Mr Thomas Kinnaird
During the course of your practice as a Paramedic employed by North East
Ambulance Service, you:
1. On 11 January 2014, urinated in a Trust vehicle whilst on duty and responsible for the care of a patient.
2. The matter described in paragraph 1 constitutes misconduct.
3. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. On 09 July 2014 at South East Northumberland Magistrates' Court, you were convicted of driving a motor vehicle whilst over the drink-drive limit.
2. You did not declare your conviction described in paragraph 1 to the Health and Care Professions Council until 30 July 2015.
3. The matters described in paragraph 2 constitute misconduct.
4. By reason of your conviction described in paragraph 1 and/or your misconduct, your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired
1. Mr Kewley and Mr Elton invited the Panel to consider whether part of the hearing should be heard in private to protect the Registrant’s private life. Mr Elton submitted that the whole of the Registrant’s evidence should be heard in private because the majority of his evidence concerned sensitive matters relating to his health and family circumstances. He submitted that it would not be possible to predict whether the Registrant would refer to those personal circumstances when he answered any question.
2. The Panel applied the guidance in the HCPC Practice Note “Conducting Hearings in Private” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel decided that part of the hearing should be heard in private to protect the private life of the Registrant. The Panel decided that it was appropriate for the whole of the Registrant’s evidence to be heard in private because it would not be practicable to go in and out of public session.
3. The Registrant is a registered paramedic and was employed by the North East Ambulance Service (“NEAS”). He worked the night shift 10 January 2014 to 11 January 2014 with a colleague JR. At approximately 1.20 a.m. on 11 January 2014 the Registrant and JR were called to attend a 45 year old man who was complaining of chest pains and had been drinking. A decision was made to take the man to hospital. The Registrant remained in the back of the ambulance with the patient and JR drove the ambulance. JR reported that on the way to hospital he observed the Registrant urinating into a vomit bag. JR further reported that on arrival at hospital he noticed that the Registrant had disposed of the vomit bag into the waste bin. JR reported the matter to NEAS management later that day, 11 January 2014.
4. A closed circuit television camera (CCTV) was fitted to the ambulance driven by JR on 11 January 2014. DE, a Risk Officer at NEAS obtained the relevant CCTV footage on 15 January 2014. He obtained a series of still images with the patient’s face erased.
5. On 21 June 2014 the Registrant was stopped by the Police and provided a positive roadside specimen of breath, namely 95 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. He was transported to Bedlington Police station where a further specimen of breath was provided; the lower of two readings was recorded as 101 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mg in 100 ml of breath.
6. The Registrant attended Northumberland Magistrates Court on 9 July 2014 and pleaded guilty to driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. He was ordered to pay a fine of £183 and was disqualified from obtaining a driving licence for 24 months.
7. On 30 July 2015 when the Registrant was due to re-register with the HCPC and he provided a character declaration as part of the renewal process. He made a declaration of his 9 July 2014 conviction as part of this character declaration.
Decision on Facts
8. The Panel read the witness statements of JR, DE and an HCPC Case Manager. The HCPC witness statements were agreed by the Registrant. The Panel read the HCPC exhibits bundle.
9. The Panel heard evidence from the Registrant who gave a frank account of the events, his personal circumstances and the remedial action he has taken.
10. The Panel read the Registrant’s bundle of documents and an additional testimonial.
11. The Panel found that particular 1 is proved by the Registrant’s admission, the witness statements of JR and DE, the Registrant’s evidence and the documentary evidence.
12. The Panel found that particular 1 is proved by the Registrant’s admission and by the certified memorandum of conviction from the South East Northumberland Magistrates Court dated 9 July 2014.
13. The Panel found that particular 2 is proved by the Registrant’s admission, the Registrant’s evidence, the witness statement of an HCPC Case Manager, and the documentary evidence.
Decision on Grounds
14. The question of whether the proven facts constitute misconduct or a lack of competence is for the judgment of the Panel and there is no burden or standard of proof.
15. There is no statutory definition of misconduct, but the Panel had regard to the guidance of Lord Clyde in Roylance v GMC (No2)  1 AC 311: “Misconduct is a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances. The standard of propriety may often be found by reference to the rules and standards ordinarily required to be followed by a …practitioner in the particular circumstances”. The conduct must be serious in that it falls well below the required standards. In Nandi v GMC  EWHC 2317 Collins J stated “The adjective “serious” must be given its proper weight, and in other contexts there has been reference to conduct which would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners”.
16. The Panel decided that the Registrant’s conviction and failure to declare his conviction until 30 July 2015 was sufficiently serious to constitute misconduct. His conduct fell well below the standards expected of a paramedic.
17. The Registrant was almost three times over the limit for driving. As a paramedic he was fully aware of the seriousness of the risk that this created for other road users. In his evidence the Registrant acknowledged that he has seen the consequences of drink driving through attending road traffic incidents.
18. The requirement for registrants to inform the HCPC of convictions is very important. It enables the regulator to carry out the necessary checks, such as identifying whether there are any underlying health concerns. The regulator relies on registrants to declare their convictions. If the HCPC is not aware of a conviction this may have serious implications, including for public safety. It was unacceptable for the Registrant to fail to act and declare his conviction before he completed the forms for the renewal of his registration in July 2015.
19. The Registrant was in breach of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics standard 3 “you must keep high standards of personal conduct” and standard 4 “you must provide (to us and any other relevant regulators) any important information about your conduct and competence”.
Decision on Impairment
20. The Panel applied the guidance in the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is impaired” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel considered the Registrant’s fitness to practise at today’s date.
21. The Panel first considered the personal component, which is the Registrant’s current competence and behaviour.
22. The Registrant takes full responsibility for his actions and acknowledges the seriousness of his conviction and his failure to declare his conviction. He demonstrated insight, both in relation to the underlying causes of his behaviour and in relation to the impact of his behaviour on the public and on his profession. The Registrant has reflected on his past behaviour and he genuinely regrets and is ashamed of the way he behaved.
23. The Registrant fully acknowledges that there was an underlying cause for his drink driving conviction relating to his health. Following his conviction the Registrant sought help and completed two lengthy periods of in-patient treatment. The Registrant provided two reports from the hospital which confirm that the Registrant completed his care plan and that there will be continuing support for the Registrant in his recovery. The reports state that there is now no reason to call into question the Registrant’s ability to practise.
24. The Registrant confirmed in his evidence that he is currently well and that he will take action in future to contact his GP and other health services if he does not remain well. He has a network for support.
25. The Registrant is currently working for NHS111 as a Paramedic Clinical Advisor/Clinical Lead. The Registrant provided very positive and supportive testimonials from professionals who currently work with him and have worked with him in the past. The Registrant’s manager describes him as a “kind and incredibly caring individual who has proven himself to be completely reliable and honest. He works harder than most and cares more than most”. The testimonials state that the Registrant is a well-regarded professional who is conscientious in his current role. He has been open with colleagues about his past behaviour and personal difficulties.
26. The Registrant has taken appropriate steps to reflect on his past behaviour and to remedy the underlying causes of it. The evidence confirms that he will seek medical help if required. The Panel found that the risk of repetition of similar misconduct is minimal.
27. Considering the personal component, the Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired.
28. The Panel next considered the wider public policy considerations including the need to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour and to maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. An informed member of the public would recognise that the Registrant has taken steps to remedy his past misconduct and that he has demonstrated insight and this would provide reassurance that there are no ongoing patient safety concerns. Nevertheless, this is a case where patient safety is not the primary issue. It concerns the need for paramedics to maintain high standards of behaviour in their private lives and to inform their regulator of any convictions. The Panel has an important role in maintaining and reinforcing these standards of conduct, which are fundamental for paramedics. The Panel’s view was that a decision that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is not impaired would not uphold the standards and would therefore undermine confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.
29. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the basis of the public component.
Decision on Sanction:
30. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and applied the guidance in the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP). The purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant, though it may have that effect. In this case there are no public safety concerns. In determining sanction the Panel must give appropriate weight to the wider public interest, particularly the considerations identified by the Panel at paragraph 32 of its decision.
31. The Panel identified the following mitigating circumstances:
• the Registrant’s full admissions;
• the Registrant’s insight and remorse;
• an isolated incident
• the Registrant’s remedial action;
• no risk of repetition;
• the Registrant’s good character prior to the events;
• the Registrant’s health and personal circumstances at the time of the events;
• the very positive and supportive testimonials.
32. The Panel agreed with Mr Elton’s submission that the positive references and testimonials indicate that the Registrant is an asset to the profession and that it is in the public interest that a practitioner who is safe and well equipped to continue to provide care to patients should be enabled to continue to practise.
33. The Panel considered the sanctions in ascending order of severity. It is an option for the Panel to impose no sanction. This is confirmed in paragraph 9 of the ISP which states “this is likely to be an exceptional outcome but, for example, may be appropriate in cases where a finding of impairment has been reached on the wider public interest grounds identified above but where the registrant has insight, has already taken remedial action and there is no risk of repetition”.
34. The Panel decided that this is a case where the exceptional outcome of imposing no sanction is both sufficient and proportionate. All the factors mentioned in the guidance are present. Taking no action is sufficient in this case because the Panel’s finding that current fitness to practise is impaired is a clear declaration of the required standards. The most important factor within the Panel’s decision on current impairment is the need to uphold standards of conduct. The Panel’s decision demonstrates to the public that the significant breach of the standards in this case is unacceptable. In the Panel’s judgment the public decision itself is sufficient to mark the seriousness of the Registrant’s conduct. The exceptional outcome is proportionate, taking into account the mitigating factors.
35. The Panel considered the more serious sanction of a Caution Order, but decided that it was not required to protect the wider public interest the Panel has identified. The public decision is sufficient to mark the Panel’s disapproval of the Registrant’s behaviour. A Caution Order would be disproportionate, taking into account the significant mitigating circumstances in this case.
No information currently available
No notes available
History of Hearings for Mr Thomas Kinnaird
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|30/03/2017||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||No further action|