Mr John Wooliscroft
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By Reason of your physical and/ or mental health, your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired as set out in Schedule A.
1. On 30 June 2020, the HCPC sent a notice of this hearing by email to the Registrant’s registered address, as recorded on the HCPC register. The notice set out the details of the time and date of the hearing, together with information that the hearing would be held remotely in accordance with current Government guidelines in respect of the Corona virus pandemic.
2. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. She advised the Panel in respect of Rule 3 and Rule 6 of the Health and Care Professions Council (Health Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (the Rules), that while the Rules provide that service ‘may’ be sent by first class post, this does not preclude service being sent by email to the Registrant’s email address as it appears in the register. In the present circumstances, given the nature of the current pandemic, the Panel was satisfied on the documentary evidence provided, that the Registrant had been given appropriate notice of this hearing it in accordance with the Rules.
Proceeding in Absence
3. Ms Sheridan applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. She drew the Panel’s attention to the Practice Note, and submitted that the nature and circumstances of the Registrant’s absence where such that his absence was voluntary and he had waived his right to attend.
4. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who advised the Panel in accordance with R v Jones  UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba; GMC v Visvardis  EWCA Civ 162.
5. The Panel was mindful that there had been no engagement from the Registrant at any stage of these proceedings, despite numerous attempts by the HCPC to contact him. Having been satisfied of good service, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant’s absence was voluntary, and he had waived his right to attend. No adjournment had been sought by the Registrant, and there was no suggestion, given his lack of engagement, that he would attend if the matter were adjourned. The Panel bore in mind its statutory objective to protect the health and safety of the public, and given the nature of the health conditions alleged, the Panel was of the view that there was a strong public interest in continuing. In the absence of any engagement from the Registrant, the Panel did not identify any undue disadvantage to him in continuing in his absence. Accordingly, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
Application for hearing to be in private
6. Ms Sheridan, on behalf of the HCPC, applied for the whole of the hearing to be held in private, given that the Allegation against the Registrant related to health, and would involve sensitive and personal details about the Registrant and his family.
7. Having heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel decided that it was justified in holding the entirety of the hearing in private in order to protect the private life of the Registrant. The Panel had regard to the fact that the Allegation faced by the Registrant was that his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his health; and that the evidence to be adduced related primarily to his health, personal and family circumstances. In these circumstances the Panel determines that the information was of such a sensitive and personal nature that it should not be in the public domain.
Decision on Sanction
8. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his health, the Panel next went on to consider whether it was impaired to a degree which required action to be taken on his registration.
9. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and exercised its independent judgement. It had regard to the most recent version of the Sanctions Policy (the Policy) and considered the sanctions in ascending order of severity. The Panel was aware that the purpose of a sanction is not to be punitive but to protect members of the public and to safeguard the public interest, which includes the collective need to protect the public, to maintain public confidence in the profession, and to uphold standards in the profession.
10. The Panel first considered the options of taking no action or imposing a Caution Order. Given that the Panel had concluded that there was [redacted] a consequential risk to the public, the Panel did not consider that these options, which did not restrict the Registrant’s practice, would properly protect the public or address the wider public interest.
11. The Panel did not consider that the option of mediation was appropriate in the context of a health case.
12. The Panel next considered whether the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order would be the appropriate and proportionate response. [Redacted]. In all the circumstances, the Panel was not satisfied that a Conditions of Practice Order was the sufficient and proportionate response at this time.
13. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order and concluded that this was the appropriate and proportionate sanction, both to protect the public and to address the wider public interest. Such an Order would protect the public for the period of time for which it was in place, as well as providing the Registrant the space to seek professional treatment [Redacted].
14. The Panel considered that the length of the Order should be for 12 months. This was with a view to allowing the Registrant to seek professional treatment and take the steps required to address and manage his health condition. It would also afford him the opportunity to re-engage with the HCPC, cooperate with any health assessment sought, and to demonstrate a significant period of successful management of his health condition [Redacted].
15. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from working as a Paramedic for the period that it was in force. However, in the circumstances of this case, the Panel was satisfied that a 12 months Suspension Order was required to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession, and this outweighed the Registrant’s own interests.
Order: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr John Wooliscroft for a period of 12 months
1. The substantive matter having concluded, Ms Sheridan applied for an Interim Order of Suspension for a period of 18 months to cover the period before the substantive Order takes effect, or if the Registrant were to appeal, before that appeal is resolved or otherwise disposed of.
2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been notified in the notice of hearing, dated 30 June 2020, of the Panel’s power to impose an Interim Order, in the event that the allegation was well-founded and a sanction of Conditions of Practice, Suspension or Strike Off was imposed. For the same reasons given for proceeding in absence with the substantive hearing, the Panel was satisfied that it was appropriate to proceed with the HCPC application for an Interim Order.
3. Having heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel makes an Interim Suspension under Article 31(2) of the Health Professions Order 2001, to cover the period of 28 days before the Substantive Order takes effect, or if the Registrant appeals, until that appeal is determined or otherwise disposed of.
4. For the same reasons given in its decision on sanction, the Panel is satisfied that such an Interim Order is required to protect members of the public, is otherwise in the public interest. It is also satisfied that such an Order is in the Registrant’s own interest, [Redacted]. As set out in the substantive decision, conditions are not appropriate in this case, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement.
5. The Interim Order will be for a period of 18 months, to take into account the potential length of time required if the Registrant appeals, for that appeal to be determined or otherwise disposed of.
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; or (if the Registrant appeals), upon the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.