Collins Esona

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS68067

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 15/11/2021 End: 17:00 15/11/2021

Location: Virtual hearing - Video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

While registered as a Biomedical Scientist and employed at the Liverpool Clinical Laboratories:

1. (Proved in Part)

a. (Proved in Part).

b. (Proved in Part).

c. (Proved in Part)

d. (Proved in Part).

 

2. You made the following inappropriate comments to Colleague 2:

a. “get pregnant, you would look nice pregnant”, or word to that effect.

b. “you have a good body”, or words to that effect.

c. “you should work out, it will be good for your sex life”, or words to that effect.

d. That Colleague 2 looked like a celebrity you “fancied”.

e. “you are good looking”, or words to that effect.

f. “I like to watch you at work”, or words to that effect.

g. “you have beautiful eyes”, or words to that effect.

h. “you are my Colleague 2 and you are mine”, or words to that effect.

 

3. You made the following inappropriate comments to Colleague 3:

a. (Not proved)

b. That you were single and you and Colleague 3 should see where it goes, or words to that effect.

c. “Get pregnant, because pregnant women like me”, or words to that effect.

 

4. You did not follow correct laboratory procedures in that on one or more occasion you did not provide an appropriate handover to colleagues.

 

5. You did not follow Standard Operating Procedures with regard to authorising results:

a. on or around 1 August 2016.

b. on or around 5 September 2016.

 

6. Your actions at paragraphs 2a), b), c) d) e) f) g), (Not proved), 3b) and/or 3c) were sexually motivated.

 

7. The matters described in paragraphs 1 – 3 and 6 amount to misconduct.

 

8. The matters described in paragraphs 4 – 5 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

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

Finding

Hearing in Private.
Mr D. made an unopposed application for those parts of the hearing that refer to the Registrant’s private/family life to be heard in private. The Panel granted this application, in accordance with the provisions of section 10 (1)(a) of the Procedure Rules 2003.
Background
1.     The Registrant started work as a band 6 Biomedical Scientist for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust (The Trust) in April 2016. He was based in a routine haematology laboratory where he was primarily responsible for processing patient samples and authorising results.
2.     On the 6 April 2018 the Trust made a referral to the HCPC and set out within it a number of concerns it had in relation both to capability issues and disciplinary in relation to the Registrant.
3.      There was an incident on the 1 August 2016 when the Registrant had failed to follow Standard Operating Procedures in regard to authorisation of results. As a result, time was lost in the treatment of a very unwell patient.
4.     A second incident occurred on the 5 September 2016 when the Registrant authorised a number of results which he was not entitled to do without supervision.
5.     The Trust investigation included other concerns that were raised to do with complaints that the Registrant was responsible for in relation to the bullying of work colleagues.
6.     The Trust investigation concluded that the Registrant had a case to answer in respect of these bullying allegations. However, on the 1 March 2018, the Registrant resigned from the Trust before it was possible to schedule a disciplinary hearing.
7.     The particulars of the Allegation as set out above were considered in November of last year by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee of the HCPC.
8.     During the course of this Final Hearing, the Panel heard evidence from several work colleagues and the Registrant himself. The Registrant made no admissions. Indeed, he claimed that the witnesses had conspired to damage his career and to get rid of him from the Trust. However, the Registrant was recalled and made belated admissions to particulars 1, 4 and 5. He stated that, having heard evidence and reflected over the weekend, he saw that the problems he encountered were partly of his own making.
9.     Although the Panel gave him some credit for this change of heart, it took the view that the Registrant could have reached this conclusion months earlier and that his original evidence must have been untruthful with respect to those particulars he later admitted.
10. The Panel also commented that the Registrant’s evidence had been underpinned by a feeling of unwarranted superiority and that he had appeared to show arrogance about his own capabilities. 
11. In reaching its findings, the Panel stressed that the Registrant’s clinical misconduct in respect in particulars 4 and 5 had been serious and had put patients at risk of harm.
12. Furthermore, the Panel commented that the Registrant had shown very little if any genuine insight into his misconduct and had not begun to recognise the seriousness of his behaviour towards his colleagues.
13. In finding the Registrant’s fitness to practice impaired on both the personal and public components, the Panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months. It added that any future reviewing panel might be assisted by, amongst other matters, the following;
a)    A reflective piece addressing the Registrant’s insight in the relation to boundaries of his scope of practice, boundaries of his working in partnership with colleagues and working within a team setting;
b)    Evidence of CPD to maintain his knowledge and skills as a Biomedical Scientist;
c)     References or testimonials from people who are aware of the allegations in this case during the period of his suspension.
14. About 3 weeks after imposition of the Suspension Order, on the 5 December 2020 the Registrant set up a GoFundMe page online seeking to raise funds for himself and claiming that he had been forced to resigned from the NHS ‘’due to a toxic environment as a result of his race’’.
Decision     
1.      The Panel heard the submission of Mr D. that the fitness to practise of the Registrant remains impaired. He contended that there was little evidence that the Registrant had kept his relevant clinical skills up to date. The CPD points that the Registrant had accumulated were, Mr D. added, relevant but not specific to the Registrant’s role as a Biomedical Scientist. The fact that the Registrant, in his evidence, continued to state that his Master’s degree was relevant in this context was, according to Mr D., not particularly helpful.
2.      In relation to the Registrant’s sexual misconduct, Mr D. submitted that the fact that the Registrant had completed a CPD courses was not especially relevant in relation to the question of remediation. Although, in his reflective piece, the Registrant made reference to the steps he had taken to address his failings in this area, Mr D. submitted that the issues were not directly related to the Registrant’s breach of professional boundaries.
3.     In the context of the question of the Registrant’s insight, Mr D. stressed that there was a significant lack in this area. This was exemplified by the Registrant’s advertising for funds online and untruthfully referring to the fact that he was forced to resign from the NHS. The Registrant had very little understanding even now of the detrimental impact of his failings.
4.     The Registrant gave evidence and produced a number of supporting documents. These included CPD certificates, references, his reflective piece and a witness statement which he referred to as being truthful. He claimed that he had learned his lesson, that he now understood the impact of his behaviour, that his clinical competence was now not in doubt and that he was keen and ready to return to his profession without restrictions.
5.     In considering this evidence and the submissions from both sides, the Panel is aware that the process is one of review and not one of appeal and its function is to determine whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired and, if so, what the appropriate and proportionate sanction, if any, should be, so as to protect the public and safeguard the public interest.
6.     The Panel is in no doubt that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. He has shown little understanding of the impact of his actions on his former colleagues and the wider profession. As an example, in relation to particular 1, his answers in evidence to questions as to how he thought his treatment of Colleague 1 had been wholly inadequate. He said he ‘’pitied’’ her. Additionally, he said in evidence that the GoFundMe page was created because of the impact the hearing had had upon him and his family. There was no reference to the fact that a number of serious allegations had been proved against him.
7.     The Registrant, in the view of the Panel, has been unable to articulate how he was, in his current role as an employee of a Covid task force, maintaining the necessary professional boundaries. Nor he was able to persuade the Panel that he could do so in a Biomedical Scientist’s setting.
8.     The Registrant was unable to persuade the Panel how his lack of competency had impacted patients and the wider public.
9.     The Registrant has not taken the relevant CPD courses and has failed to address the requirements of the substantive panel hearing.
10. As far as the testimonials are concerned, the authors of them do not state that they have been told about the particulars of the facts found proved against the Registrant - this despite the previous panel’s recommendation that this should happen.
11. The Registrant has demonstrated very limited insight into his failings and the Panel consequently considers that there is a real risk of repetition.  
12. For all these reasons the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
13. In deciding what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel referred to the HCPTS Sanctions Policy (March 2019).
14. The Panel first considered taking no further action, mediation or imposition of a Caution Order, but concluded that these were inappropriate due to the serious nature of the findings.
15. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be workable. The Registrant has shown limited insight, there has been a lack of remorse, his CPD courses have not been particularly relevant and he has not worked as a Biomedical Scientist for a considerable period of time.
16. The Registrant, however, has been making some attempts to remedy matters and he has undoubtedly engaged with the regulatory process. As such, the imposition of a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate.
17. The decision of the Panel is that a continuation of the current Suspension Order for a period of a further 12 months would be appropriate and proportionate for all the reasons stated above.
18. The Panel suggests that the next reviewing panel would be assisted by the following;
  1. A reflective piece addressing the deficiencies in the Registrant’s practice, specifically in relation to breaching professional boundaries with colleagues and an understanding of the impact of his behaviour on his colleagues, service users and the wider profession;
  2. Evidence of training and/or courses undertaken to address the concerns regarding maintaining appropriate professional relationships and boundaries;
  3. Evidence of CPD which relates directly to maintaining and developing his knowledge and skills as a Biomedical Scientist;
  4. Relevant references or testimonials from people from whom the Registrant may be working in paid or unpaid employment, or from other people of good standing who state that they are aware of the allegations in this case and can comment on the Registrant’s conduct in this regard during the period of suspension;
  5. The Registrant’s attendance, in person or remotely, at the review hearing to assist the reviewing panel in relation to his insight.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to suspend the name of Mr Collins Esona from the Register for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order comes into effect.

Notes

This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 17 December 2022.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Collins Esona

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/11/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
09/11/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
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