Mr John E Shaw

: Paramedic

: PA03463

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:13:00 24/02/2017 End: 17:00 24/02/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

Allegation found proved at final hearing


On 28 October 2014 at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court you were convicted of the following offence:

1. On Thursday 12 June 2014 at Doncaster you drove a motor vehicle on a road after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your blood, namely 265 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, exceeded the prescribed limit.

2. By reason of your conviction as set out in paragraph 1 your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. This is a mandatory review of a Suspension Order that was imposed on 29 February 2016, following a final hearing, under Article 30(1) of the Health & Social Work Professions Order 2001, for a period of 12 months.

Service

2. The Panel is satisfied that a letter notifying the Registrant of the hearing was sent, on the 25 January 2017, to his HCPC registered address and that this amounts to good service.   

Application to proceed in absence of the Registrant

3. The Registrant has not attended at the hearing today.  The Panel first considered whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant and decided to do so for the following reasons, having regard to the Legal Assessor’s advice and the Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant:

(a) The Registrant did not attend the Final Hearing. He has sent an email dated the 29 January 2017 in which he states that he will not be attending this review hearing or sending any representations.

(b) He has not sought an adjournment of today’s hearing.

(c) In the circumstances, the Panel determined that the Registrant has, in effect, deliberately and voluntarily absented himself from the proceedings, in the knowledge that these matters were ongoing.

(d) There is little prospect, if the hearing today was adjourned, that the Registrant would attend on a subsequent occasion. The Panel therefore determined that it was in the interests of justice and in the public interest to proceed, this being the fair and proportionate course of action.


(e) This is a mandatory review, which has to take place before the existing order expires on the 28 March 2017. The Panel has balanced the rights of the Registrant against the public interest, in concluding that it is in the public interest to proceed today.


Background

4. At the final hearing, which took place on the 29 February 2016, the Registrant’s fitness to practice was found to be impaired by reason of conviction, in relation to the proven allegations set out above.

5. The Registrant registered as a Paramedic. On the 12 June 2014, he was found unconscious slumped over the steering wheel of his car. He had first been seen to have stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road and then driven across the carriageway, mounted the kerb and collided with a fence and a lamp post. A later blood test at hospital showed that he had 265 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. When subsequently interviewed by the police, the Registrant confirmed that he had consumed a large quantity of vodka after finishing work and had then gone to bed. He had no recollection of anything further, until he had woken up in hospital. The Registrant later pleaded guilty to an offence of driving with excess alcohol and was disqualified from driving for a period of 2 years. In addition, he was given a Community Service Order (180 hours) and ordered to play the victim surcharge and costs.

6. The Registrant subsequently resigned from his employment with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust where he held a managerial post. On 20 October 2014 the Registrant made a voluntary de-registration request.         

7. At the Final Hearing, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired, having regard to both the personal and public components. They noted that the offence was a serious one, involving an obvious risk to other road users. However, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had “demonstrated real and developing insight into the matter,” with an awareness of the impact of his conviction on his profession. The Panel also noted that he had referred himself to the HCPC. There was also evidence of remorse. The Registrant in his written submissions stated that he had not had an alcoholic drink for over a year and that the offence was a “one off”. There had been no other concerns raised regarding his fitness to practise. The Panel further concluded that an informed member of the public would expect a regulatory body to make a finding of impairment in a case of this severity, and that public confidence would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made.

8. The Panel concluded that the appropriate and proportionate sanction was a 12 month Suspension Order. It took the view that the Registrant was able to resolve or remedy the matters that had led to his offending and there was some information that he had already sought to do this. However, this had not been independently verified. The 12 month Suspension Order would give the Registrant time to reflect on the offence, and to consider what steps he may want to take, if he decided, on reflection to return to his profession.          

9. Prior to this hearing, the Registrant sent an email dated the 29 January 2017. The Registrant states that he is “now back to full health and fully driving”. He states that he has not had an alcoholic drink since 1 November 2014 and nor does he intend to do so. He further says that he has “no interest in pursuing a Paramedic role in the future and I will not be renewing my membership this year. I wish to to voluntary remove my name from the HCPC register with immediate effect.”                    

Decision  

10. The Panel today has taken account of all the written evidence available in the hearing bundle, the representations of Ms Corbett, and the Indicative Sanctions Policy of the HCPC. The Panel also took advice from the Legal Assessor.

11. On behalf of the HCPC it was submitted that the Suspension Order should be extended for a further 6 months to allow the HCPC to explore the possibility voluntary removal.

12. The Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy.   

13. In undertaking this review today, the Panel has reminded itself of the following matters:

(a) A proper exercise of the review process must involve a comprehensive re-consideration of the initial order, in the light of all circumstances, which are before the Panel today. However, it is not the Panel’s role to go behind the previous Panel’s findings.

(b) The Panel in its deliberations applied the principle of proportionality and balanced the rights of the Registrant with the rights of the public.  

(c) The Panel has, under Article 30(1) of the Health & Social Work Professions Order 2001, the power to extend or further extend the Suspension Order, or to make an order which it could have made at the time it made the order being reviewed. This includes the power, with the effect from the expiry of the Suspension Order, to make a Conditions of Practice Order.        

14. The Panel has comprehensively reviewed all of the documentary evidence before it, relating to the period since the imposition of the original Suspension Order and the subsequent review hearings.

15. The Panel notes that that the Registrant has not attended today, and has only provided very limited information about his current position. There is no objective or verifiable evidence to support the Registrant’s contention that he has not consumed alcohol since November 2014, whether in the form of medical evidence, or witness evidence from friends, family or colleagues. There is no evidence as to the Registrant’s current employment situation. In these circumstances, the Panel was forced to conclude that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains currently impaired, having regard to both the personal and public component. The Panel took the view that there remained a collective need to maintain confidence in the profession and as well as declaring and upholding the proper standards of conduct and behaviour which the public expect, and maintaining public confidence in the Paramedic profession.     

16. The Panel has carefully considered what type of order should be imposed, starting with the least restrictive order. It has taken into account the principle of proportionality, and balanced the rights of the public and the rights of the Registrant to practise in his chosen profession. It has concluded that it would not be appropriate to take no action or to impose a caution order in light of the serious concerns that led to the original Panel making findings of conviction proven. Secondly, if the Registrant were allowed to return to unrestricted practice, this would undermine confidence in the regulatory process within the Paramedic profession, given the nature of the offence and lack of verifiable evidence of remediation. 

17. The Panel went onto consider whether to impose a Conditions of Practice Order and concluded that there were no workable and identifiable conditions which could be imposed, given that the Registrant has stated that he does not intend to return to practice as a Paramedic.

18. The Panel next considered a further Suspension Order for a period of 6 months and concluded this was an appropriate sanction, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement and the desire to explore a voluntary removal arrangement.    

19. Having arrived at an appropriate and necessary sanction, the Panel concluded that to impose the more restrictive sanction of a Striking Off Order would be unnecessarily punitive and disproportionate, given that a suitable level of public protection could be obtained from a less restrictive sanction, whilst maintaining public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

Order

No information currently available

Notes

Order: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of John E Shaw for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.


This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 28 September 2017.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr John E Shaw

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
29/02/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended