of conduct is a Caution Order. A Caution Order marks the Regulator’s disapproval of the Registrant’s conduct and sends a clear message to other registrants.

23. In the Panel’s judgment, a Caution Order is sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. An informed member of the public would expect action to be taken, but would accept that this case does not involve an ongoing risk to members of the public.

24. The Panel considered that a two year Caution is appropriate and proportionate to mark the seriousness of the Registrant’s conduct, taking into account the nature of the incident and the Registrant’s conduct since the incident.

25. The Panel therefore decided to approve the proposed Consent Order.

Order

Order by Consent

That the Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that for a period of 24 months from the date that this order comes into effect [29 April 2020], you, Callum Watt, are subject to a Caution Order. 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Callum Watt

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
29/04/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Consent Order Hearing Caution