Mr Leslie S Griffiths
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Whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner, and during the course of your employment at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital, you:
1. In respect of a patient due to undergo surgery on or around 18 August 2016:
a. did not confirm the patient’s identity and/or check their identity against the consent form; and/or
b. completed and signed the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist indicating that you had confirmed the patient’s identity and/or check their signature on the consent form which was not the case.
2. In respect of a patient due to undergo surgery on or around 18 October 2016, you:
a. indicated on the pre-operative checklist that the patient was wearing TED stockings, which was not the case; and/or
b. you did not fully complete the pre-operative checklist.
3. In or around October 2016, you left keys to a controlled drug cupboard unattended in a drawer.
4. On or before 18 October 2016, you left keys to a medicine cupboard in a cupboard door.
5. The matters set out in paragraph 1 – 4 constitute misconduct.
6. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
Remote hearing conducted via video-link
1. In light of the Government’s advice on containing the current Covid-19 pandemic, the HCPC has suspended all public hearings to protect the health and safety of its registrants and stakeholders. This hearing was conducted via video-link.
Notice of Hearing
2. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the Registrant was sent a Notice of Hearing by email on 21 April 2020. The Panel was satisfied that the date of the Notice of Hearing falls within the statutory time limit of 28 days under Rule 6(2) of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003, (the Rules), and also provides the day, time and venue (specifically that the hearing would be conducted via video conference), as required by Rule 6(1) of the Rules. The Panel noted that Rule 3(2) ordinarily requires that the Notice of Hearing should be sent by post, but the Panel was satisfied that email communication was an appropriate and necessary method of communication due to the current Covid-19 situation. The Panel also noted that the Registrant has replied to the email containing the Notice of Hearing on 21 April 2020 and had therefore clearly received it.
3. For the above reasons, the Panel has determined that there is good service of the Notice of Hearing.
Proceeding in Absence
4. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
5. While the Panel is aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant is one to be taken with great care and caution, the Panel has decided to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant in accordance with Rule 11 of the Rules. In reaching its decision the Panel had regard to the following matters:
• Service of the appropriate notice of this hearing has been properly effected.
• The Registrant has not applied for an adjournment or sought to object to this hearing proceeding in his absence. In his email to the HCPC dated 21 April 2020 he stated, “Thank you for your Email. The contents are noted. Please be advised, I will not be attending or participating in the hearing.”
• The Registrant is fully aware of this hearing, has made an informed decision not to participate and, in the Panel’s view, has voluntarily waived his right to attend the hearing.
• The Registrant has engaged with the HCPC in relation to this matter and this is a hearing of the Registrant’s own application for Voluntary Removal from the Register.
• The HCPC consents to the Registrant’s Voluntary Removal from the Register.
• There would be limited risk of prejudice or unfairness to the Registrant if the hearing proceeds today.
• There is a public interest with the matter proceeding expeditiously.
6. The Registrant is a registered Operating Department Practitioner (ODP). At the relevant time, he was employed as an ODP for theatres at BMI The Winterbourne Hospital.
7. On 28 June 2017 the HCPC received a referral from the BMI Princess Margaret Hospital notifying the HCPC that the Registrant had been dismissed from his employment at BMI the Winterbourne Hospital, following a full investigation and the hearing of allegations concerning gross misconduct. The referral related to concerns about the Registrant’s performance on two shifts, particularly failures in patient care, poor record keeping, inadequate risk assessments and the possibility of poor clinical reasoning.
8. On 7 December 2018 a panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer against the Registrant. Following that decision and further investigation by the HCPC, the HCPC applied to amend the allegations. The Registrant did not oppose the application and, on 11 July 2019, the Allegation against the Registrant (as set out above) was approved by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at a preliminary hearing.
9. On 16 January 2020 the Registrant emailed the HCPC as follows:
“Thank you for your Email and attachment which is duly noted. This sorry and farcical issue has been on going for nearly three years. As you are aware my case against the perpetrator of this issue is on hold so as not to prejudice my case. My case is unable to continue until this issue is concluded. Finally I inform you again I am no longer resident in uk and have retired and no longer practicing. So to that end the best thing you can do is have me struck off the register which makes my case the more stronger.”
10. The Health Professions Order 2001 precludes a Registrant from removing themselves from the Register, or for their registration to lapse (by way of non-payment, for example) whilst they are the subject of a Fitness to Practise investigation. It is, however, possible for a Registrant to apply to a Panel of the Conduct and Competence or Health Committees for Voluntary Removal, on agreement with the HCPC. This can only be done once the Investigating Committee has concluded there is a case to answer.
11. On receipt of the Registrant’s email of 16 January 2020, the HCPC reviewed the case and considered that the circumstances may be suitable for disposal by way of a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA). The Registrant was sent an email on 17 January 2020 that explained the process by which a voluntary removal application can be made. It explained that the Registrant would have to admit the Allegation against him, admit that his fitness to practise is currently impaired and confirm in writing that he does not intend to practise as an ODP in the future. The Registrant was advised that the decision as to whether it is appropriate to dispose of the case via consent arrangements will ultimately be one for an independent panel to decide. He was provided with further information as to the process and effect of voluntary removal from the register and sent the HCPTS Practice Note ‘Disposal of Cases by Consent’ which explains in detail this means of disposal.
12. The Registrant responded on 17 January 2020 by email as follows:
“Thank you for your correspondence which is duly noted. I will be requesting to self remove myself from the register. As I have retired and am resident in Poland. I have no intention of practicing. This is the most sensible course of action.”
13. The Registrant sent a further email to the HCPC on 18 January 2020:
“Please accept this Email as official notification to request voluntary removal from the professional register for operating department practitioners. I admit to the allegations set out before me and that by doing so I admit my fitness to practice is impaired. I have now retired and am resident in Poland. Poland has no such professionals as operating department practitioners as such I will not practice. I would like to thank the HCPC for all your support an guidance over the years.”
14. The HCPC considered that this case was suitable for disposal by way of voluntary removal from the Register and, on 20 February 2020, the Registrant was advised that this hearing would be listed in order to determine the application. The HCPC asked the Registrant to confirm his position in respect of disposing of his case by means of voluntary removal.
15. The Registrant confirmed by email on 20 February 2020 that he wished to progress the voluntary removal application:
“Please accept this Email as my request for you to apply for voluntary removal from the register.”
16. On 4 March 2020 the Registrant informed the HCPC that he would not be attending any hearings on the matter; he confirmed this position in his email of 21 April 2020.
17. The Registrant was sent the VRA to sign. A signed copy of that document has now been provided. Having signed it, the Registrant thereby again admits the Allegation, accepts that his fitness to practise is impaired, and confirms that he has no intention of returning to practise as an ODP.
18. The HCPC submits that, in all the circumstances, voluntary removal from the Register would be an appropriate means of resolving the current matter. Given that voluntary removal is equivalent in effect to a strike-off, the HCPC submits that the necessary public protection would be ensured by this course of action.
19. The HCPC also submits that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by way of voluntary removal. It is submitted that this case, involving clinical matters, does not raise concerns with regard to the wider public interest to such an extent that the matter must be disposed of at a final hearing. The HCPC reiterates that the Registrant has admitted the substance of the allegations and that voluntary removal from the Register will have the same effect as a strike-off. It is submitted that these factors are sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour.
20. It is therefore submitted that the VRA is an appropriate and expeditious way of dealing with this matter and the HCPC respectfully invites the Panel to approve the proposed agreement.
21. The Panel considered the all of the material before it including the main evidence bundle, the HCPC Skeleton Argument of 17 June 2020 in support of the VRA, the email exchange between the Registrant and the HCPC and the signed copy of the VRA. The Panel also had regard to Ms Simpson’s oral submissions to the Panel today in which she adopted the content of her Skeleton Argument. She confirmed the HCPC’s position that granting the application would not compromise the protection of the public or have any detrimental effect on the wider public interest. She submitted that the nature of these allegations, involving clinical competency issues, did not need to be “thrashed out” at a final hearing in light of the Registrant’s admissions and that there was no suggestion of dishonesty or a lack of integrity on the Registrant’s part. Ms Simpson further submitted that dealing with this matter by way of a VRA is in the Registrant’s own interests.
22. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had careful regard to the content of the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent. The Panel had particular regard to the following part of the Practice Note:
“In cases where the HCPC is satisfied that it would be adequately protecting the public if the registrant was permitted to resign from the Register, it may enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement allowing the registrant to do so, but on similar terms to those which would apply if the registrant had been struck off.”
23. The Panel noted the content of the Registrant’s correspondence with the HCPC in which he repeatedly stated that he no longer wanted to practise as an ODP and wanted to be removed from the Register. The Panel was therefore satisfied that this was a considered and informed decision on his part.
24. The Panel noted from the documents that a panel of the Investigating Committee had concluded that there was a case to answer and that the Registrant has admitted the Allegation as part of the VRA. The Registrant has also signed a Declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other allegation.
25. The Panel was mindful of its overarching objective of protection of the public and the public interest. The Panel therefore considered whether there were any factors that would make it undesirable to allow the allegation to be concluded on the consensual basis set out in the VRA. The Panel noted that, on the information before it, the Registrant has worked as an ODP for 37 years with an apparently unblemished career, with no previous regulatory concerns or findings made against him. The incidents that the Registrant has admitted to took place over a very short period of time, two shifts in August and October 2016. The information provided to the Panel is that the Registrant has now retired from professional practice. The Panel was satisfied that the public would be adequately protected if this Allegation were withdrawn and the Registrant permitted to have his name removed from the Register and leave the profession in accordance with the terms of the VRA. The Panel gave careful consideration to the public interest. It was also satisfied that there are no overriding public interest factors that would require this matter to go to a full substantive hearing.
26. The Panel is aware that if the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time in the future, his application would be treated as if he had been struck off as a result of the Allegation.
27. The Panel is satisfied that this means of disposal of this case is appropriate and proportionate and is jointly in the interests of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant.
28. Accordingly, the Panel approves the VRA and the withdrawal of the allegation and discontinuance of those proceedings.
29. The Chair of the Panel has, on behalf of the Panel, signed and dated the attached Consent Order which will take immediate effect. She has also signed the Notice of Discontinuance that is required as a consequence of the Consent to the VRA. Copies of both have been dated today.
The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Leslie S Griffiths from the Register with immediate effect.
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.
History of Hearings for Mr Leslie S Griffiths
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|19/06/2020||Conduct and Competence Committee||Voluntary Removal Agreement||Voluntary Removal agreed|