Mr Stephen Gardiner

: Chiropodist / podiatrist

: Mr Stephen Gardiner

: Restoration

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 07/06/2017 End: 17:00 07/06/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Restored

Allegation

Matter 1:

In the course of your employment as a Chiropodist with A Foot Above Clinic:

 

1.      On 04 October 2010, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the dental treatment which you received on 27 September 2010, in that you:

 

a)     added the figure 2 to the payment receipt;

 

b)     made the cost of the treatment £216.50 instead of £16.50.   

 

2.      On 04 October 2010, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £255 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Z at A Foot Above Clinic on 04 October 2010;

 

b)     forged Z’s signature on the invoice dated 04 October 2010.

 

3.      On 04 October 2010, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of the £255 for your chiropody treatment in that the HPC Registration number “CH20596” on the invoice dated 04 October 2010 belongs to X and not Z.

 

4.      On 22 February 2010, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £160 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Z at A Foot Above Clinic on 20 February 2010;

 

b)     forged Z’s signature on the invoice dated 20 February 2010.

 

5.      On 22 February 2010, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £160 for your chiropody treatment, in that the HPC Registration number “CH20594” on the invoice dated 20 February 2010 belongs to you, not Z.

 

6.      On 30 July 2009, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £250 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Z at A Foot Above Clinic on 30 July 2009;

 

b)     forged Z’s signature on the invoice dated 30 July 2009.

 

7.      On 16 March 2009, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £198 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Z at A Foot Above Clinic on 07 March 2009;

    

b)     forged Z’s signature on the invoice dated 07 March 2009.

 

8.      On 03 October 2007, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £25 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Y at A Foot Above Clinic on 03 October 2007;

 

b)     forged Y’s signature on the invoice dated 03 October 2007.

 

9.      On 03 October 2007, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £25 for your chiropody treatment, in that the HPC Registration number”CH20594” on the invoice dated 03 October 2001 belongs to you, not Y.

 

10. On 12 June 2007, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £25 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

 

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Y at A Foot Above Clinic on 12 June 2007;

 

b)     forged Y’s signature on the invoice dated 12 June 2007.

 

11. On 15 January 2007, you made fraudulent insurance claims for the sum of £25 for your chiropody treatment, in that you:

a)     falsely claimed that you received treatment from Z at A Foot Above Clinic on 12 June 2007;

 

b)     forged Z’s signature on the invoice dated 15 January 2007.

 

12. Your actions set out in paragraphs 1 - 11 were dishonest.

 

13. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 12, constitute misconduct.

 

14. By reason of that misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Matter 2, as amended:

During the course of your practise as a Podiatrist,  you were instructed by solicitors acting for an insurance company to produce a medical legal report in a civil case and, in your report dated 16 February 2010;
 
1. You plagiarised medical legal reports produced by a registered Orthotist CD on 1 May 2009 and
2. The matters set out in 1 above is dishonest


3. The matters set out in 1 and 2 above constitute misconduct

 

4. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired

Finding


1. The matter that has been considered by the Panel is an application made under Article 33 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 for restoration to the HCPC Register. The name of the Applicant, Mr Stephen Gardiner, was struck off the HCPC Register as a result of an Order made by another Panel of this Committee on 18 October 2011.


Background


2. The Applicant qualified as a podiatrist in 2004. By 2007 he was working as a sole trader for the Foot Above Clinic in Ilkeston and Nottingham.


3. Over a period in excess of three years, from 2007 – 2010, the Applicant submitted 8 fraudulent claims to a medical expenses insurer. In doing so, he altered receipts and he forged signatures of other professionals. The total sum of the fraudulent claims was £938, of which £575 was paid. The difference between the two figures represented the applicable excess under the insurance policy. When his claims were queried by the insurance company, the Applicant sought to blame others for their falsity.


4. In considering this application, the Panel has taken account of the relevant contents of the bundles in this case and listened with care to the oral evidence provided by the Applicant and his witness DB.


5. Aware that the Applicant’s clinical abilities have never been called into question, the Panel paid due heed to the character references and the evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) contained within the papers. 


6. In his evidence before the Panel, the Applicant repeated his apologies for the misconduct he admitted in 2011 and declared that he still felt shame for his actions. He has repaid the money he fraudulently obtained and he explained that, at the material time, the business he was running was facing financial difficulties.


7. The Applicant added that he is currently employed as a non-registered Foot Health professional at We Fix Feet (Nottingham) Limited where he has a clinical role.


8. He told the Panel that he wanted to maintain this role, but as an employed Podiatrist, restored to the register. He stressed that he has no health insurance or cash plans and no responsibility for financial matters within his employers practice.  The chances of any repetition of dishonest activity are therefore minimised.


9. The Applicant called DB, a fellow employee of We Fix Feet (Nottingham) Limited, who gave character evidence on the Applicant’s behalf and provided details to the Panel of the business that they each work for.


10. Mr Claughton, in adopting a stance of neutrality to this application, pointed out, on the one hand, that dishonesty was hard to remediate and, on the other, that the Panel should consider what more this Applicant could do to rehabilitate himself. He did, though, add that the Panel might take the view that the Applicant had not given the impression that he fully appreciated that honesty was a fundamental tenet of the profession.


Decision


11. Throughout its deliberations, the Panel remained conscious that the burden of proving he was a fit and proper person to be restored to the Register was on the Applicant and that the applicable standard of proof is the civil one.


12. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and reminded itself of the contents of the HCPTS Practice Note entitled, “Restoration to the Register”.


13. There is no doubt, in the view of the Panel, that the fraud perpetrated by the Applicant was serious. It lasted for a period in excess of three years and involved no less than 8 separate acts of dishonesty. In this context, the Panel associates itself with the words of the previous panel which, in determining the appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose, had the following words to say, ‘no lesser sanction would sufficiently maintain public confidence in the profession, nor would it sufficiently remind other registrants of the paramount importance of ensuring they behave honestly.’


14. Equally, this Panel is persuaded that the Applicant is now remorseful and has insight into his previous misconduct. He has taken remedial steps to lessen his responsibility within the business and thereby reduce the chances of any temptation to repeat any acts of dishonesty. The Panel notes that his misconduct had occurred during a period of financial stress and that the Applicant has said he has no intention to return to running a business in the future.


15. It is plain to the Panel that the Applicant is dedicated to his profession and, as such, has done his best to keep up to date with CPD. The Panel has been impressed by the content of the character references.


16. The Panel has heard no evidence of any misconduct by the Applicant during the intervening period. He has worked satisfactory within the ambit of what he is entitled to do.


17. In all the circumstances, the Panel has determined that the Applicant has learnt his lesson and the test under Article 33(5) has been met. The Panel is satisfied that the Applicant meets the general requirements for registration and now is a fit and proper person to practise Podiatry.


 

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to restore Stephen Gardiner (the Applicant) to the Chiropody/Podiatry Part of the Register.

Notes

Right of Appeal

You may appeal to the appropriate court against the order of the Panel. In this case the appropriate court is the High Court in England and Wales.
Under Articles 33(12), (13) and 38 of The Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 an appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when the attached of this decision is served on you.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Stephen Gardiner

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Restoration Restored