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As a registered Paramedic (PA40241) your fitness to practise is impaired by
reason of misconduct. In that:
1. On 11 August 2019, whilst employed with the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, you:
- a.) Failed to attend work on your rostered shift;
- b.) Provided a dishonest explanation to your employer as to why you
could not attend your rostered shift.
2. On 14 August 2019, in an email to your employer to in relation to your unauthorised absence from work on 11 August 2019, you provided a dishonest account of the reason(s) for your absence.
3. On 17 September 2019 during an interview with your employer, you stated that you had attended and/or spoken to your GP on 16 August (2019) when this was not the case.
4. Your conduct at particulars 1b, 2 and 3 above was dishonest.
5. Your actions at particulars 1, 2, 3 and 4 above constitute misconduct.
6. By reason of misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
Service/Proceeding in Absence
1. The Panel noted that the Registrant was not present, but he was represented. Ms Lake on behalf of the Registrant confirmed that there was no issue with service and the Registrant was aware of the hearing. The Registrant is currently in Australia visiting family and she confirmed that no discourtesy was intended, and the Registrant was content for the matter to proceed today.
2. Ms Sheridan on behalf of the HCPC formally applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence on the basis that he was aware of the hearing and had instructed Ms Lake to attend on his behalf. Miss Sheridan submitted that given the nature of the proceedings it was in the Registrant’s interests and the public interest to proceed today.
3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who advised that Rule 11 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules 2003 provided that the Panel could proceed today if it was satisfied that all reasonable steps had been taken to serve notice on the Registrant.
4. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been served with notice of this hearing in accordance with Rule 3 of the Rules.
5. The Panel reminded itself that whether to proceed in the Registrant's absence is an exercise of its discretion which requires care and caution, having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, and balancing fairness to the Registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public.
6. Given the Registrant's indication via his representative that he had instructed representation, and voluntarily absented himself from this hearing and wished for it to proceed in his absence and bearing in mind the public interest in the expeditious resolution of proceedings, the Panel was satisfied that it was fair, appropriate and proportionate to proceed in the Registrant's absence.
7. The Registrant is a registered band 6 paramedic employed by the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (“the Service”). He works at Fulham Ambulance Station and has been employed by the service since the 14 March 2016.
8. On the 11 August 2019 the Registrant was rostered to work a shift between 18:00 and 06:00 assigned to North Kensington Ambulance Station. At around 14:54 that day the Registrant called the scheduling Team to log in unauthorised absence, with the reason that he had to “take the dog to the vet”. The Registrant did not attend his shift that evening.
9. The Registrant's Clinical Team Manager (“CTM”) had concerns that the Registrant's reasons for the Unauthorised Absence were not genuine as he was aware that the Registrant did not have a dog, had previously tried to swap his shift on the 11 August 2019 and applied for annual leave that date which was refused by the Service.
10. The CTM’s concerns led to an internal investigation into the Registrant during which he admitted to being dishonest in his initial account for the Unauthorised Absence. The Registrant later asserted that he was struggling with his health and had attended his GP on the 16 August 2019 to ask for advice. He informed both his CTM in a meeting on the 18 August 2019 and the Investigating Officer in an interview on the 17 September 2019 that he had attended his GP on the 16 August 2019. The Registrant now states that he missed the shift to try to catch up on an assignment due for his Masters and that he was initially dishonest partly due to struggles with his health at the time.
11. Following the outcome of the internal investigation by the Service, the Registrant self-referred to the HCPC on the 6 February 2020.
12. The HCPC contacted the Registrant's GP surgery who informed them, via a letter dated 28 October 2020, that they had no record of the Registrant attending or speaking to a GP on 16 August 2019.
13. The Panel heard submissions from Ms Sheridan on behalf of the HCPC who referred the Panel to the skeleton argument of Kingsley Napley LLP on behalf of the HCPC dated 10 February 2022.
14. In its skeleton argument, the HCPC asked the Panel to exercise its discretion to dispose of the matter by way of consent for the reasons outlined below.
15. The HCPC submitted that disposing of the matter by way of consent would be a fairer method of concluding it, as the Registrant has admitted the substance of the allegation and that his fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his misconduct.
16. The HCPC proposed that the Panel impose a Caution Order on the Registrant for a period of three years with effect from the date of the hearing. This order was agreed between the parties and is the subject of a Consent Order that was now being placed before the Panel.
17. To address whether the proposed consensual determination would secure the appropriate level of public protection, on behalf of the HCPC it was submitted that the Registrant has also demonstrated insight by fully reflecting on his previous failings and had supplied positive testimonials that refer to this behaviour being out of character. The Panel was informed that the Registrant has continued to work for the same service with no further concerns. Ms Sheridan also drew the Panel’s attention to the statement from JR which set out that the Registrant had been a “model employee”.
18. It was further submitted that the nature of the dishonesty in this case was at the lower end of the spectrum and if the case were to proceed to a final contested hearing a Caution Order was a potentially realistic and likely outcome and a suspension order would be disproportionate.
19. It was further submitted that the Caution Order for 3 years is sufficient to mark the seriousness of the misconduct and protect public confidence in the profession.
20. Ms Lake on behalf of the Registrant confirmed that to the best of her knowledge there had been no further concerns and the Registrant had continued to work for his employer.
21. The Panel read the bundle of documents placed before it, including the skeleton argument, the Registrant's completed consensual disposal request pro-forma and the draft Consent Order bundle agreed between the parties. The Panel also had sight of the Registrant’s testimonials. The Panel had regard to the submission of both parties.
22. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. She referred the Panel to the Practice Note of the HCPC in relation to Disposal of Cases by Consent. She advised that that a Panel should not agree to resolve a case by consent unless it is satisfied that:
a) the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and
b) doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.
23. The Panel was mindful that the task before it today was to determine whether to conclude the case on an expedited basis upon the terms of the draft Consent Order put before it or reject that proposal and set the case down for a full, contested hearing.
24. The Panel determined that the proposed agreed Caution Order would secure the appropriate level of public protection. Although dishonesty is often difficult to remediate the Panel was satisfied that although serious, the Registrant’s actions were at the lower end of the spectrum of dishonesty and appeared to be an isolated set of circumstances. It considered the evidence provided by the Registrant that supported the submission that he had demonstrated insight by reflecting on his previous failings and by his apologies and remorse. The Panel was reassured that despite some years having elapsed since the events in question, there is no suggestion of any repetition of the Registrant’s previous misconduct.
25. The Panel took into account that the Registrant had continued to work for his current employer with no repetition of any concerns. The Panel noted that the Registrant had been described as a “model employee”. The Panel had regard to the positive references and although they were not as up to date as it would have liked, nevertheless, it was satisfied that they demonstrated that the conduct was out of character. In all the circumstances the Panel concluded there was a low risk of the Registrant repeating his misconduct.
26. The Panel further determined that to dispose of the case by way of consent as proposed would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. It concluded that the wider public interest is sufficiently protected by the Registrant being the subject of a Caution Order for a period of three years. The Panel was mindful that a Caution Order does not restrict the Registrant’s practice, but it is published for the period that it is in force and the Panel considered this will serve to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence. In addition, should there be any further fitness to practice concerns arising during this period then the Caution Order will be taken into consideration when deciding what further action is appropriate.
27. The Panel considered that in the event this case were to proceed to a final contested hearing, a Caution Order was a potentially realistic outcome in light of all the circumstances. The Panel considered that the proposed Caution Order was proportionate in that it adequately protects the public and gives the Registrant an opportunity to continue in practice.
28. In all the circumstances the Panel was satisfied that the Caution Order for a period of 3 years was an appropriate and proportionate disposal of this matter.
That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Daniel Banfield with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of three years from the date this order comes into effect.
The Order imposed today will apply with immediate effect.
Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.
Under Article 29(10) of the Health Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.
History of Hearings for Daniel Banfield
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|14/02/2022||Conduct and Competence Committee||Consent Order Hearing||Caution|