Mr Corleone Atta Owusu

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS63184

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 21/06/2021 End: 17:00 29/06/2021

Location: Virtual hearing via video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

(as amended on day 1 of the heraing, namely, 21 June 2021)

Whilst registered as a Biomedical Scientist:

1. On or around 29 July 2017 you provided a CV to your recruitment agency with inaccurate information regarding your employment history, in that the CV you provided did not contain your employment at Broomfield Hospital and/or incorrectly listed that you had worked at Homerton University Hospital until August 2016.

2.  In or around June 2016, you advised Person B that you did not have morphology experience and/or would require training in morphology, despite

(a) your application to Broomfield Hospital referring to morphology experience; and/or

(b) you not informing Person C of this information when she discussed your morphology experience on or around 7 June 2016.

3.  In or around September 2016, you did not declare your employment at Broomfield Hospital and/or incorrectly listed Homerton University Hospital as your ‘Current/Most Recent Employer’ in your application for a role at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

4. On or around 20 July 2016, you continued to authorise coagulation results despite explicit instructions not to, from your line manager at Broomfield Hospital.

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(a) On or around 08 July 2016 you did not use boxes whilst undertaking Anticoagulation Clinical work;

(b) On or around 08 July 2016, you did not label plasma aliquot samples with full patient identifiers;

(c) On or around 08 July 2016, you did not demonstrate an understanding of the drug Dabigatran, during a conversation with Person A despite having discussed this with Person A previously and/or having attended a presentation about the drug;

(d) In or around July 2016, you provided incorrect answers on two occasions about the case of a prolonged APTT, whilst being observed undertaking Coagulation authorising;

(e) On or around 11 July 2016, you incorrectly rejected a D-dimer;

(f) On or around 14 July 2016, you ran Low Molecular Weight Heparin QC’s at one level instead of two;

(g) On or around 14 July 2016, you incorrectly stated that Warfarin could be the cause of significant prolonged APTT;

(h) On or around 15 July 2016, you performed D-dimer in a sample that was too old;

(i) On or around 15 July 2016, you loaded the D-dimer reagent onto the analyser without the use of a ‘penny’ under the bottle;

(j) On or around 27 January 2017, you did not respond to a request form for a patient with a possible Ectopic pregnancy in a timely manner.

6.  Your actions at paragraphs 1 – 3 were dishonest.

7.  Your actions at paragraphs 1 – 6 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

8.  By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practice is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Amendment of Allegation

1. Mr Bridges, on behalf of the HCPC, applied to amend the Allegation. He submitted that the amendments sought were necessary to clarify the allegation and better reflect the evidence. He also submitted that the HCPC were withdrawing four of the sub-particulars of Particular 5 because on a review of the case, it was clear that there was no evidence to support them and therefore it was right and proper that they should not be permitted to proceed any further.

2. Ms Herbert, on behalf of the Registrant, did not object to the amendment. The notice of this application was sent to the Registrant via email dated 10 November 2020 and there had been sufficient time for him to seek legal advice. Ms Herbert agreed with the submissions of Mr Bridges.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who said that it was open to the Panel to amend the allegation, provided the Panel was satisfied that no injustice would be caused by the amendments. The Panel considered that the amendments sought did not change the substance of the allegation. The amendments did clarify the allegation and would not cause injustice, as it is always preferable that allegations are as clear as possible so that registrants know what is alleged against them in order for them to respond. The Panel therefore allowed the amendments to be made. The amended Allegation is as set out above and the original Allegation is appended to this decision.

 

Background

4. The Registrant is a registered Biomedical Scientist (BMS) who was employed by Broomfield Hospital, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust from 6 June 2016 to 1 August 2016. On 2 August 2017 the HCPC received a referral from Broomfield Hospital concerning the Registrant’s knowledge and competency, as well as concerns around his integrity in failing to disclose his employment with them to a subsequent employer (Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow).

5. Upon investigating the matter, the HCPC received information from Princess Alexandra Hospital, where the Registrant worked from November 2016 to February 2017, raising further concerns about the Registrant’s competency, and about his honesty and integrity in failing to disclose his previous employment at Bloomfield Hospital.

 

The Hearing

HCPC's case

6. The Panel heard oral evidence from the following witnesses on behalf of the HCPC:


• Mr Compton, Director of Atlantis Medical Limited, which is the recruitment company used by the Registrant to obtain locum employment.


• Person C, who was the Blood Sciences Manager at Broomfield Hospital at all material times.


• Person A, who was the Senior Biomedical Scientist in the Coagulation department at Broomfield Hospital at all material times.


• Person B, who was a Senior Biomedical Scientist at Broomfield Hospital at all material times.


• Ms McGuinness, who was a Transfusion Laboratory and Pre-Analytical Manager at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust at all material times.

7. The Panel also heard evidence from the Registrant.

8. The Panel received documentary evidence from both parties. However, no contemporaneous notes or any of the relevant records of the patients or specimens were produced and it was clear from the witnesses that these could no longer be traced because no note was made of the relevant records or specimen.

9. The Panel found Mr Compton to be an open and honest witness. However, he could not recall much of the relevant details due to the passage time and as such his evidence was of limited assistance.

10. The Panel found Person A's evidence to be vague and of limited assistance. When she was questioned about the relevant incidents, she could not recall the detail or even some of the incidents due to the passage of time. She was open and honest about the shortcomings of her evidence in that she had not made contemporaneous notes and with the passage of time was unable to recall events.

11. The Panel found Person B's evidence to be consistent and balanced. He was an open and honest witness who told the Panel about the structure of the Haematology Department at Broomfield Hospital and the different sections in which the Registrant was employed when he started. He told the Panel about a conversation he had with the Registrant regarding his morphology skills and experience. However, he was not directly involved in most of the alleged incidents and therefore his evidence was of limited assistance.

12. The Panel found Person C to be an open and honest witness. Her evidence was calm, measured, fair and balanced. However, her evidence in relation to the allegation faced by the Registrant mainly consisted of hearsay evidence from Person A, Person B and also second-hand hearsay. When Person A and Person B were asked questions about their conversations with Person C, as noted by Person C, they could not recall the conversations. As such, Person C's evidence was of limited assistance.

No Case to Answer submission

13. At the end of the HCPC's case Ms Herbert, on behalf of the Registrant, submitted that there was no case to answer in relation to Particulars 4, 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5(g) and 5(j).

14. Ms Herbert referred the Panel to the case of R v. Galbraith [1981] 1 WLR 1039 and told the Panel that the main thrust of her argument is that there is no evidence upon which the Panel could find the particulars proved or that the evidence of the HCPC is so tenuous that, even if taken at its highest, the Panel could not properly find the Particular proved.

15. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that whilst there are no express provisions in the Rules for submissions of ‘No Case to Answer’, it is perfectly acceptable for a Panel to consider and rule upon a half-time submission made by or on behalf of the Registrant.

16. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that the approach it should adopt is to consider each disputed particular and firstly address the following question:

“Has the HCPC presented any evidence upon which the Panel could find that particular proved?”


If the answer is no, then there is no case to answer respecting that particular. If, however, the Panel determines that the HCPC has presented some relevant evidence, then the Panel should consider the following question:

“Is the evidence so unsatisfactory in nature that the Panel could not find that particular proved?”

17. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel must bear in mind that it is for the HCPC to prove the fact alleged and that the requisite standard of proof is the balance of probabilities. If the answer to either of the above questions is in the affirmative in relation to any particular, then there is no case to answer in relation to that particular.

18. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the evidence before it submitted by the HCPC in support of its case. It also had regard to the submissions of both parties.

Particular 4

4.  On or around 20 July 2016, you continued to authorise coagulation results despite explicit instructions not to, from your line manager at Broomfield Hospital.

19. In relation to Particular 4 Ms Herbert submitted that there was no evidence to prove the allegation. Person C, who gave evidence before Person A, said that she had been told this by Person A. However, when Person A came to give evidence and was asked directly about this conversation, she did not state that she had given the Registrant specific instructions not to authorise coagulation results. Ms Herbert pointed out that there was no evidence that the Registrant was informed that he could not authorise any coagulation results. She pointed out that the evidence at its highest was the evidence of Person A that she had concerns that the Registrant was unfamiliar with new anti-coagulation drugs and therefore should not authorise those results.

20. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

21. The Panel considered the evidence before it. It reminded itself of the evidence of Person A when she was asked about whether she had prohibited the Registrant from authorising or coagulation results. Person A did not have a recollection of so doing but did recall that the Registrant did not have competence to authorise every basic coagulation result. When she was asked whether she did in fact instruct the Registrant not to authorise any coagulation results, her reply was that she did not do so to her recollection. She said that she may have told him not to authorise some results, but not all results. In the circumstances, the Panel determined that the only evidence the HCPC could rely upon is that of Person C, which is hearsay. The Panel determined that, in circumstances where the person who is said to have made the report cannot recall such an incident and no contemporaneous notes had been made or relevant records been produced in evidence, no weight could be attached to the hearsay evidence.

22. The Panel determined that there is no evidence presented to it that showed the Registrant had been given instructions from his line manager that he was not to authorise coagulation results.

23. Therefore the Panel finds that there is no case to answer in relation to Particular 4.

Particular 5(c)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(c) In or around 08 July 2016, you did not demonstrate an understanding of the drug Dabigatran, during a conversation with Person A despite having discussed this with Person A previously and/or having attended a presentation about the drug;

24. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel of the evidence in the case, in particular the evidence of Person A who did not recall the conversation in question. She submitted that Person A's evidence was so vague and tenuous that it could not be relied upon.

25. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

26. The Panel noted that it was the HCPC's case that Person A had discussed the drug Dabigatran, which was a new anti-coagulant drug, and that later on the Registrant could not demonstrate an understanding of the drug. However, when Person A was asked about this matter, she said that because it was a new drug she had no real expectation that he would understand "how the drug worked and the mechanism".

27. The Panel found Person A's evidence to be understandable and realistic in her not expecting the Registrant to have an understanding of the drug Dabigatran at the time because it was a new drug. The Panel also noted that there was no evidence presented to it as to the date when the conversation took place. On that basis alone the Panel would determine that there was no case to answer on particular 5(c).

28. Notwithstanding the above, even if particular 5(c) were found to be proved, the evidence of Person A meant that it could not prove that the Registrant failed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge or practice in Biomedical Science, which is the stem of this particular.

29. Therefore the Panel determine that there was no case to answer particular 5(c).

Particular 5(d)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:
 
(d) On or around July 2016, you provided incorrect answers on two occasions about the case of a prolonged APTT, whilst being observed undertaking Coagulation authorising;

30. Ms Herbert pointed out that the HCPC's case was that the Registrant had given the wrong answer on the first occasion and had been corrected. He then gave the wrong answer a second time, which is said to have been a failure to demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science. Ms Herbert referred to the evidence and pointed out that there was no evidence that the Registrant had been corrected after he gave the wrong answer on the first occasion to Person A. She submitted that Person C's supposition that Person A would probably have corrected the Registrant after the first mistake was not evidenced. Rather, it was speculation as Person C accepted that she did not ask Person A whether or not the Registrant was corrected on the first occasion.

31. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

32. The Panel reminded itself of the Legal Assessor's advice that speculation was not evidence. The Panel noted that Person A did not deal with this particular in her evidence. The Panel determined that the evidence therefore was as Ms Herbert outlined. There was clear evidence that the Registrant's employer, Broomfield Hospital, was happy to train and educate the Registrant. However there was no evidence of the Registrant being corrected after the first occasion when he gave the wrong answer. No contemporaneous notes had been made or relevant records been produced in evidence. The Panel determined that the evidence before it in relation to this sub-particular was such that, taken at its highest, a Panel properly directed could not find it proved that in the circumstances the Registrant had not demonstrated professional knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science.

33. Therefore the Panel determined that there was no case in to answer in relation to particular 5(d).

Particular 5(e)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:
 
(e) On or around 11 July 2016, you incorrectly rejected a D-dimer;

34. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel that the evidence relating to this sub-particular consists of second-hand hearsay from Person C. Person C was relating what Person A said she was told by another BMS who is anonymous. Ms Herbert also pointed out that Person A did not give evidence regarding this sub-particular.

35. Ms Herbert submitted that in the circumstances the hearsay evidence of Person C is so tenuous that it cannot be relied upon and therefore there was no case to answer.

36. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

37. The Panel noted Person C's evidence that she herself did not speak to the other anonymous BMS to clarify what had happened. She acknowledged that no further investigation had taken place. No contemporaneous notes had been made or relevant records been produced in evidence.

38. The Panel agreed that the evidence in relation to this sub-particular is of such unsatisfactory nature that, even taken at its highest, a Panel properly directed as to the burden and standard of proof, could not find the matter proved. Person C's evidence regarding this sub-particular was second-hand hearsay evidence upon which no evidential weight could be placed.

39. Therefore the Panel determined that there was no case to answer in relation to particular 5(e).

Particular 5(g)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(g) On or around 14 July 2016, you incorrectly stated that Warfarin could be the cause of significant prolonged APTT;

40. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel that the evidence of Person C is that she was informed by Person A about this. However, Person A could not recall any details about this situation and therefore Person C's hearsay evidence is of limited value. Ms Herbert submitted that the evidence taken at its highest demonstrated that the Registrant had simply given a wrong answer to the question

41. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

42. The HCPC is again reliant upon the hearsay evidence of Person C of what she was told by Person A. Person A did not give evidence about this incident. The Panel did not have evidence as to the context of the incident and no direct evidence of the incident. No contemporaneous notes nor the relevant records were produced in evidence.

43. The Panel determined that the evidence in relation to this sub-particular is of such unsatisfactory nature that, even taken at its highest, a Panel properly directed as to the burden and standard of proof, could not find the matter proved. Person C's evidence regarding this sub-particular was hearsay evidence upon which no evidential weight could be placed.

Particular 5(j)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(j) On or around 27 January 2017, you did not respond to a request form for a patient with a possible Ectopic pregnancy in a timely manner.

44. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel of Ms McGuinness' evidence that on the day in question there were only BMS in the lab, one being the Registrant and the other who was supervising him, as the Registrant had not been "signed off" as being competent to work autonomously. She submitted out that there was no evidence that the Registrant was the one who took the booking or wrote in the logbook regarding this request form. She pointed out that there was no evidence of the supervision of the supervisor or of what instructions she had given to the Registrant in relation to how they were to work that day. She also pointed out that there was no evidence of when this request form had come in.

45. Miss Herbert submitted that, in the circumstances where the division of labour was not clearly defined, where ultimate responsibility lay with the supervisor as the Registrant had not been "signed off", and where there could not be a determination on timeliness without a time reference, there could not be a case to answer.

46. Mr Bridges conceded the merits of Ms Herbert's submission and did not resist the application for a finding of no case to answer.

47. The Panel determined that the evidence demonstrated that there had been a request form for a patient with a possible ectopic pregnancy, that it had been received in the unit before Ms McGuinness arrived at 16:45 pm on 27 January 2017 and that the Registrant had drawn it to her attention during the handover.

48. In the circumstances, the Panel determined that the Panel properly directed could find sub-particular 5(j) proved. It also determined that from the evidence before it, request forms for patients with possible ectopic pregnancy are serious matters that require urgent attention and therefore if this matter was found proved, a Panel, properly directed, could find that it proved the Registrant had failed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science.

49. Therefore, the Panel determined that there was a case to answer on sub-particular 5(j).

The Registrant's case

50. The Registrant then gave oral evidence to the Panel and also provided a bundle of documents that included character references together with a CPD training log and supporting documents.

51. The Registrant told the Panel of his experience and career as a BMS. He said that he did not specialise and had worked as a Locum BMS. He said that locum BMSs were normally not expected to be specialists because they could be placed wherever they were required by their employer at any given time. He said that he had never specialised in morphology and that prior to working at Broomfield Hospital he had never done morphology work intensively nor did he ever tell anyone that he had done so.

52. The Panel found the Registrant's evidence inconsistent and some of his answers evasive.

 

Decision on Facts

Particular 1

1. On or around 29 July 2017 you provided a CV to your recruitment agency with inaccurate information regarding your employment history, in that the CV you provided did not contain your employment at Broomfield Hospital and/or incorrectly listed that you had worked at Homerton University Hospital until August 2016.

53. The Registrant admitted this particular at the start of proceedings. However, the Panel was conscious that it was for the HCPC to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

54. The Registrant told the Panel that when he worked at Broomfield Hospital, he was there for only a short period of time.

55. Mr Bridges reminded the Panel that the Registrant accepted that he had sent the CV to Mr Compton and that he had completed the dates within the CV.

56. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel that the Registrant had admitted this particular at the start of proceedings but denied that his actions were dishonest as per Particular 6.

57. The evidence from this comes from the documentary evidence provided by the HCPC. It is clear from it that the CV in question did not contain the Registrant's employment at Broomfield Hospital nor did it set out that he had worked at Homerton University Hospital until August 2016.

58. On the evidence before it, the Panel was satisfied that particular 1 was proved on the balance of probabilities.

Particular 6 - Dishonesty in relation to Particular 1

6. Your actions at paragraphs 1 – 3 were dishonest.

59. The Registrant told the Panel that he had used the agency of Mr Compton for several years to gain employment as a Locum BMS. He said that on his own computer there were several versions of his CV at any given time. This was because he would occasionally update his CV and save the updated version separately from the previous versions. He said that when he sends his CV to Mr Compton's agency he would always intend to send the most up-to-date CV.

60. The Registrant accepted that the CV he sent to Mr Compton's agency on 29 July 2017 did not include his work at Broomfield Hospital and also had the incorrect dates of his employment at Homerton University Hospital.  He also accepted that the CV he subsequently sent to Mr Compton's agency on or around 16 August 2017 did list his employment at Broomfield Hospital and had the correct date of his employment at Homerton University Hospital.

61. The Registrant said that the corrections would have been done by him as the agency would not make corrections to a client's CV without verification by the Client.

62. Mr Bridges submitted that the evidence demonstrated that the Registrant had intentionally entered the wrong date on the CV. He submitted that if the Panel found that to be the case then it should find that the test for dishonesty was met in that the actions of the Registrant were intentional, that on the balance of probabilities his intent was to hide the fact of his employment at Broomfield hospital where he did not have a good experience, and the reasonable and honest person with full knowledge of the facts would consider his actions to be dishonest.

63. Ms Herbert drew the Panel's attention to the evidence from Mr Compton. She reminded the Panel that Mr Compton could not recall why the CV was sent to him on 29 July 2017 nor for what purpose it was submitted. She reminded the Panel that Mr Compton had told them there were other versions of the Registrant's CV on his company's system. Mr Compton had told the Panel there was another version of the Registrant's CV on his system dated two weeks after the CV in question had been sent that had the correct information in relation to Broomfield Hospital.

64. Ms Herbert submitted that there was no other evidence to support that the Registrant submitted the CV in question other than through a mistake. She pointed to the documentation of the recruiting agency of Mr Compton and how they had two versions of the Registrant's CV. She submitted that in the circumstances the Panel could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant had acted dishonestly. She reminded the Panel that dishonesty allegations against professionals were very serious allegations and that the more serious the allegation, the more cogent the evidence should be before the Panel finds such an allegation proved.

65. The Panel took into account the Registrant's evidence that it was a mistake when he submitted the CV with the incomplete information and the reasons for that mistake. The Panel found the Registrant's evidence with regard to this particular to be incongruous. His evidence for the inaccuracies in the CV submitted was that it was a mistake on his part when he left his time at Broomfield Hospital off. However he accepts that when he was spoken to by his employer at the time regarding it he had said the reason he did not include his time at Broomfield Hospital was because he had not been there for very long and they did not know him very well. The former reason would be because he had forgotten, the latter reason being an intentional action. The Panel did not find it likely that the Registrant could have forgotten the time that he worked at Broomfield Hospital because it was within the same year and because he did not have a very good experience working there.

66. The Panel also took into account the notes taken by the interviewers at the job interview for the role at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust. The interviewers had recorded a list of previous employment mentioned by the Registrant at interview which did not include Broomfield Hospital.

67. In the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant had intentionally left off his employment at Broomfield Hospital on the CV that was submitted for his application for employment at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust. The Panel also determined that on the balance of probabilities, the reason for doing so was because he was unlikely to get a good report from them and therefore including his employment there could have jeopardised his application to Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust.

68. The Panel was satisfied that a reasonable and honest member of the public, with full knowledge of the facts, would consider the Registrant's actions to be dishonest.

69. Therefore the Panel finds Particular 6 proved in relation to Particular 1.

Particular 2

2.  In or around June 2016, you advised Person B that you did not have morphology experience and/or would require training in morphology, despite

(a) your application to Broomfield Hospital stating the contrary referring to morphology experience; and/or

(b) you not informing Person C of this information when she discussed your morphology experience on or around 7 June 2016.

70. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel that it was accepted that the Registrant may have said to Person B that he would require some training in relation to morphology and that there was some limited reference to morphology in the Registrant's application to Broomfield Hospital. However, she reminded the Panel that the evidence that asserted the Registrant had morphology experience came from Person C. Ms Herbert submitted that when the Registrant wrote that as part of his duties and responsibilities, "I prepare, stain and carry out microscopical examination of thick/thin blood films for the examination/identification of blood-born parasite (MALARIA) and blood cell morphology", blood cell morphology was intended to refer to Malaria.

71. The Panel considered what was written on the Registrant's application form and was of the view that it did give the impression that the Registrant did have morphology experience. The Panel did not accept the basis of Ms Herbert's submission that it did not give an impression of morphology experience. The Panel took the view that it was clear that was written there did not relate only to Malaria. The proper construction of the sentence that the Registrant wrote in his application is that he was talking about blood films in relation to malaria and that he was also writing about blood cell morphology in a disjunctive sense.

72. Therefore the Panel finds Particular 2(a) proved on the balance of probabilities.

73. In relation to Particular 2(b) the same submission is made by Ms Herbert in relation to the Registrant's affirmative answer to Person C when she said to him "I understand from your interview notes that your special area of expertise is in blood film is malaria. Is that right?" Person C told the Panel that blood film is related to morphology and the detection of malaria parasites did not overlap with morphology because the techniques are different.

74. The Panel accepted Person C's evidence in relation to this particular. It also determined that as a Band 6 BMS the Registrant should have, and would have, understood the distinction between morphology and the techniques used to detect malaria parasites.

75. Therefore the Panel finds Particular 2(b) proved on the balance of probabilities.

Particular 6 - Dishonesty in relation to Particular 2

6. Your actions at paragraphs 1 – 3 were dishonest.

76. Mr Bridges drew out the evidence of the assessment of the Registrant's application form to Broomfield Hospital and the answers he gave when interviewed for that role. He pointed to the actions of the staff at Broomfield Hospital and submitted that it was clear that they had relied upon an understanding that the Registrant had experience in morphology, which was incorrect. He submitted that there was a mistaken understanding arising from the answers given by the Registrant in his CV and his answer to Person C.

77. Ms Herbert submitted that the misunderstanding of the Registrant's morphology could not be laid at the Registrant's door and therefore his actions could not be dishonest.

78. The Panel reminded itself of the Legal Assessor's advice to give careful consideration to each allegation and how they are drafted. The actions of the Registrant that are alleged to be dishonest in Particular 2 are that, in or around June 2016, he advised Person B that he did not have morphology experience and/or would require training in morphology.

79. The evidence demonstrated that Person B had wrongly understood that the Registrant had experience in morphology. There was clear evidence that Person B had not come to that wrong impression because of what the Registrant had written on his application form or what he had said in interview. This is because Person B had not been involved in the sifting of application forms (and therefore had not seen his application form) nor had he been part of the panel that interviewed the Registrant for the role. In any case, on the evidence and in light of the Panel's finding in relation to 2(a) and 2(b) what the Registrant was doing, was to correct the wrong impression that Person B had about his morphology experience.

80. The Panel determined that the actions taken by someone to correct a misunderstanding would not be considered by the reasonable and honest person to be dishonest. Likewise, the Panel determined that the reasonable and honest person with knowledge of the facts would not consider the Registrant's correction of Person B's incorrect understanding of his morphology experience to be dishonest, however that misunderstanding arose.

81. Therefore the Panel finds the HCPC has not proved Particular 6 in relation to Particular 2.

Particular 3

3.  In or around September 2016, you did not declare your employment at Broomfield Hospital and/or incorrectly listed Homerton University Hospital as your ‘Current/Most Recent Employer’ in your application for a role at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

82. At the start of proceedings the Registrant admitted this particular.

83. The Panel had sight of the application form submitted by the Registrant for the role at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust where he listed his current employment (at that time) as the Homerton University Hospital. The Panel also noted that the Registrant did not list his previous employment at Broomfield Hospital in the relevant section of the application form.

84. In his evidence, the Registrant told the Panel that at the time he had been working at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as a Locum BMS.

85. The Panel determined that Particular 3 is proved.

Particular 6 - Dishonesty in relation to Particular 3

6. Your actions at paragraphs 1 – 3 were dishonest.

86. The Registrant told the Panel that the application to Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust was made via the NHS Jobs website. He said that he had made various applications in the past through this website and the details would be stored and updated by him for each application.

87. The Registrant told the Panel that it had been a mistake on his part, possibly due to tiredness, that he had not put Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as his current employer at that time. He told the Panel that he had an excellent experience working at Papworth and that the staff there loved him and therefore there was no good reason for him to intentionally not put them down as his current employer at the time.

88. It was pointed out to the Registrant that it was clear, when looking at the application form in question, that he had changed his referees and he accepted that was the case. The Registrant was asked why he had changed the first referee from a colleague at Homerton University Hospital to another colleague at Homerton University Hospital, instead of using colleagues at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where he was working at the time. The Registrant replied that his manager at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had wanted to give him a reference but the Registrant decided not to take up that offer as his colleague at Homerton University Hospital had already agreed to provide him with the reference.

89. It was also pointed out to the Registrant that he had put on the form that the first referee was listed as "Current Employer" and asked why he had not used the reference from Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The Registrant replied that he had admitted that and that it was an error that he regretted.

90. Mr Bridges pointed out that the evidence was clear that the Registrant had not declared his employment at Broomfield hospital and had incorrectly listed Homerton Hospital as his current employer in his application form for a role at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust. He submitted that from the evidence before it, the Panel could be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the omission and misrepresentation were intentional. He submitted that the reasonable and honest person would consider the Registrant's actions in doing so to be dishonest.

91. Ms Herbert submitted that the dishonesty allegation was not supported by the documentary evidence. She pointed out that whilst the application form did not list the Registrant's employment at Broomfield Hospital, it also did not list his employment at Papworth Hospital where he was in fact employed at the time of the application and should have been included. She submitted that there was no good reason why the Registrant would have tried to lie about his employment at Papworth Hospital because it had been a good experience for him and the staff there. She submitted that this lent credibility to the Registrant's account that these were mistakes rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead.

92. The Panel took into account that the Registrant's experience at Broomfield Hospital had been a negative one and that his experience at Papworth Hospital had been a positive one. The Panel found the Registrant's evidence to be inconsistent. In his evidence, one of the reasons for not putting Papworth Hospital as his current employer was because he may have been tired from the journey back from Papworth Hospital that day. The Panel did not find this to be a plausible explanation. The Panel also found that the Registrant had a reason for leaving out his employment at Broomfield Hospital because there had been issues raised there about his performance and they were unlikely to provide references that supported his application to Princess Alexandra Hospital.

93. The Panel looked at the application form. In the section under current employer, the Registrant had put the Homerton Hospital which was incorrect. The Panel found it unlikely that he would have forgotten that he had worked at Broomfield Hospital from June 2016 to August 2016, where he had started work several weeks after leaving Homerton Hospital.

94. The Panel was satisfied on the evidence before it that the errors on the Registrant's application to Princess Alexandra Hospital were intentional. The Panel was also satisfied that an ordinary and honest person with full knowledge of the facts would consider the Registrant's intentional errors to be dishonest.

95. Therefore the Panel finds Particular 6 proved in relation to Particular 3.

Particular 5(a)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(a) On or around 08 July 2016 you did not use boxes whilst undertaking Anticoagulation Clinical work;

96. At the start of proceedings, the Registrant admitted that he did not use boxes whilst undertaking anticoagulation clinical work on that day, but denied that it meant that he did not demonstrate professional knowledge and practice in Biomedical Science.

97. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert did not make submissions regarding this sub-particular.

98. The evidence was clear from the witnesses that this system of boxes was not a universal system used by biomedical science laboratories and would appear to be, in the circumstances, unique to Broomfield Hospital. The Panel was also aware that the use of boxes was not a requirement for registration as a Biomedical Scientist.

99. Therefore, the Panel found that Particular 5(a) is not proved.

Particular 5(b)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(b) On or around 08 July 2016, you did not label plasma aliquot samples with full patient identifiers;

100. At the start of proceedings, the Registrant admitted that on the day in question he did not label ONE plasma aliquot sample with full patient identifiers but denied that it proved that he did not demonstrate professional knowledge and practice in Biomedical Science.

101. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert did not make submissions regarding this sub-particular.

102. The evidence of Person A is that she could not remember this incident. The Registrant says that it was only one sample, that it was not lost and they were able to retrieve it and correct the error. Person C's evidence gives the impression that the Registrant had not done so on multiple occasions on that day but that the hearsay evidence of what she was told by Person A, was not supported by the evidence of Person A. Furthermore, Person C's letter to the Registrant dated 25 July 2016 says that the Registrant labelled one plasma aliquot in such a manner on that day in question.

103. The Panel determined that there was only evidence that the Registrant mislabelled one plasma aliquot sample on that day. The Panel determined that was not sufficient evidence that the Registrant had failed to demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science, particularly in the light of evidence from the relevant witnesses that mistakes do happen in the normal course of things.

104. Therefore, the Panel found that Particular 5(b) is not proved.

Particular 5(f)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(f) On or around 14 July 2016, you ran Low Molecular Weight Heparin QC’s at one level instead of two;

105. At the start of proceedings, the Registrant admitted that on the day in question he ran a Low Molecular Weight Heparin QCs at one level instead of two, but denied that this showed he had not demonstrated professional knowledge and or practice in Biomedical Science. He told the Panel that he did not know how the error occurred. He said that this occurred only once on that day.

106. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert did not make submissions regarding this sub-particular.

107. Person C's evidence is hearsay evidence about what Person A told her about this matter. Person C's evidence gives the impression that this occurred on multiple occasions. However, Person A cannot recall the incident. Furthermore, no documentary evidence was produced before the Panel nor any of the records in which it is alleged that this occurred.

108. The Panel was aware that a failure to run this quality control properly was a serious matter and would have resulted in the test being invalidated and having to be repeated again. The Panel found that it was unlikely that, if the Registrant had done this on multiple occasions on the day in question, there would be no record made of his errors or a record that all those tests had to be re-done as a result. If such an incident had occurred, it was unlikely that Person A would have forgotten about it.

109. The Panel determined that the Registrant did not carry out the relevant quality controls in relation to one sample only on the day in question. The Panel determined that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the Registrant had failed to demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science, particularly in the light of evidence from the relevant witnesses that mistakes do happen in the normal course of things.

110. Therefore, the Panel found that Particular 5(f) is not proved.

Particular 5(h)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:
 
(h) On or around 15 July 2016, you performed D-dimer in a sample that was too old;

111. At the start of proceedings, the Registrant admitted that on the day in question he had performed a D-dimer in a sample that was too old, but denied that this showed that he did not demonstrate professional knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science.

112. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert did not make submissions regarding this sub-particular.

113. The Panel noted that there was no real evidence to support this allegation from the HCPC. The evidence from Person C is hearsay evidence of what she was told by Person A about this. Person A did not recall this incident when asked about it in her evidence.

114. No documentary evidence has been provided to the Panel regarding this sample to show that it was too old when the Registrant added it.

115. The Panel considered that had a no case to answer submission been made on this sub-particular, the Panel would have found there to be no case to answer.

116. Therefore, the Panel find Particular 5(h) not proved.

Particular 5(i)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

 (i) On or around 15 July 2016, you loaded the D-dimer reagent onto the analyser without the use of a ‘penny’ under the bottle;

117. At the start of proceedings, the Registrant admitted that on the day in question he had loaded the D-dimer reagent onto the analyser without the use of a penny (as in the coin) under the bottle but denied that this showed he did not demonstrate professional knowledge and/or practice in biomedical science.

118. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert did not make submissions regarding this sub-particular.

119. The Panel noted that there was no evidence to support this allegation from the HCPC. The evidence from Person C is hearsay evidence of what she was told by Person A, that Person A had been told about this by another BMS. Person A did not recall this incident when asked about it in her evidence. Person C herself in interview said that she had not been at all concerned about this as it was an easy mistake to make, meaning that it was not important and that she did not think it showed the Registrant had not demonstrated professional knowledge and/or practice in biomedical science. Person C said that she did not make any further enquiries about this. Furthermore, the Panel heard evidence that this was not standard operating procedure for the analyser set up by the manufacturers and it was a local practice brought about by the hospital.

120. The Panel considered that had a no case to answer submission been made on this sub-particular, the Panel would have found there to be no case to answer.

121. Therefore, the Panel find Particular 5(i) not proved.

Particular 5(j)

5.  You did not demonstrate proficient knowledge and/or practice in Biomedical Science in that:

(j) On or around 27 January 2017, you did not respond to a request form for a patient with a possible Ectopic pregnancy in a timely manner.

122. The Registrant denied that he did not respond to a request form for a patient with a possible ectopic pregnancy in a timely manner on the day in question. He told the Panel that on the day in question he had not been signed off to be able to deal with such a request and that he was being supervised by another BMS.

123. Ms McGuinness confirmed the above to the Panel. Ms McGuinness told the Panel that on the day in question there were just the two BMS working in that laboratory, the Registrant and his supervisor. She said that when she arrived for the late shift at 16:45 pm, the supervisor had left and the Registrant had to do the handover. She said that the Registrant had brought this request form to her attention. She said that the Registrant would have known about the request form, how urgent it was to deal with it and that he had not done so in a timely manner. She accepted that she made that conclusion without making further enquiries or speaking to the supervising BMS. Ms McGuinness accepted that the ultimate responsibility for the work of the lab that day lay with the supervisor unless she had delegated the work to the Registrant.

124. The Registrant pointed out that as he had not been signed off as being able to work autonomously and was being supervised, the ultimate responsibility lay with the supervisor. He said that he could not act on his own without being instructed to do so in the circumstances. He also said that he did not know when the request came in and he did not know about it until he looked into the "crossmatch logbook" on handover when he drew it to the attention of Ms McGuinness. He said that it was unfair that Ms McGuinness would jump to the wrong conclusion without making any enquiries whatsoever with the supervisor, particularly in the light that the ultimate responsibility did not lie with him but with the supervisor who had left early and who should have been doing the handover. He told the Panel that the supervisor had not asked him to deal with the request in question nor drawn it to his attention.

125. Mr Bridges did not make any submissions on this sub-particular, stating that it was a clinical matter on which the Panel did not need submissions from him.

126. Ms Herbert reminded the Panel that Ms McGuinness had accepted that there were two people in that lab that day and that for some reason the supervisor had left the Registrant in the laboratory alone despite the fact he had not been signed off as competent in that area. She pointed out that Miss McGuinness could not say when the request had come in, or who took the booking, or who entered the request into the "crossmatch book".

127. Ms Herbert also made the point that the Registrant was being brought before the Panel on this sub-particular because he had not dealt with the request. However, had the Registrant dealt with the request without authorisation, he would also have been brought before the Panel for acting outside the scope of his ability. She submitted that this could not be right and that the Panel should find that the Registrant had acted properly in the circumstances. She submitted that the blame for not dealing with the request in a timely manner lay with the supervisor. She reminded the Panel that Ms McGuinness had accepted that the supervisor also bore blame for the failure but refused to accept that the supervisor bore all the blame.

128. The only evidence regarding this request is that Ms McGuinness became aware of it at 16:45 pm on the day in question. It has not been produced in evidence, no statement has been made about when it was booked in, the "crossmatch book" has not been produced in evidence and a statement has not been taken from the supervisor in question.

129. Having heard the evidence of the Registrant, the Panel is not satisfied that the HCPC has proved this to the necessary standard.

130. The Panel determined that the HCPC has failed to prove Particular 5(j).

 

Determination on Statutory Grounds

131. The Panel then went on to consider whether the factual particulars found proved amounted to misconduct and/or lack of competence.  The Panel heard the submissions of Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert.

132. Mr Bridges submitted that the Registrant’s actions breached the following paragraphs of the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics: 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9.

133. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

134. The Panel was aware that misconduct is “a word of general effect, involving some act or omission, which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances.” It is also aware that it was stressed that Misconduct is qualified by the word “serious”. It is not just any professional misconduct which will qualify.

135. The Panel was also aware that not every instance of falling short of what would be proper in the circumstances, and not every breach of the HCPC standards would be sufficiently serious such as to amount to misconduct in this context. Therefore, the Panel has had careful regard to the context and circumstances of the matters found proved. The Panel considered each of the factual particulars in the light of the following circumstances demonstrated by the evidence:

(a) The Registrant was a Biomedical Scientist with a previously unblemished professional record.

(b) These matters occurred over a period of several months from September 2016 to July 2017.

136. The Panel determined that the particulars it had found proved were matters of conduct rather than competence.

Particulars 1, 3 and 6

137. The Panel considered Particulars 1 and 3 together in the light of its finding that they were dishonest conduct.

138. Mr Bridges reminded the Panel of the definition of misconduct and that it included conduct that fellow practitioners would consider to be deplorable. He submitted that the Registrant’s dishonest conduct in this case would be considered by fellow practitioners to be deplorable in the circumstances.

139. Ms Herbert accepted that the Panel may view these matters as being so serious that they could amount to misconduct in relation to the HCPC’s policies and procedures.

140. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He reminded the Panel that whether the Registrant’s conduct amounted to misconduct was a matter for the Panel’s professional judgement and that there was no burden or standard of proof at this stage.

141. The Panel was aware itself that misconduct is “a word of general effect, involving some act or omission, which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances”, and that misconduct is qualified by the word “serious”. Adjectives such as ‘deplorable’ and ‘opprobrium’ have been used by the Courts to describe the level of seriousness that would meet the threshold of misconduct in these proceedings.

142. The Registrant's dishonest conduct was carried out on two occasions several months apart. Whilst the Panel accepted Ms Herbert's submission that the Registrant had not perpetuated the deceit when he was asked about it by his employer, the Panel noted that the Registrant had not taken steps to correct his misrepresentation prior to that.

143. The Panel considered that by his conduct set out Particulars 1, 3 and 6 the Registrant had breached the following paragraphs of the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics:

9.1  You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession.

9.2  You must be honest about your experience, qualifications and skills.


144. The Panel determined that the Registrant’s conduct in relation to these particulars were serious and that his peers would consider them to be deplorable. Honesty is the bedrock of any profession.

145. Accordingly the Panel finds that the Particulars 1 and 3, being dishonest as per Particular 6, amounted to the statutory ground of Misconduct.

Particular 2

146. The Panel noted the submissions of Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert in relation to this particular.

147. As the Panel has determined as part of its finding of fact, the actions of the Registrant were to correct the mistaken impression of his experience in morphology on the part of his colleagues.

148. The Panel did not consider the conduct of the Registrant as set out in this particular to be so serious as to amount to misconduct. In relation to 2(a), the evidence indicated that the laboratory had processes in place where they would assess all new BMS before allowing them to work autonomously. Therefore the Registrant's conduct had little or no impact on patient care and there was a realistic expectation on behalf of the Registrant that his competency would be assessed.

149. In relation to 2(b), there was no evidence as to how Person C come to the mistaken impression of the Registrant's experience in morphology. She had not been part of the team that sifted the application forms nor had she been part of the interviewing panel. The evidence therefore would indicate that she gained that impression from the people who had carried out those exercises. The evidence demonstrated that there was an urgent need for a band 6 BMS to be employed at that time. The Panel could not be satisfied that the misunderstanding as to the Registrant's experience in morphology did not arise from the interviewers' desire to employ the Registrant to fill that vacancy.

150. Taking the circumstances into consideration, the Panel determined that Particular 2 did not amount to misconduct.

 

Decision on Impairment

151. The Panel then went on to consider, whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his misconduct. The Panel heard the submissions of Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert. It also accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

152. The Legal Assessor drew the Panel’s attention to the approach set out in the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant (2011) EWHC 927 (Admin), and reminded the Panel that there was a personal and public component when considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise was currently impaired.

153. For this purpose, the Panel adopted the approach formulated by Dame Janet Smith in her fifth report of the Shipman inquiry by asking itself the following questions:

“Do our findings of fact in respect of the Registrant’s misconduct show that his fitness to practise is impaired in the sense that he:

a) has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or

b) has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the Biomedical Science profession into disrepute; and/or

c) has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the Biomedical Science profession?”; and or

d) has in the past acted dishonestly and/or is liable in the future to act dishonestly?”

154. The Panel determined that by his conduct, the Registrant had brought the Biomedical Science profession into disrepute, breached a fundamental tenet of the profession, and acted dishonestly in the past.

155. However, it is determined that the Registrant was unlikely to repeat his misconduct and therefore he was unlikely in the future to bring the Biomedical Science profession into disrepute, breach a fundamental tenet of the profession, or act dishonestly in the future.

156. In coming to its decision it took into account the following factors:

(a) The Registrant had engaged with the disciplinary process and had spoken of his regret and demonstrated insight into his actions.

(b) The Registrant had been on an Interim Suspension Order for seven months before it was converted to an Interim Conditions of Practice Order and then lifted in November 2018. The Panel accepted that the suspension of seven months had been a salutary experience for him.

(c) The Registrant has demonstrated in evidence the steps he now takes to ensure that his CVs and applications are accurate and up-to-date. The Panel noted that the Registrant stated that he had made further applications since these matters arose, that he had taken steps to ensure the accuracy of those applications, including having them checked by a supervisor. His most recent application had been submitted just over a week before this hearing.

(d) There has not been a repetition of the misconduct nor has there been any reported misconduct since these matters were reported.

(e) The references provided on his behalf that speak highly of the Registrant and that one of the referees stated that they had no reason to question the Registrant's honesty and integrity.

157. The Panel was satisfied on the evidence that the Registrant's misconduct was limited and did not denote a deep-seated attitudinal problem.

158. Therefore the Panel determined that the Registrant's fitness to practise is not currently impaired on the personal component.

159. However, the Panel determined that the Registrant's misconduct was so serious that an ordinary and informed member of the public would be surprised and concerned if no finding of impairment of fitness to practise was made in this case.

160. The Panel determined that the Registrant’s misconduct was such that the need to uphold professional standards and public confidence in the professions would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in these circumstances.

161. Therefore the Panel determined that the Registrant's fitness to practise is currently impaired on the public component.

 

Decision on Sanction

162. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired, the Panel then considered what sanction, if any, should be imposed. It took into account the submissions of Mr Bridges and Ms Herbert.

163. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised the Panel that it should bear in mind that its overarching duty is:

(a)     to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public;

(b)     to promote and maintain public confidence in the professions regulated by the HCPC;

(c)     to promote and maintain proper professional standards and conduct for members of those professions;

(d)   to protect the public and also the wider public interest, which includes maintaining and declaring proper standards of conduct and behaviour, maintaining the reputation of the profession, and maintaining public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

164. The Legal Assessor drew the Panel's attention to the following cases:

(a)    Parkinson v NMC [2010] EWHC 1898 (Admin)

(b)    Lusinga v NMC [2017] EWHC 1458

(c)    Okeke v NMC [2013] EWHC 714 (Admin)

(d)    Kamberova v NMC [2016] EWHC 2955 (Admin)

165. The Panel had regard to all the evidence presented, and to the HCPTS’ Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel reminded itself that a sanction is not to be punitive although it may have a punitive effect. The Panel bore in mind the principles of fairness and proportionality when determining what the appropriate sanction in this case should be.

166.  The Panel was aware that any sanction it imposes must be the least restrictive sanction that, in this case, is sufficient to protect the public interest. It should take into consideration the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case. The Panel also reminded itself that it must apply the principle of proportionality, weighing the Registrant’s interest against the public interest. 

Panel’s consideration and decision

167. The Panel had regard to all the evidence presented, and to the HCPTS’ Indicative Sanctions Policy. This was not a case where the Registrant’s clinical skills are in question. The referees attest to the Registrant being a competent Biomedical Scientist. There are no identifiable areas of his practice that might benefit from re-training.

168. The Panel was aware that dishonesty encompasses a wide range of different facts and circumstances. The Panel adopted a more nuanced approach in that respect and determined that the dishonesty exhibited in this case was at the lower end of the spectrum of seriousness. It was not prolonged, the Registrant corrected the misrepresentations as soon as he was asked about them, and they were two isolated incidents when looked at in the overall context of the Registrant’s long career.

169. The Panel took into account the factors it had done when considering the issue of current impairment. In addition, it took into account the following factors:

a) the Registrant had fully engaged with this regulatory process;

b) no actual harm was caused to any patient or service user;

c) the Registrant has expressed regret and is ashamed of his actions;

d) the Registrant had been on an Interim Suspension Order for a period of seven months starting in 2017, which was then varied to an Interim Conditions of Practice Order for four months. This meant that there had been restrictions placed upon his registration for almost a year;

e) the personal difficulties encountered by the Registrant as a result of the Interims Suspension Order;

f) the Registrant had complied with the terms of the Interim Conditions of Practice Order;

g) the long delay between the HCPC receiving the referral and this final hearing;  

h) the Registrant’s previously long and unblemished record as a Biomedical Scientist;

i) the positive professional references provided on his behalf; and

j) although all matters of dishonesty are serious, this misconduct was at the lower end of the spectrum.

170. The Panel first considered taking no action but concluded that the misconduct in this case was too serious for no action to be appropriate. The Panel was aware that, as impairment had been found, its decision would be published regardless of whether a sanction was imposed and that the publication of its determination on misconduct carried a degree of public opprobrium and would affect the Registrant's reputation, both personal and professional.

171. The Panel took into account Ms Herbert's submission that the Registrant has been held to account, and that proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared by the finding of misconduct and current impairment on public interest grounds alone.

172. However, the Panel determined that whilst the dishonesty in this case lay at the lower end of the spectrum of dishonesty, dishonesty of any kind was too serious for the Panel to take no action.

173. The Panel then considered whether to make a Caution Order. It bore in mind that a caution order would not restrict the Registrant’s right to practise. The Panel was satisfied that it was conduct that was out of character for the Registrant. This was supported by one of his referees who had written two references for these proceedings attesting to this. The Panel was mindful of its finding that the Registrant has demonstrated sufficient insight, has taken positive steps to avoid a repetition of his misconduct and has provided assurances that he was unlikely to repeat his misconduct.

174. The Panel was aware that a caution order is not an insignificant sanction. It will appear on the Registrant's online register entry for the period specified. It will appear with a link to the Panel’s decision for any prospective employer to access, and could be taken into account if any further allegation is made against the Registrant.

175. The Panel determined that, in this case, the public interest would be met with the imposition of a Caution Order as a sanction. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations, would countenance the Registrant’s return to unrestricted practice to continue his service to the public.

176. In verifying whether or not the Caution Order was the sufficient and proportionate order, the Panel gave consideration to the more serious sanction of conditions of practice. The Panel agreed with Ms Herbert's submissions that conditions of practice would not be suitable in such cases. As the Legal Assessor reminded the Panel, cases of dishonesty are rarely dealt with effectively through conditions because the professional expectation is that the person will act with honesty in the normal conduct of their responsibilities as a Registrant.

177. The Panel agreed with Ms Herbert's submission that if meaningful and workable conditions of practice could not be drafted then, instead of going higher to the more serious sanction, the Panel should look to impose the lesser restrictive sanction of a caution order.

178. Nevertheless, the Panel also considered whether or not the sanction of suspension of the Registrant's registration would be the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case. The Panel determined that such a sanction would be disproportionate and punitive in nature. The Panel determined that if a member of the public was given full knowledge of this case, particularly that:

(a) this was a case where the Registrant did not pose a risk to members of the public and impairment was on the public interest grounds alone;

(b) the Registrant has already had his registration suspended for seven months and then conditions placed upon his registration for four months,

(c) there are no concerns about the Registrant's practice or competence;

(d) there is a national shortage of experienced, registered Biomedical Scientists in the country;

that member of the public would be shocked if the Panel impose a sanction of suspension. That member of the public would consider that the public interest in this case was in favour of the retention of the Registrant who is able to make a valuable contribution to the profession and society.

179. The Panel also noted that the sanctions policy states, at paragraph 101:

"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. In these cases, panels should provide a clear explanation of why it has chosen a non-restrictive sanction, even though the panel may have found there to be a risk of repetition (albeit low)"

180. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order is the appropriate and proportionate sanction that is sufficient to satisfy the wider public interest.

181. The Panel determined that, in the circumstances, the appropriate and proportionate period for which the Caution Order should be imposed will be one year, given the need for public confidence to be upheld and a deterrent effect on the profession at large.

 

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register entry of Mr Corleone Atta Owusu with a Caution which is to remain on the Register for a period of 1 year from the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Corleone Atta Owusu

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
21/06/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution