Mr Shamim Uddin

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA41493

Interim Order: Imposed on 16 Jul 2019

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 06/07/2020 End: 17:00 07/07/2020

Location: Virtual via video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

While registered with the Health and Care Professions Council as a Paramedic;

1. On 19 December 2018 at the Shrewsbury Crown Court you were convicted of;

a. 7 counts of Using False Instruments

2. By reason of your conviction, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background
1. The Registrant is a registered Paramedic. He was employed as a Paramedic by the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (the Trust) for a period of some four years until he left the Trust in 2018. Outside of this role he owned a company, SAS Training Academy Ltd (SAS), of which he was sole director. SAS was approved by various awarding bodies to offer training and assessments for regulated work in a number of areas for candidates seeking various qualifications. For example, SAS was approved by the British Institute of Innkeepers Awarding Body (BIIAB) to deliver training and examination to those wishing to work within the private security industry.

2. Following an investigation, the Registrant was alleged to have falsified documents and certificates relating to training offered by SAS in respect of the period between January and May 2015. Those documents resulted in candidates receiving qualifications which they otherwise would not have earned.

3. On 19 December 2018 at Shrewsbury Crown Court, the Registrant pleaded guilty to seven counts of using false instruments. On 29 March 2019 the Registrant was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £2000 fine and a £140 victim surcharge.

Decision on Facts
4. The Panel read the HCPC’s bundle and the Registrant’s bundle.

5. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Bagott, as well as the evidence and submissions of the Registrant. The Panel was aware that the burden of proof in respect of facts is on the HCPC to the civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.

6. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Conviction and Caution Allegations”, and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

7. The Panel took into account Rule 10(1)(d) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 which provides that where a Registrant has been convicted of a criminal offence, 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. The Registrant admitted that he had received the conviction as set out in the HCPC’s Allegation. 

9. The Panel had sight of a certified and signed Certificate of Conviction issued by Shrewsbury Crown Court on 21 May 2019 referring to seven counts of using false instruments, and recording that the Registrant had pleaded guilty.

10. Taking into account the Registrant’s admission as well as the Certificate of Conviction, the Panel was satisfied that the factual Particulars were proved. 

Decision on Grounds and Impairment
11. Having found the factual Particular proved, which, as a conviction, forms the statutory ground upon which a finding of impairment may be based, the Panel then went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

12. The Panel considered all of the documents before it in the HCPC’s hearing bundle, including the transcript of the arraignment hearing on 19 December 2018 and the transcript of the Judge’s sentencing remarks on 29 March 2019. The Panel also read the Registrant’s bundle which included a reflective statement, a pre-sentence report, an outstanding service award dated 2017 issued by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, and several character references.

13. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Bagott that the Panel may consider that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the basis of the personal and public components.

14. The Registrant expressed shame and embarrassment for his criminal offending. He accepted that he knew in 2015 that he had committed criminal offences by falsifying documents. He stated that the whole train of events had begun when he had reported an advert in “Gumtree” which had purported to show that SAS was selling Pearson Edexcel Door Supervisor Certificates with no training required. The Registrant gave evidence that this advert was posted maliciously by a rival company and that he himself had reported it to Pearson. As a result, SAS fell under investigation, its operation was suspended, and as a result of his panic, the Registrant altered documentation to enable candidates, who had already paid the relevant fees to SAS, to receive qualifications. The Registrant stated that this was not as a result of malice or premeditation, and was as a result of “panic” and “stupidity” which took place over only five months.

15. The Registrant stated that at the same time as running SAS, he had been attending Staffordshire University while training to be a Paramedic and was undertaking his placement with the Trust which eventually offered him employment. He told the Panel that his career had progressed well since he qualified in 2014, eventually becoming a mentor and trainer of other Paramedics. He also gave evidence that he was appointed as a magistrate on 22 June 2016. Further, after he had left the Trust, he began a non-clinical role with Health Education England shortly before he was sentenced in March 2019. The Registrant’s evidence was that there had never been any concerns with his practice over a period of some four years as a Paramedic, and that he did not accept that his fitness to practise was currently impaired. He asked that he be given the opportunity to prove that he is honest and trustworthy and that he is determined to prove himself.

16. 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 Note entitled “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”. 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.

17. The Panel considered all of the evidence, both oral and documentary. In giving his evidence, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant did his best to answer questions.

18. The Registrant has completed his sentence including his licence period, and is now on post-sentence supervision which expires on 29 July 2020.

19. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity which indicated a degree of insight. The Panel also took into account that he was sentenced on the basis that he was a person of good character without prior convictions.

20. The Panel had in mind the following fundamental tenet of the profession from the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2016):

“9 Be honest and trustworthy
Personal and professional behaviour
9.1 You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.”

21. The Panel was of the view that the Registrant, by way of his conduct which led to the conviction for serious dishonesty offences, was in breach of this standard.

22. The Registrant stated that he has recently undergone training in trade skills and now works, via employment agencies, in construction sites, and fitting kitchens and bathrooms.

23. The Registrant accepted during his evidence before the Panel that, when he was interviewed, on 7 November 2016, under caution by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) about the offences, he accepted that there were incorrect details on the paperwork submitted to the exam boards by SAS but attributed them to administrative and human error. This was despite his acceptance in evidence today that he knew in 2015 that he had committed criminal offences.

24. In cross-examination, the Registrant confirmed that he did not volunteer to the BIIAB that he had falsified the documents. The Registrant also confirmed that he did not tell the Trust that he had been convicted. The Registrant also stated in evidence that when he applied to Health Education England (HED) he did not reveal that he had been convicted, as that question was not asked in the application form. When offered the role by HED he only mentioned that he was under investigation. He told the Panel that he was awaiting the sentence as that would inform what he told HED.

25. In addition, the Registrant confirmed that before he was interviewed by the SIA in November 2016 under caution, he had applied to become a magistrate eventually being appointed as such on 22 June 2016. In cross-examination, he stated he did not disclose his criminal behaviour during the process of his application or during his tenure because he was not at the time under investigation by the SIA. However, he confirmed that while he was sitting in judgment on others as a magistrate, including making judgments on dishonesty offences, he did not consider that he should bring his previous criminal behaviour to light.

26. When questioned, the Registrant accepted that in hindsight, he should have made disclosures of his wrongdoing to the BIIAB, prior to his guilty plea in December 2018. He also accepted that in hindsight he should have disclosed his conviction to the Trust and HED.

27. The Panel was of the view that the Registrant had incomplete insight into the severity of his criminal behaviour. He did not declare to two employers that he had pleaded guilty in the crown court to seven offences of dishonesty. When asked why he had not, in evidence, the Registrant accepted in hindsight that he should have. However, he demonstrated limited understanding of why he should have done so, as well as the importance of honesty and openness as a registered professional. The Panel decided that he acted out of self-interest in this regard. The Panel did take into account that the Registrant now tells his employment agencies about his convictions, but, as stated by the Registrant, this is in the context of having been assisted by the Probation Service to find employers which are willing to employ those with convictions.

28. The Registrant’s evidence, repeated a number of times, was that his criminal behaviour was not premeditated. The Panel did not accept this. His actions required a degree of thought and planning and were carried out over some months. The Panel was of the view that the Registrant’s characterisation of his actions as arising out of “panic” and “stupidity” while at the same time emphasising that they were not planned, was indicative of a lack of insight into the seriousness of his criminal behaviour. 

29. In addition, the Panel considered the Registrant’s evidence regarding the impact of the dishonesty which led to the conviction. While the Registrant referred to the need for public confidence in him and in the profession, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant’s insight and reflection upon his criminal behaviour was not sufficiently deep or developed. He stated that if allowed to practise, he could inspire confidence in the public by his practice as a Paramedic and the care he would give to patients. However, he did not demonstrate a real understanding of the severity of the conviction and the need to address its impact on public confidence.

30. The Panel was therefore of the view that the Registrant’s insight was limited.

31.  With regard to remediation, the Panel noted that the Registrant has completed his sentence without concerns, and has noted the positive (undated) letter from the Probation Service which states that:
“Mr Uddin is currently in full time employment and as a result of his positive response to his licence has been given permission to travel abroad on a family holiday”.

32. However, considering that dishonesty is difficult (although not necessarily impossible) to remediate, and given the limited insight, including the lack of openness demonstrated by the Registrant in the years 2015 - 2019, as set out above, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant’s remediation is limited.

33. 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 decided that from the material before it there was no evidence that the Registrant had in the past acted so as to put patients at unwarranted risk of harm nor that he is liable to do so in the future.

34. Considering the other questions of Dame Janet Smith, the Panel was of the view that the Registrant had in the past, by way of the conduct which led to the conviction, brought the profession into disrepute, breached a fundamental tenet of the profession as set out above, and had acted dishonestly.

35. In light of the limited insight and remediation demonstrated by the Registrant, and partly evidenced by the lack of openness and transparency in the years 2015-2019 as set out above, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is liable to bring the profession into disrepute, breach fundamental tenets and act dishonestly in the future.

36. The role of a Paramedic incorporates a responsibility in maintaining high professional and personal standards which are necessary for public confidence in the professional exercising that role. A Paramedic deals with vulnerable patients when they are injured or in crisis, often in their own homes. While there is no issue of clinical concerns or risk to patients arising out of the Registrant’s clinical practice, the conviction for serious matters of dishonesty undermines confidence in the Registrant as a professional. The conviction also undermines confidence in the wider profession.

37. 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.

38. The Panel therefore found the Registrant’s current fitness to practise to be impaired on the basis of both the personal and public components.

Decision on Sanction
39. The Registrant gave evidence at the sanction stage. He told the Panel that he viewed the Panel’s decision on impairment respectfully. He informed the Panel that his post-sentence supervision will end on 29 July 2020, and his last telephone meeting with the Probation Service is due to take place on 13 July 2020.

40. The Registrant told the Panel that he continued to work in the construction industry, finding his own work through different employment agencies. He told the Panel that he had had a chance to reflect further since the last adjourned hearing, and now understood why it was important to declare his conviction to any prospective employer, and now does this as a matter of course, whether or not he was asked directly about previous convictions. He told the Panel that to this end, he had prepared a pro-forma document which he submitted to all prospective employers setting out the details of his conviction, and indicated his commitment to so doing, despite his recognition that this may create difficulty in the future in being able to secure employment. He told the Panel doing so had already led to the rejection of his recent application for a role in the education sector.

41. The Registrant told the Panel that he has been subject to an Interim Suspension Order but he has nevertheless tried to keep up to date with developments in the Paramedic profession by way of reading, research, and undertaking some online training in relation to Covid-19. He told the Panel that he recognised the effect of his conviction on public confidence.

42. The Registrant also told the Panel that he wished to return to being a Paramedic, but intended to begin his return to his profession by seeking work in a clinical advice role over the telephone, such as in the NHS 111 service, before returning to a patient-facing role, which is what he enjoys.

43. The Panel heard the submissions of Ms Hastie, on behalf of the HCPC, who referred to the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy (SP), and took the position that the kind of sanction to be imposed is a matter for the Panel.

44. The Registrant submitted that a Suspension Order would be appropriate to meet the public interest in this case and would give the public and the HCPC reassurance regarding his insight and remediation. The Registrant submitted that a Striking Off Order would not be appropriate, as there is no suggestion that the behaviour in question is persistent. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s bundle of documents which included a reflective statement, documents relating to his criminal sentence, and various testimonials.

45. The Panel considered the SP and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that the aim of any sanction is not to be punitive. Rather, the aim is to uphold the public interest. Sanction is a matter for the independent judgement of the Panel. The Panel took into account the principle of proportionality in coming to its decision on sanction.

46. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
i. the lack of any previous regulatory findings against the Registrant;
ii. the Registrant’s plea of guilty at the Crown Court;
iii. the Registrant’s greater insight shown since the adjourned hearing in March 2020.

47. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors:
i. there was a pattern of dishonesty;
ii. the dishonesty occurred over a period of some six months;
iii. the dishonesty was premeditated.

48. The Panel took into account that the Registrant has been apologetic and remorseful. The Panel also took into account the greater degree of insight which he has shown at the Sanction stage. The Panel also took the view that there was, by virtue of such insight, a greater degree of remediation demonstrated. In view of such developments, the Panel considered that the risk of repetition of such behaviour is low. 

49. However, due to the nature of the dishonesty, the Panel was of the view that it was serious, although it was not at the highest level. It was neither minor nor isolated, and occurred over a period of some six months.

50. The Panel was of the view that mediation is not appropriate in light of the fact that the Registrant’s conduct led to a serious conviction.

51. The Panel discounted taking no further action because the misconduct was too serious for such an outcome, and the lack of a sanction would not satisfy the public interest in this case.

52. With regard to a Caution Order, the SP states at paragraph 101:

“A caution order is likely to be an appropriate sanction for cases in which:
•the issue is isolated, limited, or relatively minor in nature;
•there is a low risk of repetition;
•the registrant has shown good insight; and
•the registrant has undertaken appropriate remediation.”

53. The Panel was of the view that a Caution Order is not appropriate or proportionate because the behaviour which led to the conviction was neither isolated, limited or relatively minor, and while there is a low risk of repetition, the conviction is too serious for the public interest to be satisfied by such a sanction.

54. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order but was satisfied that this would not be appropriate because there are no concerns about the Registrant’s clinical practice to which conditions could be attached. Further, in any event, no conditions could be formulated which could address public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

55. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order and considered paragraph 121 of the SP:

“A suspension order is likely to be appropriate where there are serious concerns which cannot be reasonably addressed by a conditions of practice order, but which do not require the registrant to be struck off the Register. These types of cases will typically exhibit the following factors:
• the concerns represent a serious breach of the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics;
• the registrant has insight;
• the issues are unlikely to be repeated; and
• there is evidence to suggest the registrant is likely to be able to resolve or remedy their failings. “

56. The Registrant’s conviction represents a serious breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession, honesty and integrity (Standard 9). However, the Registrant has, at the sanction stage, shown a good level of insight. He has engaged with the regulatory process. The Panel has already determined there is a low risk of repetition, and that there are no public protection concerns which form a basis for the finding of impairment or the sanction which will be imposed.

57. In light of these factors, the Panel was satisfied that a Suspension Order is appropriate and proportionate. The Panel concluded that a duration of six months is appropriate and proportionate, because it reflects on the one hand, the Registrant’s increased insight and, by virtue of such insight, remediation, which has developed since March 2020. In light of the factors which the Panel has taken into account, as set out above, such duration also sufficiently addresses the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process, uphold proper standards, and send a clear message that such conduct is unacceptable. The Panel was satisfied that such an outcome is a proportionate result when weighing these various factors in the balance.

58. The Panel considered paragraphs 130 and 131 of the SP
“A striking off order is a sanction of last resort for serious, persistent, deliberate or reckless acts involving (this list is not exhaustive):
• dishonesty …
A striking off order is likely to be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the concerns are such that any lesser sanction would be insufficient to protect the public, public confidence in the profession, and public confidence in the regulatory process. In particular where the registrant:
• lacks insight;
• continues to repeat the misconduct or, where a registrant has been suspended for two years continuously, fails to address a lack of competence; or
• is unwilling to resolve matters.”

59. In the Panel’s view, in light of the factors referred to above, including the insight and remediation demonstrated, a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate.

60. In coming to its decision, the Panel took into account the principle of proportionality, and the impact that such a sanction may have on the Registrant’s right to practise his profession, as well as the reputational and the financial impacts. However, the Panel decided that the need to uphold the public interest meant that a Suspension Order for six months is proportionate.

61. The Panel was of the view that a future Panel may be assisted by the following:
i. the Registrant’s attendance at the review of the Suspension Order, whether in person or remotely;
ii. a recent reflective statement written by the Registrant demonstrating his understanding of the impact of the conviction on the wider public interest and how this is reflected in his current behaviour.

62. The Panel therefore decided to impose a Suspension Order for a period of six months.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Shamim Uddin for a period of 6 months from the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

Right of Appeal
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.

Under Article 29(10) of the Health Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.  The Panel’s order will not take effect until the appeal period has expired or, if you appeal, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.

European Alert Mechanism
In accordance with Regulation 67 of the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015, the HCPC will inform the competent authorities in all other EEA States that your right to practise has been prohibited.

You may appeal to the County Court against the HCPC’s decision to do so.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. This right of appeal is separate from your right to appeal against the decision and order of the Panel.

Application for an interim order to cover the appeal period
1. The Panel heard an application from Ms Hastie for an 18 month Interim Suspension Order to cover the appeal period. She submitted that such an order is in the public interest.

2. The Registrant did not object.

3. The Panel considered the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Interim Orders” as well as paragraphs 133-5 of the Sanctions Policy. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4. The Panel took into account its previous findings and, adopting its reasons, the Panel came to the conclusion that an interim order is in the wider public interest in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and to uphold proper standards. The high threshold for such an interim order is met on the basis of the nature of the conviction, namely seven counts of using false instruments over a period of time, which resulted in a guilty plea at the crown court, and an eight months custodial sentence. The Panel also took into account the aggravating features referred to in its decision on sanction, as well as the fact that the Registrant remains on post-sentence supervision until 29 July 2020. In the circumstances, such a conviction has the capacity to seriously undermine public confidence in the Registrant and the Paramedic profession. Public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be seriously harmed if the Registrant were not made subject to an interim order during the appeal period.

5. The Panel was mindful of its decision at the sanction stage that Conditions were not appropriate. The Panel considered that not to impose an Interim Suspension Order would be inconsistent with its finding that a substantive sanction of Suspension is required.

6. The Panel recognised that the Panel must take into consideration the impact of such an interim order on the Registrant as part of the principle of proportionality, and must balance the impact on the Registrant with the need to uphold the public interest. The Panel considered those matters; in the circumstances of the case, the Panel was satisfied that the need to uphold the public interest outweighed the Registrant’s interests in this regard.

7. The Panel decided to impose an Interim Suspension Order for a period of 18 months, a duration which is appropriate and proportionate in light of the Panel’s previous decisions, in order to allow any appeal which the Registrant brings, to be concluded.

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

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

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 Mr Shamim Uddin

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
06/07/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended