Mr Bartosz Przezdziecki

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH87266

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 07/06/2021 End: 17:00 07/06/2021

Location: This hearing will be held virtually via video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

As a registered Physiotherapist (PH87266) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of conviction. In that:

1. On 9 May 2019, at Surrey Magistrates Court you were convicted of:


a. Assault by beating against Person A on 24 December 2018. Contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988;


b. Criminal Damage to property valued under £5000 belonging to Person A. Contrary to sections 1(1) and 4 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971;


c. Assault by beating against Person A on 16 December 2018. Contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988


2. By reason of your convictions your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

1. Mr Jolliffe applied for part of the hearing to be conducted in private when health matters were raised, in order to protect the private lives of both the Registrant and Person A. Ms Denholm did not object to the application.

2. In reaching its decision, the Panel has had in mind the HCPTS Practice Note on “Conducting Hearings in Private”. It has received and accepted legal advice. The Panel is aware that hearings should be conducted in public unless there were compelling reasons to conduct either the whole or part of the proceedings in private. One recognised reason is to protect the private life of a complainant or the Registrant when matters of health are raised. The Panel is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice for those parts of the proceedings which relate to the health of either Person A or the Registrant should be conducted in private in order to protect their private lives.

Background
3. The Registrant is a registered Physiotherapist. In 2018, the Registrant was in a relationship and living with Person A. From 2015, the Registrant has been employed by Nuffield Health as a Senior Physiotherapist until June 2017 when he became physiotherapy team leader employed by Central Surrey Heath Limited (CHS). He continued at Nuffield Health but in the role of a Bank Physiotherapist.

4. On 20 March 2019, the HCPC received an anonymous referral (incorrectly dated 19 March 2018) which stated that the Registrant had recently been arrested and charged with criminal assault. The HCPC investigated the matter.

5. The Registrant appeared at Surrey Magistrates’ Court (sitting at Guildford) on 24 January 2019 when he pleaded guilty to two criminal offences: an offence of assault on Person A on 24 December 2018, contrary to s.39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and an offence of criminal damage on the same date, contrary to the Criminal Damage Act 1971. He pleaded not guilty on the advice of his solicitor, to a further charge of assault on Person A on 16 December 2018 and was found guilty of this offence on 15 April 2019. The Registrant was sentenced for all three offences on 9 May 2019 to a Community Order consisting of (i) a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement for up to 20 days, and (ii) a Programme Requirement requiring him to participate in a “Build Better Relationships” programme for 30 days. This Community Order was to be completed by 8 May 2021. The Registrant was also ordered to pay compensation to Person A of £100 for the assault on her on 24 December 2018, £30 for the criminal damage to her property, a victim surcharge of £85 and costs of £620 (totalling £835), to be paid by 23 May 2019. The Court also made a Restraining Order for one year (to 8 May 2020) under the terms of which the Registrant was (a) prohibited from contacting directly or indirectly Person A by any means other than through a solicitor, and (b) from going to two specific addresses associated with Person A, or any other address at which the Registrant reasonably believed Person A to be residing or working at.

6. The first assault in time occurred on 16 December 2018 after the Registrant and Person A had returned home, having gone out for a drink together. An argument ensued which Person A recorded on her mobile phone. In the recording, the Registrant can be heard to have been angry and abusive towards Person A before he pushed her out of his way, using physical force. Person A can be heard to say “ouch” or words to that effect on the recording, but she did not sustain any physical injury on this occasion.

7. The second assault occurred on 24 December 2018. Person A spent a good part of Christmas Eve with a neighbour. The Registrant was drinking alone and at one point, it appears he had tripped over a present, injuring his head. The Registrant sent a text to Person A asking her to come home as he had hurt himself and was locked in their house. He was angry that Person A had chosen to spend Christmas Eve with the neighbour who he believed was a bad influence on Person A. Person A chose not to return home, instead she suggested that the Registrant use the spare key and join her at the neighbour’s house. The Registrant declined to do so and continued to drink alone. When Person A returned home, the Registrant accused her of smoking and drinking. He took hold of her cheeks with both hands, squeezing them between his fingers and thumbs. To get away from the Registrant Person A stumbled and in doing so, bruised her left hip. The Registrant then put his hands on her chest to hold her down. Person A struggled to get up, during which she sustained what she described as “whiplash” injuries.

8. The criminal damage offence also occurred on 24 December 2018, shortly after the assault offence, when the Registrant ripped up a notebook belonging to Person A and a scarf which had been a gift from the neighbour to Person A.

9. The Registrant was arrested by police on 8 January 2019 and interviewed about the assault on 24 December 2018. During the interview, the Registrant admitted assaulting Person A. He stated that he had wanted to spend Christmas Eve with Person A, but she had gone out. He had continued to drink alone and was very drunk by the time Person A returned home. The Registrant explained that he had wanted to see if Person A had been smoking and drinking and that they had both fallen over when he had grabbed her. He admitted holding her down for a short period. He said he was devastated by his arrest and how the matter had been handled. The police report states that the Registrant was remorseful and regretted what he had done.

10. The Registrant was interviewed again on 9 January 2019 and asked on this occasion about the assault on 16 December 2018 and the criminal damage on 24 December 2018. The Registrant admitted the criminal damage to Person A’s notebook and scarf. He said he had been annoyed with Person A at the time but added that this was no excuse for what he had done. The recording of the incident on 16 December 2018 was played to the Registrant. He admitted pushing past Person A on that date and said that he was ashamed of himself.

11. On 16 September 2020, a panel of the Investigating Committee found there was a case to answer in relation to the Allegation against the Registrant and referred the matter to this Committee.

Decision on Facts
Particulars 1a), 1b) and 1c) were found proved.
12. The Panel has seen a Memorandum of Conviction from Surrey Magistrates’ Court for 9 May 2019. This shows that the Registrant appeared at Court on that day and was sentenced for the three offences of which he was convicted, as set out in Particulars 1a), 1b) and 1c) of the Allegation. The Panel has been advised that it can rely on the Memorandum of Conviction as proof that the Registrant was convicted of the three offences set out in the Allegation. In his evidence to the Panel, the Registrant admitted that he had pleaded guilty to the offences set out in Particular 1a) and 1b) and was found guilty of the offence set out in Particular 1c). Accordingly, the Panel is satisfied, based on the Memorandum of Conviction and the Registrant’s admissions, that the Registrant was convicted of the three offences set out in Particulars 1a), 1b) and 1c) and finds each of these sub-paragraphs of Particular 1 proved.

Decision on Grounds:
13. The Panel is satisfied, based on the Memorandum of Conviction, that the statutory ground of conviction is proved.

Decision on Impairment:
14. In reaching its decision on impairment, the Panel has had regard to the HCPTS Practice Notes “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” and “Conviction and Caution Allegations”. The Panel has taken account of the submissions of Ms Denholm for the HCPC and Mr Jolliffe for the Registrant. It had received and accepted legal advice. The Panel has borne in mind that the purpose of this hearing is not to punish the Registrant for past misdoings but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not fit to practise.

Submissions:
15. Ms Denholm submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on public component grounds. She submitted that the convictions for two offences of assault and an offence of criminal damage were a mark on the Registrant both professionally and personally, that the Registrant had brought the Physiotherapy profession into disrepute and that a patient would be surprised if there were no finding of impairment in this case. Ms Denholm submitted that a finding that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired was required to maintain confidence in the profession and its regulator. Ms Denholm referred to the Registrant’s own admission in evidence to the Panel that his convictions put a massive shade on the profession such that his fitness to practise is impaired.

16. Mr Jolliffe submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired on the personal component ground. He referred Panel to the Registrant’s evidence and the testimonial evidence and submitted that this showed the Registrant’s insight and the significant steps that he has taken to address the conduct that led to his convictions and the genuine remorse he feels. Mr Jolliffe submitted that these factors showed it was very unlikely that the Registrant would repeat the conduct that led to his convictions. Mr Jolliffe submitted that this was a case in which the Panel could conclude that the Registrant’s fitness to practice is not impaired on the personal component.

17. Mr Jolliffe submitted that in relation to the public component, there were no public protection concerns given the Registrant’s insight as shown in his reflective statement and his evidence and the low risk of repetition. Mr Jolliffe submitted that in respect of the wider public interest concerns the Registrant fully understands that his conduct in relation to Person A fell short of what is expected of a Physiotherapist. He submitted that the Registrant had insight into the impact his conduct on Person A, his patients and colleagues, his profession and the wider public and referred the Panel to the testimonial evidence which included two members of the public, neither of whom had concerns about the Registrant’s professionalism.

Decision
Personal component
18. The Panel has considered the personal component. It is satisfied that the convictions in this case are capable of being remedied. The Panel is also satisfied that the Registrant has taken significant steps to remedy the conduct which led to the convictions. In addition to the programmes that he was required to undergo under the Community Order as part of his sentence, the Registrant has also undertaken counselling, stopped drinking alcohol since his arrest in January 2019, and attended I-Access Service sessions from January 2019. He has also received help from his GP with a health issue. The Panel is satisfied from documentary evidence that the Registrant has fully complied with the Community Order which has now expired, and that he paid the compensation, victim surcharge and costs order by the date set.

19. The Panel has seen a reflective piece which was incorporated into the Registrant’s witness statement and has heard evidence from him of the strategies that he has learned from the programmes he has attended, and the support that he has in place from family and friends, should he find himself in a similar situation in the future.

20. The Panel takes the view that the Registrant has achieved a good level of insight into his offending behaviour and the impact it has had not only on Person A but also on his profession. The Registrant told the Panel that his offending had put a “massive shade” on his profession. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has recognised that by his actions he has damaged public confidence in his profession and brought it into disrepute. It is an indication of his insight that the Registrant made admissions to the two offences of 24 December 2019 at the earliest opportunity, both in his police interviews and at the Magistrates’ Court. The Panel also takes the view that the Registrant made what amounts to an admission to the offence of 16 December 2019 when he was interviewed by the police about this matter and that the “not guilty” plea was entered by him on legal advice. The Panel considers that it would not have been unreasonable for the Registrant to have followed that legal advice since he had never been charged with a criminal offence before. The Panel notes that the Registrant also made admissions at this hearing which he confirmed in his evidence to the Panel. The Registrant has recognised that his conduct fell below the standards expected of a Physiotherapist and it is a measure of his insight that in accepting responsibility for what happened, the Registrant has not sought to lay the blame elsewhere.

21. The Panel has taken account of the documentary evidence of witnesses who have provided very positive testimonials for the Registrant. Each witness was aware of the allegations. The Panel notes that these testimonials included some from female colleagues, one of whom had worked with the Registrant for over 14 months and was his line manager who commented that she had never had any concerns about her own safety, that of patients or other members of the team working along side the Registrant. The Panel heard testimonial evidence from one witness at the hearing, AW who is the Registrant’s Line Manager at CHS Surrey. AW told the Panel that she had no concerns regarding the Registrant’s fitness to practise.

22. The Panel is also satisfied that the Registrant has shown genuine remorse for his conduct, as he demonstrated in his police interviews, his admissions, his evidence and in his reflective statement. He has repeatedly referred to how ashamed he is of his behaviour.

23. The Panel has considered the likelihood that the Registrant will repeat his conduct, and it is satisfied that the risk of repetition is low.

24. The Panel is aware that the Registrant has been in unrestricted practice throughout the period since he was referred to the HCPC in 2019. It is now around two and a half years since that time and there have been no further concerns. The testimonial evidence confirms that no concerns have been raised about the Registrant’s clinical competence.

25. In these circumstances, the Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired on personal component grounds.

Public component
26. In relation to the public component, the Panel has considered very carefully whether given the nature, circumstances, and gravity of the convictions in this case, public confidence in the Physiotherapy profession and its regulatory body would be undermined if there was no finding of impairment in this case. The Panel has also considered whether it would be failing in its duty to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour in that profession if it did not find impairment in this case.

27. For the reasons set out under the personal component above, the Panel does not consider that this is a case where there are concerns regarding risks to patients.

28. However, the Panel does consider that a reasonable member of the public fully aware of all the facts would be concerned if there was no finding of impairment where those facts showed that the Registrant’s convictions all took place whilst in a domestic context when the Registrant was under the influence of alcohol and had lost his temper and when, on one occasion, a child was present. The Panel is satisfied that public confidence in the profession and in its regulator would be undermined if there was no finding of impairment in this case. The Panel is also satisfied that it would be failing in its duty to uphold and declare proper standards of conduct and behaviour in the Physiotherapy profession if it did not find that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.

29. Accordingly, the Panel therefore finds, on the public component, that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.

Decision on Sanction:
30. In considering the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case the Panel was referred to and has taken account of the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy. The Panel has taken note of the submissions of both parties and has also received and accepted legal advice. The Panel is aware that the purpose of any sanction it imposes is not to punish the Registrant, although it may have that effect, but it is to protect the public, to maintain confidence in the Physiotherapy profession and to uphold its standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel has also had in mind that any sanction it imposes must be appropriate and proportionate bearing in mind the convictions involved.

31. The Panel has considered mitigating and aggravating factors. The Panel first looked at the mitigating factors. The Panel notes the following:
- there are no previous professional findings against the Registrant;
- the Registrant made full admissions to two of the three offences at the earliest opportunity;
- the Registrant has shown insight into the effect of his convictions on Person A, his colleagues and his profession;
- the Registrant has taken appropriate steps to remedy his conduct;
- the convictions were isolated and limited;
- the Registrant has shown genuine remorse and has apologised for his convictions.

32. The Panel considers the following to be aggravating factors:
- the convictions took place in a domestic context involving the Registrant’s then partner and so there has been a breach of trust;
- a child was present on one occasion and witnessed his mother being assaulted;
- the Registrant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the convictions.

33. The Panel has considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. It has decided that to take no action in this case would not be appropriate or proportionate given the type of convictions concerned. The two offences of assault occurred within a short space of time in December 2018 and the criminal damage offence followed the more serious of the two assaults on Christmas Eve. Even though the assault offences fall at the lower end of the scale of assaults, the Panel has decided that they could not be described as relatively minor since they occurred in a domestic context and at a time when the Registrant was under the influence of alcohol and had lost his temper. The Panel is satisfied that to ensure public confidence in the profession is not undermined, it must consider a more severe sanction.

34. The Panel then considered whether a Caution Order was the appropriate sanction. It has had in mind the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy paragraph 101 which states:
“A caution order is likely to be an appropriate sanction in cases in which:
- the issue is isolated, limited, or relatively minor in nature;
- there is a low risk of repetition;
- the registrant has show good insight; and
- The registrant has undertaken appropriate remediation.

35. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has shown good insight into the conduct that led to his offending, he has undertaken appropriate remediation both under the Community Order imposed by the Magistrates’ Court and on his own initiative in the form of counselling, ceasing to drink alcohol and attending I-Access sessions. The Panel is also satisfied that the risk of repetition is low. The Panel is therefore satisfied that a Caution Order in this case is the appropriate and proportionate order to satisfy the public interest. Such an Order maintains confidence in the Physiotherapy profession and sends out a clear message that the sort of behaviour that led to the Registrant’s convictions will not be condoned.

36. The Panel has also had regard to paragraph 102 of the Sanctions Policy which states:
“A caution order should be considered in cases where the nature of the allegations mean that meaningful practice restrictions cannot be imposed, but a suspension of practice order would be disproportionate.”

37. The Panel has concluded that since there are no clinical concerns in this case and the offending conduct occurred outside the workplace, it could not devise meaningful, workable, or appropriate conditions of practice. The Panel has decided that while it is clear that convictions of the type involved in this case for any professional are serious, it does not consider them to be so serious that a Suspension Order is required to address the public interest concerns that arise. The Panel has already indicated in paragraph 33 above that the offending conduct in this case does not fall at the more serious end of the scale of seriousness. The Panel is satisfied that a Suspension Order in this case would be too harsh, and disproportionate.

38. The Panel has concluded that the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case is a Caution Order for a period of three years. The Panel takes the view that this period of time will enable the steps taken by the Registrant to remedy his convictions to become established. The Panel is aware that it takes time to make behavioural changes in relation to relationships. The Panel is satisfied that such a sanction protects the public and maintains public confidence in the Physiotherapy profession and in its regulatory body, while at the same time sending out a clear message to practitioners that this sort of conduct will not be condoned.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register with a Caution Order against the name of Bartosz Przezedziecki for a period of three years from the date on which the Order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Bartosz Przezdziecki

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/06/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution