Miss Frances C Collingborn

: Paramedic

: PA08623

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 13/10/2017 End: 17:00 13/10/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

On 13 April 2017 a Panel of the Investigating Committee considered whether the Registrant has a case to answer in respect of the following allegation:

On 2 August 2016 at Dorset Magistrate's Court you were convicted of:

1. driving with excess alcohol contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988

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

Finding

Preliminary matters:

Attendance/representation

 

1.   The Registrant was not present in person and was represented in her absence by Ms Tomlinson of her union, Unison. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant did not wish to attend in person and had instructed Ms Tomlinson to deal with the matter in her absence.

 

Documents

 

2.    The Panel received from the HCPC a Final Hearing Bundle (43 pages), an amended Final Hearing Bundle (37 pages) and from the Registrant, a bundle including a reflective statement, her CV, testimonials and her training record (28 pages).  The Panel also received copies of the Registrant’s response to Notice of Allegations and of the decision of the Investigating Committee Panel. 

 

 

Background:

 

3.   The Registrant has been employed by South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”) since 1992. On the morning of 15 July 2016 the Registrant was stopped by the police and arrested for driving a motor vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit of alcohol, having 73 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.  At the time of her arrest, the Registrant was on her way to work and was in uniform.  At this time, her role at the Trust was as a Specialist Paramedic, a role which she had been working in since 2007.

 

4.   The Registrant appeared at Dorset Magistrates Court on 2 August 2016.  She pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, the offence of driving with excess alcohol contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. She was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £450.00.  She was ordered to pay a victim services surcharge of £45.00 and CPS costs of £85.00.

 

5.       The Registrant referred herself to the HCPC on 2 August 2016. She has made full admissions to the HCPC allegation at an early stage and has engaged fully with the HCPC process.  

 

6.       The Registrant’s reflective statement indicated that her actions which led to her conviction were an isolated incident in a 25 year  unblemished career with the Trust.  At the time she was undergoing personal stress because it was the anniversary of two family bereavements and she was unwell.  She was experiencing difficulty sleeping and drank alcohol in the morning to help her sleep,  but did not allow sufficient time to be fit to drive before driving to her place of work.   As was accepted by the HCPC, there was no evidence of any alcohol related health issue and the evidence was that this was an isolated incident.

 

7.       The Panel was informed that the Registrant was issued with a Final Written Warning for 18 months in March 2017. She remains employed in a different role, working for the Trust’s 111 Service.  The Registrant had, in December 2016,completed the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Course, resulting in her period of disqualification being reduced by 18 weeks.

 

8.       The Registrant had made admissions to the facts, the conviction and that her fitness to practise is currently impaired and had agreed the terms of the proposed Consent Order with the HCPC.  The signed Consent Order was presented to the Panel.

 

Submissions

 

9.         Mrs Wynn on behalf of the HCPC set out the background and referred to the mitigation information submitted on behalf of the Registrant. She submitted that there was no risk of repetition and that in the circumstances, the proposed Consent Order for the imposition of a Caution upon the Registrant’s registration for a period of two years would secure the appropriate level of public protection and would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

 

10.       Ms Tomlinson confirmed she was in agreement with the HCPC’s submissions.

 

Decision

 

11.     The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and applied the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note Disposal of Cases by Consent” and had reference to the HCPTS’ Indicative Sanctions Policy.

 

12.     The Panel was aware that it was not obliged to accept the terms of the Consent Order agreed between the Registrant and the HCPC and that the Panel could reject the Consent Order and direct that the matter proceed to a full hearing.  In that case, the hearing would take place before a different panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee.

 

13.     The Panel noted that neither the HCPC nor the Panel should agree to resolve a case by consent unless they are satisfied that (a) the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and (b), doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

 

14.     The Panel further noted that the HCPC will only consider resolving cases by consent where:

 

 (a) The Investigating Committee had found that there is case to answer;

 (b) The Registrant has admitted the allegation in full;

 (c) Any remedial action agreed between the Registrant and the HCPC is consistent with the expected outcome if the case were to proceed to a contested hearing.

 

15.     The Panel was satisfied that the above factors were met in this case.  The Panel considered that the proposed Consent Order for a Caution Order for a period of 2 years would provide the appropriate level of public protection. The Panel noted this was an isolated incident in a long and unblemished career with no previous fitness to practise concerns. The Panel was impressed by the Registrant’s reflective statement in which she demonstrated her remorse and insight. She had demonstrated how the Drink Drive Awareness Course had helped her understand fully the consequences of her drink driving upon herself and others.  The Panel was satisfied there was little risk of repetition. 

 

16.     The Panel took into account the Registrant’s commitment to her career as a Paramedic.  Her employer had been supportive and she had very positive testimonials from her professional colleagues, including her current line manager in the 111 service.

 

17.     The Panel was of the view that to take no action would be insufficient, given the seriousness of the drink driving offence, and would not address the public interest. In the light of the insight and remorse shown by the Registrant and the minimal risk of repetition, the Panel was satisfied that a Caution Order for 2 years was both the appropriate and proportionate order.  The Panel considered that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be suitable to address the issue in this case. A suspension order would be disproportionate and would remove from practice a committed and capable paramedic. 

 

18.     The Panel carefully considered whether the approval of the Consent Order would be detrimental to the wider public interest and was satisfied that it would not and that the steps taken by the Regulator as set out above are sufficient to maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

 

19.     The Panel therefore agreed to the matter being concluded by means of the imposition of a Caution Order on the Registrant’s registration for a period of two years in accordance with the Consent Order signed by the Registrant and the HCPC on 7th and 5th September 2017 respectively. 

Order

ORDER: That the Registrar is directed to annote the register entry of Frances C Collingborn 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

The order imposed today will apply from 10 November 2017. 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Frances C Collingborn

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
13/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution