Miss Jemma J Taylor

Profession: Paramedic

Registration Number: PA44406

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 10/01/2022 End: 17:00 10/01/2022

Location: Virtual hearing - Video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

‘Whilst registered as a Paramedic with the Health and Care Professions Council, on or around 12 July 2018, you:

1) Took Patient 1’s codeine tablet(s);

a) for your own personal use

b) without their consent.

2) Consumed Patient 1’s codeine tablet(s) whilst attending to them.

3) Your conduct at particular 1b) above was dishonest.

4) The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 3 constitute misconduct.

5) By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.’

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. The Panel has been convened to undertake a review under Article 30(1) of the Health Professions Order 2001 of a substantive order of suspension that was imposed following a final hearing.
2. At the commencement of the hearing the parties applied for a direction that any mention of the Registrant’s private life should be given in a private session of the hearing. The Panel acceded to this application.

Background

3. The incident underpinning the HCPC’s allegation against the Registrant occurred on 12 July 2018. At that time the Registrant was employed by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (“the Trust”) as a Newly Qualified Paramedic. The Registrant had been admitted to the Paramedic part of the HCPC Register approximately six months earlier on 16 January 2018, although the Registrant had been employed by the Trust before she was registered as a Paramedic since 11 July 2011.
4. On 12 July 2018 the Registrant was working on an ambulance with a Senior Emergency Technician. They were called to back up a Paramedic Practitioner who had attended an elderly female patient who was at home and experiencing mobility problems. The attendance at the patient’s home lasted for a period of between one and two hours, during which time the patient was assessed, enquiries were made about alternative care arrangements for the patient, food was prepared for the patient and her soiled clothing was washed. With the permission of the patient a search of the property was made for medication and the print-out of an ECG that had been performed on an earlier occasion. The colleague who was working with the Registrant that day discovered the patient’s medication in a kitchen cupboard.
5. Subsequent to the discovery of the patient’s medication, the Registrant, who was experiencing tooth ache that day, was seen to take the medication that proved to be the Codeine referred to in the HCPC’s allegation. The Trust suspended the Registrant on 15 July 2018, and on 21 July 2018 the Registrant referred herself to the HCPC.
6. The final hearing of the HCPC’s allegation against the Registrant commenced on 1 March 2021 and after three days was adjourned part heard until early April 2021. The hearing concluded on 9 April 2021. At the commencement of the hearing the Registrant admitted that she had taken the Codeine for her personal use and consumed it (particulars 1(a) and 2). She disputed, however, that she had taken the Codeine without the patient’s consent and that her actions were dishonest. At the hearing the Registrant advanced a case that she had the prior consent of the patient to using her Codeine. The final hearing panel accepted the HCPC’s case that there had been no prior consent to the use of the patient’s medication and rejected the Registrant’s evidence to that effect. The final hearing panel also found that the Registrant’s actions were dishonest.
7. After listing the HCPC Standards that had been breached by the Registrant, the final hearing panel said this in paragraph 56 of its written determination as to why it found the proven matters amounted to misconduct:
“In taking medication belonging to the Patient without her consent, the Registrant broke the trust of an elderly service user with limited physical mobility who permitted the Registrant to enter her home for the purposes of attending to the Patient’s medical needs. In view of those matters, the failures to comply with professional standards as set out above and in all the circumstances, the Registrant’s conduct was deplorable, serious, and constituted misconduct.”
8. When the final hearing panel addressed the issue of current impairment of fitness to practise, it said this in paragraphs 68 and 69 of its written determination:
“[The Registrant’s] evidence as a whole displayed a failure to accept responsibility for her misconduct, with an unwarranted shifting of blame onto others, particularly [her Senior Emergency Technician colleague]. Her reflections were overly self-focused and did not recognise the breach of trust which she committed by taking the Patient’s medication without her consent.
“Although the Registrant asserted that she would never take a Patient’s medication again, the Panel was not convinced by that assurance. In sum, her attitude of continuing to dismiss the gravest of the allegations against her when she knew they were true, and her attempts to downplay her misconduct by reflecting on only the less serious aspects of her misconduct on the day, led the Panel to conclude that she has shown a serious lack of insight and has not fully remediated her misconduct, with the result that there remains a risk of repetition of the misconduct.”
And in paragraph 72 of the determination this was stated:
“In the circumstances and in view of the risk of repetition of her misconduct, the Panel considered that by her actions the Registrant has brought the Paramedic profession into disrepute and is liable to do so again. She has breached fundamental tenets of the profession (Standard 2 of the Standard of Proficiency for Paramedics and paragraphs 1 and 9.1 of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics) and is liable to do so in the future. She has also acted dishonestly and is liable to act dishonestly again.”
9. When the final hearing panel considered the issue of sanction it stated that a striking off order would be unnecessary and disproportionate. It concluded that a suspension order was the appropriate outcome on the basis that such an order would provide the necessary protection to the public and would serve to maintain a proper degree of public confidence in the Paramedic profession and the regulation of it. In deciding on the appropriate length of the suspension order, nine months was ordered. It was stated that a longer period was not necessary and that such a period would give the Registrant an opportunity to demonstrate at a future review hearing that she was fit to practise.
10. As the suspension order was imposed on 9 April 2021 but did not come into effect for the appeal period of 28 days, it is due to expire on 7 February 2022.

Submissions of the parties

11. The Presenting Officer’s submissions included a very clear and concise summary of the background to the case. He acknowledged that the testimonials submitted by the Registrant all spoke highly of the Registrant’s character and work ethic. He also acknowledged the impressive CPD portfolio. Furthermore, he accepted that the Registrant’s statement of reflection submitted for the present hearing demonstrated a degree of insight because it acknowledged the error of continuing to work when not well, also the inappropriateness of taking medication at work and continuing to work having taken it. However, he submitted that the HCPC’s stance was that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was still impaired because the documents submitted on behalf of the Registrant did not demonstrate an unqualified acceptance that she had not been given prior permission by the patient to use her medication or that she had acted dishonestly in taking it without that permission. As it was the HCPC’s case that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was still impaired, the Presenting Officer submitted that a further short period of suspension should be ordered in order to give the Registrant an opportunity to directly address the issue of dishonesty.
12. The Registrant did not give evidence before the Panel. Submissions were made by Ms Adeyemi on her behalf and reliance was placed on the 78-page bundle of documents submitted on behalf of the Registrant. It was submitted on behalf of the Registrant that no further order was required upon the expiry of the current period of suspension. It was submitted that the Registrant did not challenge the final hearing panel’s conclusion that she did not have the prior consent of the patient to use the medication or that her actions were dishonest. It was also submitted that she accepted the seriousness of her actions. In view of the testimonials demonstrating her proficiency as a Paramedic and the evidence of CPD undertaken, it was submitted that no further sanction would be required upon the expiry of the present period of suspension.

Decision

13. The decision on this review requires an acceptance of the findings of the final hearing panel on the facts and that also the proven facts amount to misconduct. The task for a reviewing panel is to decide if that past misconduct is still impairing a registrant’s fitness to practise. In reaching the decision, the two areas of personal and public component of impairment must be considered. If the conclusion of a reviewing panel is that there is no continuing impairment of fitness to practise, then there will be no further sanction imposed on the review. If, however, there is continuing impairment of fitness to practise, then the reviewing panel must decide what, if any, sanction should be imposed. That sanction decision is one to be made in accordance with the ordinary sanction considerations. The powers available to the reviewing panel are all the powers that were available to the final hearing panel. In this particular case this means that whole sanction range including striking off is available because the finding was one of misconduct. The present Panel confirms they have applied these principles in conducting this review.
14. The Panel carefully considered the documents submitted by the Registrant and the submission of the parties. In relation to the Registrant’s case, the Panel came to the following conclusions:
• The testimonials submitted by the Registrant were very impressive.
• The CPD portfolio was also very full and impressive.
• The Registrant’s reflective statement was impressive with regard to those matters it did deal with. It included an acknowledgement of the effect on patients, colleagues and her profession.
• What the reflective statement did not include, however, was the direct acceptance of the behaviour found against her at the final hearing, though it is only right to acknowledge that the Registrant has not sought to dispute or challenge the final hearing panel’s conclusion.
15. The Panel therefore had to decide if this Registrant, a person who is undoubtedly someone who is capable of practising competently as a Paramedic and who is seriously committed to resuming her career as a Paramedic, should again be declared to have impaired fitness to practise.
16. So far as the personal component of impairment of fitness to practice is concerned, in the judgement of the Panel that narrowed down to whether the absence of an explicit and full acknowledgement of the basis of the findings against her meant that there was a continuing risk that she would behave in a similar way in the future. In reaching a decision on this important matter, the Panel acknowledged that the HCPTS Practice Note on the topic advises that an important factor will be the registrant’s insight into the relevant acts or omissions, including an understanding as to how and why it occurred.
17. The Panel took the view that it could not be said that in all cases a lack of acceptance of the full circumstances of the breaches that had occurred equated to a lack of insight. However, the absence of such a full acceptance might well lead to a conclusion that any assertion that there would not be a repetition would be of limited value. After considering this issue very carefully, the Panel asked itself the question whether at the present time, after the period of suspension imposed and the reflections she had made, it considered that this Registrant presented an appreciable risk of repeating conduct of the type that had been found against her. The answer to that question was that she did not. It followed that the Panel concluded that it would not be appropriate to make a finding of personal component impairment of fitness to practise.
18. So far as the public component of fitness to practise is concerned, the Panel concluded that in the absence of a risk of repetition, a suspension for a period of 9 months sufficiently served the purposes of declaring and upholding proper professional standards and maintaining public confidence in the Paramedic profession and the regulation of it.
19. For all these reasons the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired. It follows that no further sanction is required upon the expiry of the current period of suspension. For the avoidance of doubt, the Panel does not order the immediate termination of the current order as the length of it was a consideration in satisfying the public component of the impairment consideration.

Order


ORDER: The Registrar is directed to allow the current Suspension Order against the registration of Ms Jemma Taylor to lapse upon its expiry, namely 7 February 2022.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Jemma J Taylor

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
10/01/2022 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
06/04/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
01/03/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard