Mr Andrew M Walukiewicz

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS49806

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 25/09/2020 End: 17:00 25/09/2020

Location: This hearing was held virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Impaired - no further action

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Allegation

As a registered Biomedical Scientist (BS49806) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of conviction and/or misconduct, in that you:

1. On 21 June 2019, at Leeds Magistrates' Court, were convicted of driving a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your breath, namely 77 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, 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 misconduct and/or conviction, your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Private

1. At the outset of the hearing there was a joint application that certain parts of the hearing should be conducted in private. The grounds of the application were that there would be reference to matters relating to the Registrant’s private life. The Panel were satisfied that such parts of the hearing should be held in private in order to protect the Registrant’s private life. The application is therefore granted.

Background

2. The Registrant is employed as a Specialist Biomedical Scientist with Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

3. On 21 June 2019 the Registrant self-referred to the HCPC that on that day, 21 June 2019, at Leeds Magistrates Court he had been convicted, on his own admission of driving with excess alcohol and was disqualified from driving for 18 months, such disqualification to be reduced by 18 weeks if he completed a drink driving awareness course (DDA). The Registrant was also fined £423 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £42.

4. At the time of the driving incident the Registrant was involved in an incident with another road user which resulted in an altercation between them. The other road user informed the police and confiscated the Registrant’s car keys. However, no criminal charges resulted in regards to this matter.

Admissions

5. At the outset of the hearing the Registrant said that he admitted the conviction and misconduct.

Decision on Facts and Grounds

6. In reaching its decision the Panel considered the evidence before it, which amounted to the Certificate of Conviction, together with the Registrant’s admissions.

7. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

8. The Panel were satisfied that this was a true Certificate of Conviction and it therefore found the Conviction proved. It found that the Registrant’s conduct which led to the Conviction amounted to misconduct. It found also that the Conviction and misconduct established the grounds.

Decision on Impairment 

9. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information before it. This included the evidence of the Registrant and also his reflective piece, together with the submissions of Mr Foxsmith and those of Ms McCullogh. It had regard to the HCPC Practice Notes on Conviction and Impairment.

10. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

11. It had regard to the fact that he had pleaded guilty to the offence at the outset: that he had self-referred to the HCPC; that he had informed his employer of the situation and that after the Conviction he undertook a DDA course at the earliest opportunity.

12. The Panel found the Registrant’s evidence to be open and honest. He said that he had learned from the DDA course and was aware of the effect that alcohol could have on driving and recognised the potential effect on road users.

13. The Registrant accepted that what he had done was wrong, putting as it did other road users at risk. He said also and the Panel accepted, that he had learned meaningful lessons from the Conviction and from the DDA course. He further said that the personal matters which had caused him to act as he did had now been resolved and that he would not react in that way again.

14. In the light of the Registrant’s evidence and his reflective piece, the Panel has concluded that he has a high degree of insight, that he has recognised his failings and their causes. Further, that his understanding of the DDA course indicates that there is a low risk of repetition of the facts leading to the Conviction. Furthermore, the offence occurred outside working hours and there was no risk to Service Users. 

15. The Panel therefore concluded that in regard to the personal element the Registrant is not currently impaired.

16. In regard to the public element, the Panel had in mind that a criminal offence of this nature could be considered a breach of  Standard 9.1 of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics - “You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession”.

17. Such a breach could therefore undermine public confidence and bring the reputation of the profession into disrepute. Indeed, despite the Registrant’s high degree of insight and remorse, the Panel has concluded that an informed member of the public would be concerned, in the light of the Conviction and related misconduct, if there were not a finding of impairment.

Decision on Sanction

18. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information before it, together with the submissions from Mr Foxsmith and from Ms McCullogh. It had regard to the HCPC’s Sanction Policy (‘The Policy’). It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It has applied the principle of proportionality at all times.

19. Mr Foxsmith made no submissions in regard to specific sanctions. He referred to The Policy and emphasised that the purpose of sanction is not to punish a Registrant, but to protect the public.

20. The Panel found these to be the aggravating factors:

• The Registrant was more than twice the drink driving alcohol limit;
• Whilst driving beyond the limit he potentially put other road users at risk;
• He was involved in an altercation with another motorist;
• The car journey was unplanned and had it not been interrupted by the altercation, it would most likely have been lengthy.

21. The Panel found these to be the mitigating factors:

• This was an isolated incident and the Registrant was otherwise of good character;
• His early admission and plea of guilty;
• His self-referral to the HCPC;
• His early reporting of the incident to his employer;
• His full engagement with the regulatory process;
• His undergoing of the DDA and his learning from so doing;
• His high degree of insight into his conduct and the potential consequences;
• His clearly expressed remorse for his actions;
• The high regard in which he is held as a professional;

22. The Panel was impressed by the Registrant’s evidence and by the steps he has taken to address the matters which he said had triggered his actions. It is satisfied that there is a very low risk of repetition of his behaviour.

23. The Panel was mindful that the Registrant’s Conviction and the finding of impairment are in themselves a serious mark against the Registrant as a professional person

24. In the light of these matters, despite the serious nature of the offence, the Panel has concluded that it should take no further action. It is confident that this course would not be contrary to the public interest, which would be adequately addressed by the finding of impairment alone.

Order

The Panel decided to take no further action.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Andrew M Walukiewicz

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
25/09/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Impaired - no further action