Miss Glenda E Davies

: Paramedic

: PA08314

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 31/07/2017 End: 17:00 01/08/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

Whilst registered as a Paramedic you were convicted on 12 February 2016 at Wimbledon Magistrates Court of:

 

1. On 10 May 2015 at Kingston Road, London, assaulted Person A by beating her Contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

 

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

Finding

Preliminary matters
1. The Panel determined, with the agreement of the parties and having consulted the Legal Assessor, that where it was necessary during the hearing to discuss any evidence relating to health issues, the Panel would go into private session. 

Background
2. The Registrant confirmed that she had been employed by the LAS since 1988 and had qualified as a Paramedic in 1995.  At the time of the events leading to her conviction, she was working on the IC Desk at LAS Waterloo as a Clinical Advisor. 

3. On 10 May 2015, the Registrant contacted LAS and requested an ambulance as her partner (who was identified in this hearing as “Person B”) was unwell and required medical treatment. The events took place outside or near a cafe.  Person A, a female Paramedic, attended the emergency call with her crew mate.  Upon their arrival, the Registrant was verbally abusive towards Person A. whilst they were inside the ambulance, the Registrant pushed Person A causing her bruising.

4. Information provided to the HCPC by the Metropolitan Police indicated that the Registrant appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time and was shouting threats and abuse in the street in the hearing of passers-by. Her behaviour was witnessed by police officers who attended the scene to assist the paramedics.

5. On 15 July 2015, the Registrant appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates Court and pleaded not guilty to the two offences specified in the charges in this matter. She was convicted on the 12 February 2016 and was fined £240, ordered to pay compensation of £100, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20 and ordered to pay the CPS costs of £225.  A Memorandum of the conviction from Wimbledon Magistrates Court appeared in the HCPC bundle.

6. The LAS conducted a disciplinary investigation into the matter and JHE was appointed as the Investigating Officer on 28 July 2015.  

7. The Registrant disputed the accounts of events given by the witnesses and she pleaded not guilty in the proceedings.   

Decision on facts
8. The Panel received a bundle of documentation from the HCPC which included a copy of the Memorandum of Conviction from the Wimbledon Magistrates Court for 12 February 2016, the witness statements of Person A and of the LAS Investigating Officer, JHE.  JHE’s statement exhibited notes of meetings and written accounts of witnesses prepared as part of the LAS investigation. The Panel also received a bundle of documents of 14 pages which was submitted by the Registrant at the hearing.

9. The Panel carefully considered all of the evidence in this case. It noted the submissions of the parties. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

10. The Panel reminded itself that the burden of proving the facts is on the HCPC which brings the charge and that the standard of proof is the civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.

11. Rule 10(1)(d) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”) provides that where the Registrant has been convicted of a criminal offence, a certified copy of a certificate of conviction shall be admissible as proof of that conviction and of the findings of fact upon which it is based. 

12. The Panel had been provided with the Memorandum of Conviction from the Wimbledon Magistrates Court for 12 February 2016 and accordingly found the facts of Particulars 1 and 2 proved.

Decision on grounds
13. The statutory ground contained in Article 22(1)(a)(iii) Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 was made out by virtue of the conviction.

Evidence and submissions on current impairment
14. Ms Parry on behalf of the HCPC submitted that there was no information before the Panel that the Registrant had remediated her conduct. Given the nature of the conduct, it was difficult to remediate. Since the Registrant did not accept the basis upon which she was convicted, there was a lack of evidence of adequate insight. 

15. Ms Parry submitted that the wider public interest required a finding of current impairment in the circumstances of this case and that public confidence would be undermined if such a finding were not made. Ms Parry submitted that the Panel should find that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was currently impaired.

16. The Registrant gave evidence on her own behalf. Whilst she acknowledged that the Panel was not able to go behind the facts of her conviction, she confirmed that she had disputed the information about the circumstances of the offences at the time and that she maintained that position. 

17. The Registrant explained that at this time there had been very stressful and difficult issues involving her partner’s health and also other issues concerning a family member. She denied that she was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident but said she had had one drink at 4am on the morning of the incident.

18. The Registrant said that her partner was under medical treatment prior to these events. She had been the carer for her partner during his illness and she herself had been unwell and had been under the care of her GP.  However, she considered herself currently fit to work.

19. The Registrant said she had not worked as a Paramedic since these events. She had applied for a position as a Paramedic Clinical Advisor with a 111 Urgent Care Service Provider but it was difficult with the HCPC investigation outstanding. The Registrant was keen to return to work as soon as possible was believed she was fit to practise. 

20. The Registrant was asked whether she had kept her clinical skills up to date. She explained she had undertaken some voluntary work at her GP practice assisting with training once or twice a year, having last undertaken this in 2015. She visited homeless people and helped elderly neighbours. She had discussed practice related matters with her partner, who was also a Paramedic, and with her daughter who was a nurse.  She was not able to identify any formal CPD she had undertaken since ceasing practice in 2015. 

21. The Registrant’s submission was that her fitness to practise was not currently impaired.

Decision on impairment 
22. The Panel has considered the submissions of both parties and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.  The Panel has referred to the HCPTS Practice note on Conviction and Caution Allegations dated 22 March 2017.

23. The Panel considered all the information presented at this hearing and exercised its own judgement. It has been mindful that not every finding of a criminal conviction necessarily results in a finding of current impairment of fitness to practise. 

24. The Registrant pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and it was apparent from her evidence to the Panel at this hearing that she still strongly disputes the basis upon which she was convicted. The Panel was concerned that the Registrant has therefore not been able to demonstrate that she has sufficient insight into her past behaviour to satisfy this Panel that there is a low risk of repetition of similar conduct in the future.

25. The Registrant did however state in her answers to questions that she recognised that members of the public would be, in her words, “horrified” that a Paramedic had been convicted of such offences. The Panel noted that the incident took place in a public area, in the presence of other members of the Registrant’s own profession. The Registrant did not appear to recognise at the time, and does not appear to have recognised now, the impact her behaviour was likely to have on Person A, a fellow Paramedic and the victim of the assault, on other ambulance service colleagues and on any public observers.  As a Paramedic herself, the Registrant also did not recognise the adverse impact that her behaviour would have on the efforts of Person A and her colleagues to provide care to Person B.

26. The Panel considers that the conduct in question in this matter, being personal conduct, is not easy to remediate. However, the Registrant has not been able to demonstrate any meaningful attempts at remediation and such efforts she has described to keep her clinical skills up to date in the time since she was last employed as a Paramedic, in 2015, have been informal.  

27. The Panel noted the information in the papers and in the Registrant’s oral evidence as to her difficult personal circumstances at the time of these incidents. This background will be taken into account by the Panel at the next stage of the process. 

28. In all the circumstances, the Panel considers that the wider public interest in upholding proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession and the effective regulation of the Paramedic profession by the HCPC would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in these circumstances.

29. In conclusion, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on sanction
30. The Panel has taken full account of the submissions made by Ms Parry on behalf of the HCPC, the submissions of the Registrant and the mitigation evidence submitted.  The Panel has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

31. Ms Parry confirmed that the Registrant had no previous disciplinary history with the HCPC. 

32. The Panel considered the bundle of supportive testimonials the Registrant had already submitted and an email from Dr NW and a letter from Dr PG MBE, both dated 1 August 2017. Dr PG is an NHS Consultant in Accident & Emergency Medicine and Deputy Medical Director who has known the registrant for 10 years and offered to support her.

33. In reaching its decision, the Panel was aware that the purpose of any sanction is not to be punitive, though it may have a punitive effect. The Panel bore in mind that its primary function at this stage was to protect the public, while reaching a proportionate sanction, taking into account the wider public interest and the interests of the Registrant.

34. The Panel has taken into account the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and applied it to the Registrant’s case on its own facts and circumstances.

Aggravating factors
35. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors in this case:
• The criminal offences took place in a public area
• They concerned verbal and physical assaults upon another member of the profession who was seeking to provide care to Person B
• The Registrant’s continuing failure to accept the findings of a criminal court and her lack of insight into the impact of her offences and the potential risk of repetition

Mitigating factors
36. The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
• The Registrant has 28 years of professional practice with no previous HCPC disciplinary history or criminal convictions
• No issues in relation to the Registrant’s professional practice had been raised;
• The Registrant was experiencing difficult and stressful personal circumstances at the time of the events: she had been supporting other family members and had been a carer for Person B.  She had also had health issues herself.
• There were a number of supportive testimonials from professional colleagues, mostly dating from 2015/2016, but there were two current references submitted for the purpose of the HCPC proceedings. 

37. The Panel took these matters and all the other circumstances of the case into account in deciding on the appropriate action. The Panel considered what sanction, if any, should be applied, considering the sanctions in ascending order of seriousness.

Mediation or No Further Action
38. The Panel did not consider this case was suitable for mediation.  The allegations found proved were too serious for the Panel to take no action. Neither of these options would protect the public nor safeguard the wider public interest.

Caution
39. A Caution Order would be entirely insufficient to mark the seriousness of the Panel’s findings and to protect the wider public interest.

Conditions of Practice Order
40. The Panel concluded that it would not be possible to formulate workable or practicable conditions that would adequately address the issues identified or adequately reflect the wider public interest. There was also the difficulty of formulating appropriate workable or measurable conditions relevant to address the behaviour which led to the criminal conviction or the Registrant’s continuing lack of insight. 

Suspension
41. The Panel was satisfied that there had been a serious breach of the expected standard of behaviour. The Registrant verbally and physically assaulted another ambulance crew member who was attempting to carry out her duties and provide the urgent care required for Person B.  The Registrant’s actions impeded this, caused distress to the ambulance personnel present and, as the incident took place in a public area, risked bringing the Paramedic profession into disrepute and undermining public confidence in the profession. The Panel acknowledges that the Registrant continues to dispute the factual circumstances of the offences, as she has done throughout the history of the matter: the Panel was concerned by her continued refusal to accept the finding of the criminal court and by her lack of insight into the impact of the matter on her colleagues, the public and public confidence in the Paramedic profession.

42. The Panel was mindful of the sentence imposed by the criminal court.  However, in light of this Panel’s responsibility to consider the professional conduct of the Registrant and given the seriousness of her actions and the lack of insight she has shown following the criminal case, the Panel considers a more serious sanction is required.

43. The Panel was minded to consider a striking off order in this case.  However, it has taken account of the prevailing mitigating circumstances at the time of the offences (as set out above) and the Registrant’s long professional history. Taking these into account, the Panel considers that an order for suspension for a period of one year is the appropriate and proportionate sanction.

44. The Panel is mindful of the personal impact this order may have upon the Registrant. However, it is satisfied that this is an appropriate and proportionate sanction in these circumstances. Any lesser sanction would lack a deterrent effect. The need to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process outweighs the impact upon the Registrant. In light of this, the Panel is satisfied that this is the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case.

45. The Panel heard that the Registrant has been out of practice as a Paramedic since these events, for a period of over two years.  The Panel suggests that a future Panel which reviews the Suspension Order in due course would be assisted by the Registrant providing information about the steps undertaken to demonstrate she is fit to return to practise. The Panel suggests, as recommendations to assist the Registrant, that the Registrant takes up the offer of support and assistance offered by Dr PG in his letter of 1 August 2017 (or seeks similar support) and that she refers to the HCPC Return to Practise Guidance in order to develop a suitable portfolio in the light of that guidance.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Glenda E Davies for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 29 August 2017 (the operative date)

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 29 August 2018.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Glenda E Davies

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
31/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended