Scott Meredith

Profession: Operating department practitioner

Registration Number: ODP34812

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 30/05/2022 End: 17:00 31/05/2022

Location: Virtual Hearing via Video Conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

As a registered Operating Department Practitioner (ODP34812) your fitness to
practise is impaired by reason of conviction. In that:

1. On or around 15 March 2021 you were convicted at Mid Wales Magistrates’ Court of “On 27/02/2021… drove a motor vehicle… after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your breath, namely 106 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, exceeded the
prescribed limit. Contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.”

2. By reason of your conviction your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

The HCPC applied to amend the allegation to add Mr Meredith's HCPC registration number. Mr Meredith did not object and the Panel was satisfied there was no possible prejudice to the Registrant and so the Panel allowed the change to be made.

Background

1. Mr Meredith is an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP). On 27 February 2021 he was arrested for drink driving, having collided with two parked cars at about 11.30 pm on his way home from a friend's house. Mr Meredith was found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in his breath. He was interviewed by the police the following day and in interview he said that he had little recollection of events but was sure that he would not have risked his livelihood and reputation by drink driving. On 5 March 2021 he referred himself to the HCPC and on 15 March 2021 he pleaded guilty at the Magistrates' Court to a single offence of driving with excess alcohol. He was sentenced to a Community Order for 12 months, with a requirement to complete 80 hours of unpaid work. Mr Meredith was also required to pay the victim surcharge of £95 and prosecution costs of £85. He was disqualified from driving for 26 months and his licence endorsed. As is common in drink driving cases, Mr Meredith was offered the opportunity to reduce the disqualification by 26 weeks if by 13 September 2022 he satisfactorily completed a course approved by the Secretary of State.
2. On 26 October 2021 a Panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in relation to the allegation set out above and therefore referred the case to the Conduct and Competence Committee. In his response to the Investigating Committee the Registrant admitted the allegation and as a result the HCPC decided that the case was suitable to be disposed of by consent. Disposing of cases by consent is an effective case management tool which reduces the time taken to deal with cases because a contested hearing is not required. The HCPC and the Registrant invite the Panel to make an order of the type that both agree a Panel would have been likely to impose in any event, if the case had proceeded to a full hearing. In this case, the parties invited the Panel to impose a Caution Order for two years.

Decision


3. The Panel had regard to the helpful written submissions from both the HCPC and the Registrant. The HCPC pointed out that the offence was made more serious because of the high excess alcohol reading and that Mr Meredith initially denied the offence in interview with the police. However, in the words of the Presenting Officer, "thereafter, he did everything right. He pleaded guilty, he self referred, he has no previous convictions or regulatory history and this offence is therefore out of character and a one off. Mr Meredith has provided a reflection piece showing insight and acceptance of impairment on the public component". The Panel agrees with this assessment.
4. The Panel has received written submissions from the Registrant in which he recognises the impact on his reputation and the reputation of the profession and acknowledged that his fitness to practice is currently impaired because of the need to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and in order to maintain public confidence in the profession concerned. In the judgment of the Panel he was right to do so because drink driving with three times the legal limit of alcohol is a serious offence.
5. The Panel has had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on Consent Orders, the Sanctions Guidance and has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel’s task today is to decide whether to accept the proposal of a 2-year caution order set out in the draft consent order or whether to reject it and set the case down for a full hearing before another Panel.
6. The Panel has reminded itself that where a panel finds that a Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the least restrictive sanction that can be applied is a caution order. A caution order is likely to be an appropriate sanction for cases in which:
• the issue is isolated, limited, or relatively minor in nature;
• there is a low risk of repetition;
• the Registrant has shown good insight; and
• the Registrant has undertaken appropriate remediation.
7. A caution order can be imposed for any period between one and five years. It will appear on the Register, but will not restrict a registrant’s ability to practise. An order of this sort may be taken into account if a further allegation is made against the registrant.
8. The Panel is satisfied that the preconditions to dealing with this case by consent are met; an Investigating Committee Panel has found that there is a “case to answer”, so that a proper assessment has been made of the nature, extent and viability of the allegation. The Panel has borne in mind that the Registrant’s insight into, and willingness to address, failings are key elements in the fitness to practise process and that it would be inappropriate to dispose of a case by consent where the Registrant denies liability. The Panel has seen evidence from Mr Meredith and is satisfied that he has admitted the allegation in full and that by undertaking the approved course he has remedied the misconduct that led to his conviction.
9. The Panel had regard to the HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics and decided that Mr Meredith breached standard 9.1; that an ODP must keep high standards of personal conduct. However, the Panel was reassured that the Registrant has taken appropriate steps to address his misconduct; he has completed the community order and unpaid work, paid the financial penalties and passed the driving re-test.
10. Having considered the Sanctions Guidance, the Panel has concluded that a caution order is consistent with the expected outcome if the case was to proceed to a contested hearing because such an order will provide an appropriate level of public protection and would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. The Panel considered the principles of proportionality and whether a caution order was the least restrictive means of achieving the appropriate level of public protection. In order to do so, the Panel considered whether a conditions of practice order was appropriate and concluded that it was not as Mr Meredith's competence as an ODP is not in question and therefore there are no conditions of practice that would be relevant and workable. A suspension order is not necessary or proportionate because Mr Meredith has shown insight and taken remedial action such that the risk of recurrence is low.
11. The panel can impose a caution order for any period between one and five years but is required to take the minimum action necessary to protect the public and public confidence in the profession. This means that the Panel should begin by considering whether a caution order of one year would be sufficient. The Panel should only consider imposing the caution order for a longer period where one year is insufficient. In this case, the Panel is satisfied that two years is the appropriate length of the order because of the high reading.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register entry of Mr Scott Meredith with a caution which is to remain on the Register for a period of 2 years from the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Scott Meredith

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/05/2022 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution