Mark S Langford
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By reason of your physical and/or mental health, your fitness to practise as an Operating Department Practitioner is impaired as set out in Schedule A.
Proof of Service
1.The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing (hereafter ‘the Notice’) had been emailed to the Registrant on 09 August 2021.
2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
3. The Panel noted that the email to the Registrant confirmed, in accordance with government guidance on containing the Covid-19 pandemic, that the HCPC has decided to suspend all public hearings to protect the health and safety of its registrants and stakeholders. However, to ensure that the HCPC can continue to perform its statutory duties of protecting the public and maintaining the integrity of the register, it arranged for the hearing to be heard remotely via video conference.
4. The Panel noted that the date and time of the hearing was confirmed in the Notice. The Panel was satisfied that the Notice of Hearing had been properly served in accordance with the Health Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003 (as amended) (hereafter ‘the Rules’) and that the Registrant had been given a reasonable opportunity to participate.
Proceeding in absence of the Registrant
5. Ms Welsh, appearing on behalf of the HCPC, made an application for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence, as permitted by Rule 11 of the Rules.
6. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in Absence”.
7. The Panel determined that it was reasonable and in the public interest to proceed with the hearing for the following reasons:
I. the Panel found good service of the Notice;
II. the Panel noted the contents of the HCPC bundle and noted that in addition to the Notice, two further attempts had been made by the HCPC, to engage with the Registrant;
III. there has been no application to adjourn and no indication from the Registrant that he would be willing or able to attend on an alternative date and therefore re-listing the hearing would serve no useful purpose;
IV. the Panel noted that the Registrant had failed to engage in any meaningful way, since 2018. Whilst the Panel recognised that there may some disadvantage to the Registrant in not being able to make oral submissions, the Panel noted that he had been provided with every opportunity to attend and had failed to do so. The Panel therefore formed the view that he had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing;
V. today’s hearing is a mandatory review of a substantive order; and
VI. finally, the Panel noted its duty to act in a manner which was in the public interest and in order to achieve that aim should act in a fair, economical and expeditious manner. Therefore, taking all of the aforementioned points into account and noting that the efficient disposal of cases concerning practitioners is of very real importance, the Panel determined that they should proceed in the absence of the Registrant because the public interest in proceeding with the case outweighed any detriment to the Registrant in not being present.
Application for parts of the hearing to be heard in private
8. Ms Welsh, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that parts of the hearing should be conducted in private, under Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health Professions Council (Health Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 submitting that evidence relating to the Registrant’s health and private life would be provided to the Panel and therefore those matters of the case should be considered in private.
9. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice, which had drawn its attention to the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Conducting Hearings in Private’.
10. The Panel was satisfied, given the matters before it are inextricably liked to the Registrant’s health, there was a need for the entire hearing to be considered in private to protect the Registrant’s private life.
ORDER: The Registrar is directed to suspend the Registration of Mr Langford for a further 12 months from the date of the expiry of the current Order.
This Order will take effect on 7 October 2021 and will be reviewed by the Committee no later than 07 October 2022.