Mr Wilson Huelgas

Profession: Radiographer

Registration Number: RA67965

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 26/04/2021 End: 17:00 26/04/2021

Location: Virtual hearing - Video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Allegations as found proven at the Final Hearing 
 
Whilst registered as a Radiographer, on 10 July 2013 you attended an interview with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust:
 
1. Were unable to demonstrate adequate knowledge of radiography procedures when answering questions in relation to:
 
a) Ionising radiation
 
b) MRI contra-indications
 
c) IV contrasts
 
d) Creatinine levels
 
e) Data protection procedures
 
f) Quality Assurance procedures
 
2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute a lack of competence.
 
3. By reason of your lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Service

1. The Registrant was sent notice of this hearing by email dated 26 March 2021. The email was sent to his registered email address and informed the Registrant of the date and time of this review hearing. It also informed the Registrant that this hearing would be a virtual hearing.

2. By email dated 26 March 2021 timed at 15:50:32 the HCPC received confirmation that the notice of hearing email had been delivered. The Registrant did not acknowledge receipt of the email and has not made contact with the HCPC.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It is satisfied that the HCPC has sent notice of this hearing to the Registrant at his registered email address. The Panel has therefore determined that good service has been effected.

Proceeding in Absence

4. On behalf of the HCPC Ms Bwoma applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and had therefore waived his right to be present at this mandatory review hearing.

5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who drew the Panel’s attention to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant.”

6. The Panel noted that it had found that the HCPC had taken reasonable steps to inform the Registrant of the date and time of this virtual mandatory review hearing. The Registrant has not engaged with the regulatory process since attending a test of competence before the substantive hearing in November 2017. The Panel consider that an adjournment was unlikely to secure his attendance on a future date. The Panel is satisfied that it is able to deal fairly with the issues on this review in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel considers that the public interest in proceeding with this mandatory review hearing outweighs the Registrant’s interest in being present or represented at a hearing which is considering his registration. Accordingly, the Panel has decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Background:

7. The Registrant obtained a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology in 1994 and worked as a Band 5 Diagnostic Radiographer for the Chest Diseases Hospital in Kuwait from March 1996 until March 2001.

8. In June 2013, he applied for a role as a Band 6 Radiographer in the X-Ray department at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch. He attended an interview for the position on 10 July 2013. The interviewers found that the Registrant was unable to answer questions on a number of basic and essential topics which they would expect a qualified Radiographer to be able to answer. For questions relating to key skills and knowledge, they gave the Registrant scores between ‘0’ and ‘2’ out of a possible ‘10’ marks.

The Substantive Hearing on 06 - 07 November 2017

9. The panel at the substantive hearing (the substantive panel) accepted that the Registrant’s answers were unsatisfactory and that this had caused the interviewers to be concerned about the Registrant’s competence as a Radiographer. The areas of questions, as identified at (a) to (f) in the allegation, dealt with basic and essential areas of radiography practice, which all radiographers should be able to answer. The Registrant was unable to give adequate answers, even when prompted. The Registrant seemed confident and unaware that his answers were inadequate. It was the view of one of the interviewers, DT that the Registrant presented a potential danger to service users because of his lack of knowledge and lack of awareness.

10. DT had conducted many interviews and had never had concerns following an interview before, nor had she ever referred anyone to the HCPC. She referred the Registrant to the HCPC on 15 July 2013.

11. The substantive panel found that, on his application form for the position at the Alexandra Hospital, the Registrant had stated that he had worked as a Band 5 Diagnostic Radiographer at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham between December 2012 and December 2013. KJ, Superintendent Radiographer at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, confirmed that in fact he was employed as a Healthcare Assistant on the wards at that hospital. He had only undertaken two days as a bank Band 5 Radiographer in November 2012 and was found to lack experience and needed supervision. He had not been asked to work any further bank shifts.

First Review Hearing on 01 November 2018

12. The Registrant did not attend the first review hearing, nor did he make any written representations to it. The first review panel adopted the findings of the substantive panel. It referred to the evidence set out above and to the evidence of Dr VG. She was employed at The Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England. She was instructed by the HCPC to conduct a Test of Competence in respect of the Registrant. Dr VG’s conclusion was that the Registrant appeared to possess a basic level of radiography knowledge. She noted his language skills were “fairly rudimentary”. She stated in her report, “it was noted that his understanding of the English language was not good and some sentences had to be repeated to him in order for him to understand. Likewise, it was sometimes difficult to understand his responses, and clarification had to be sought from him on several occasions to ensure appropriate understanding”.

13. The first review panel noted that Dr VG described the Registrant’s level of diagnostic radiography as rated at just below the level of a graduating radiography student. She concluded that the assessment findings and results indicated that the Registrant would benefit from a period of supervised practice in order to ensure that his knowledge and skills were of the required standard to practise as a Radiographer in the UK.

14. Having considered all the material before it, the first review panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired. It expressed its reasons, finding that the Registrant’s lack of knowledge would impact on his ability to perform his role safely and that there was a potential risk of harm to the public arising from his lack of competence.

15. Having reviewed all the sanctions available to it, the first review panel decided to make a Suspension Order for a further period of 12 months. It expressed its concern that the Registrant had not practised since 2013 and that he had displayed a lack of awareness of his deficiencies. The review panel concluded that those deficiencies, as identified by the previous panel, had not been addressed in any way by the Registrant. It found that a period of 12 months would give the Registrant the time and opportunity to engage in the process and to satisfy a future panel that he had remediated his deficiencies. The first review panel gave guidance as to what might assist a subsequent review panel.

Second Review hearing on 12 November 2019

16. The Registrant did not attend or submit any evidence to show that he had attended training or professional development courses to remedy his lack of competence. The second review panel found that the Registrant had not engaged with any of the suggestions made by the first review panel.

17. The second review panel concluded that the Registrant remained impaired and that a restriction on his ability to practise was still necessary in order to protect service users and also to sustain public confidence in the profession of Radiographer and in the HCPC as its Regulator.

18. The second review panel noted that any future panel would have the option to strike the Registrant off the register. The second review panel made it clear that a future panel would be assisted by the physical presence of the Registrant, that he would need to provide evidence of insight into his deficiencies and evidence of any training and Continuing Professional Development. It advised the Registrant that a future panel would be assisted by references and testimonials from any employers and evidence of any work, whether paid or unpaid.

Third Review Hearing ‘on the papers’ on 01 May 2020

19. The panel read written submissions prepared on behalf of the HCPC. The HCPC invited the panel to find that the Registrant remained impaired and that a further suspension order was the proportionate sanction. The HCPC noted that the Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC. He had not provided any information to show that he had undertaken any training, nor had he provided testimonials from past or present employers. The HCPC indicated that had the hearing been an oral hearing, the HCPC would have requested a Striking Off order. However, as the Registrant had been denied an oral hearing, it was the HCPC’s position that a further suspension order was appropriate.

20. Having reviewed all of the material the panel determined that the Registrant remained impaired. The panel concluded that a restriction on the Registrant’s ability to practise was still necessary in order to protect service users and also to maintain public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as its Regulator. It concluded that a Suspension Order for a further 12 months was the proportionate sanction.

The Review Hearing today (26 April 2021):

21. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Bwoma submitted that the Registrant’s fitness practise remains impaired by reason of a lack of competence. She contended that having regard to the Registrant’s persistent lack of engagement with his regulator, the proportionate sanction in this case is now a Striking Off Order.

Decision:

22. Before reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Legal Assessor directed the Panel’s attention to the HCPC Sanctions Policy.

23. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired by reason of his lack of competence. The Panel noted that the Registrant has still not engaged with the HCPC. He has not provided any information about his current circumstances. He has not provided any evidence of his reflection, learning and insight in relation to the deficiencies identified by the substantive panel. He has not provided any evidence in respect of any training or continuing professional development he had undertaken to address the gaps in his knowledge. The HCPC repeated the invitation to provide this information which was extended by previous reviewing panels, in an email to the Registrant dated 8 April 2021. Despite this invitation to provide information, the Registrant has provided no information to this Panel.

24. The Panel has no evidence before it that would enable it to conclude that the Registrant has begun to take steps to remedy his lack of competence. The only information available to the Panel indicates that the Registrant has not practised as a Radiographer since 2013. His already deficient professional knowledge and skills are likely to have deteriorated further in the intervening 8 years. The substantive panel found that the Registrant’s lack of knowledge and lack of awareness posed a risk to service users. This Panel considers that the risk remains. In addition, in the absence of any engagement with the HCPC, there is a significant risk of repetition.

25. The Panel has therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired because of his lack of competence.

26. The Panel next considered whether it was necessary to impose a sanction in the light of its finding on impairment. Having regard to the risk to service users and to the need to maintain confidence in the HCPC and the regulatory process, the Panel has determined that a sanction remains necessary.

27. The Panel considered the sanctions available in ascending order of severity addressing the least restrictive sanctions first.

28. The Panel has concluded that because of the serious gaps in the Registrant’s basic knowledge identified by the substantive panel, a Caution Order is not appropriate. The Panel determined that given the nature of the deficiencies in the Registrant’s basic knowledge and skills and the Registrant’s lack of insight and lack of engagement with the HCPC, a Conditions of Practice Order was neither workable or appropriate.

29. The Panel next considered a further Suspension Order. It noted that the Registrant had been the subject of a Suspension Order since November 2017. Previous panels imposing such an order had done so to enable the Registrant to take steps to improve his knowledge and skills and to demonstrate that improvement to his regulator. The Registrant has not taken the opportunities offered to him. He has not provided any evidence that he has addressed his lack of competence. This Panel considers that in these circumstances a further Suspension Order will serve no useful purpose.

30. Regrettably, despite many opportunities to do so, the Registrant has decided not to engage with the HCPC to remedy his lack of competence. He has demonstrated a persistent lack of insight and an unwillingness to remedy the deficiencies in his knowledge and skills. The Registrant presents a risk to service users if he were able to return to practice. Public confidence in the HCPC and in the regulatory process would be undermined if the Registrant were further suspended given that he has wholly failed to engage with the HCPC since the substantive hearing. This Panel has therefore determined that the proportionate sanction in this case is a Striking Off Order with immediate effect.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Wilson Huelgas from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

The Order imposed today will apply with immediate 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 Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Wilson Huelgas

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
26/04/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
01/05/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
12/11/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
01/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
06/11/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended