Mr Ian Wright

: Operating department practitioner

: ODP16614

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 04/12/2017 End: 17:00 07/12/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

Allegation (as amended at Final Hearing):

Between approximately January 2015 and January 2016, whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner, you:

1)   Submitted fraudulent qualification certificates to your employer and/or prospective employer and/or a colleague.

2)   Delivered training on topics for which you submitted fraudulent certificates and so were not properly qualified to deliver.

3)   Published inaccurate and/or misleading information online in that:

a)   In or around December 2015, you published a fraudulent Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care certificate on:

i)     Your Facebook account
ii)    Your LinkedIn account

b)   In or around July 2015 you listed your job title on LinkedIn as Care Manager when you were a Care Supervisor

c) Between February and July 2015 you provided an inaccurate CV to prospective employer(s) in that it stated you had a Certificate in Education from Portsmouth University when you did not

4)    Your actions as described in paragraphs 1 - 3 were dishonest.

5)    The matters as described in paragraphs 1 - 4 constitute misconduct.

6)    By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters

Proof of Service

1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been posted on 18 August 2017 by First Class post, to the address shown for the Registrant on the HCPC register.  The Notice was also sent to the Registrant by email on the same date. The Panel was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct & Competence Committee Rules 2003 (as amended).

Proceeding in Absence

2. Having determined that service of the Notice of Hearing had been properly effected, the Panel went on to consider whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor and followed that advice. The Panel also took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant”.

3. The Panel determined that it was fair, reasonable and in the public interest to proceed in the Registrant’s absence for the following reasons:

a) The Panel noted that a letter, dated 31 July 2017, was sent to the Registrant’s wife (who was communicating with the HCPC on the Registrant’s behalf) in which the HCPC acknowledged receipt of an email from Mrs Wright confirming that neither she nor the Registrant would be attending the hearing. In the same letter the Registrant was put on notice that he could make representations by telephone. There was no specific response to the July letter. However, following receipt of the HCPC papers the Registrant completed a Response Proforma, which was returned to the HCPC on 30 October 2017. In response to the question on the proforma: Do you intend to appear in person at the hearing? the Registrant had written the response ‘No’ and in response to the question: Do you intend to be represented at the hearing? he had written the response ‘No’.  In these circumstances the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance was voluntary and therefore a deliberate waiver of his right to attend.

b) There has been no application to adjourn and no indication from the Registrant that he would be willing or able to attend on an alternative date and therefore re-listing this final hearing would serve no useful purpose.

c) The HCPC has made arrangements for six witnesses to give evidence during the course of the hearing. In the absence of any reason to re-schedule the hearing the Panel was satisfied that the witnesses should not be inconvenienced by an unnecessary delay and should give evidence whilst the events are reasonably fresh in their minds.

d) The Panel recognised that there may be a disadvantage to the Registrant in not being able to respond to the HCPC’s case. However, he was given the opportunity to send documents to the HCPC and was aware of how to contact the HCPC if he wanted to participate in the hearing other than in person. In these circumstances the Panel concluded that any disadvantage to the Registrant was outweighed by the strong public interest in ensuring that the final hearing is commenced and considered expeditiously.

Application to Amend

4. At the outset of the hearing Mr Millin, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application for the Allegation to be amended. The Panel noted that the Registrant had been put on notice of the proposed amendment in a letter, dated 13 July 2017.  The Panel was satisfied that the proposed changes did not materially alter the substance or meaning of the Allegation as originally drafted. The Panel was also satisfied that no injustice would be caused by making these amendments as they more accurately reflected the HCPC case. In forming this view the Panel took into account the fact that the Registrant had been put on notice of the HCPC’s application in advance and had raised no objection at the time or since.

Health Matters

5. The Panel acknowledged that the Registrant’s health is a private matter. To protect the Registrant’s right to a private life the Panel concluded that matters relating to his health should be heard in private and should not form part of the public record.

Background

6. The Registrant is a registered Operating Department Practitioner. It was alleged that in December 2015, the Registrant submitted a certificate for a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care to Eden House Care Home as part of an application for a Trainee Assistant Manager position. Upon enquiry, the training provider and the awarding body named on the certificate stated that the certificate was not genuine.

7. Further investigation by previous employers, allegedly found that the Registrant had also previously presented himself as having an additional 22 qualifications, the certificates for which were also not believed to be genuine.
8. It was further alleged that the Registrant had been delivering training at previous care homes, which he was not qualified to deliver.

Assessment of Live Witnesses

Witness KP – Former Manager of Eden House Care Home

9. Witness KP received an application from the Registrant for the position of Trainee Assistant Manager which resulted in her making various enquiries. She provided the Panel with a clear and compelling account of her interactions with the Registrant, other care homes, Green Cross Training and the adult safeguarding team. Witness KP’s oral evidence was consistent with her written statement and the Panel had no reason to doubt that she was anything other than a credible and reliable witness.

Witness DH – Former Training Development Manager of Green Cross Training Ltd

10. Witness DH first became aware of the Registrant when the Registrant responded to an advert for freelance trainers that had been placed on various social media sites and forums. Witness DH had a good recall of the events that took place and assisted the Panel by providing an insight into the potential serious repercussions to Green Cross’ reputation and the risk that an Ofqual investigation may have resulted in putting people’s jobs and livelihood’s in jeopardy. He informed the Panel that integrity is a key issue, clarified the steps he took and provided reasons for his certainty that the Registrant had been correctly identified. The Panel found Witness DH to be a credible and reliable witness. 

Witness AW – Managing Director of Training Qualifications UK (TQUK)

11. TQUK is an awarding body for a variety of training providers and Witness AW’s role is to oversee the entire operation.  Witness AW was a confident and knowledgeable witness who provided the Panel with a clear and consistent account of his contact with Witness KP and the internal compliance team. He explained the steps that he took to confirm the fraudulent nature of the Level 5 certificate and the potential implications which included the risk that he could lose his job and the detrimental impact on the company. He also assisted the Panel by clarifying the differences between the various qualifications from Level 1 to Level 5. The Panel found Witness AW’s evidence to be credible and reliable. 


Witness AS – Manager of Little Hayes Care Home

12. Witness AS has 30 years’ experience in the care home sector and became aware of the Registrant in the months leading up to February 2015 when she was looking for a trainer. She informed the Panel that the Registrant was recommended to her by Inglefield Nursing Home. The Registrant provided a few courses for Little Hayes and subsequently applied and was appointed as a Care Supervisor. Witness AS helpfully clarified the difference between the role of a Care Supervisor and that of a Care Manager which requires Care Quality Commission registration. The Panel found Witness AS to be an honest and credible witness.

Witness GPM – Former Manager of Inglefield Nursing Home

13. Witness GPM had known the Registrant for approximately nine years. She is the Registrant’s sister in law and had also known the Registrant in a professional capacity when he worked as a Trainer and Nursing Auxiliary at Inglefield Nursing Home. She demonstrated a clear understanding of her professional responsibilities as a nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and those expected of a manager within the Care Quality Council registered care home sector. Despite the potential difficulties in reporting concerns about the Registrant, her brother in law, she demonstrated a clear ability to separate the professional and personal aspects involved. She informed the Panel that the Registrant made no mention of studying for and achieving the Certificate in Education from Portsmouth University in 2013 as he had claimed. She also fairly described him as being a good carer and team member. The Panel found Witness GPM to be a compelling witness and had no reason to doubt her credibility and reliability. 

Witness CW – Former General Manger of Buckland Care

14. Witness CW in her former role as General Manager of Buckland was responsible for overseeing five care homes including Inglefield Nursing Home. She explained that the Registrant was employed by Inglefield as a nursing auxiliary and then as a trainer. The Registrant was subsequently employed as a trainer by Buckland Care and Witness CW explained how her suspicions became aroused with regards to his qualifications and the actions she took as part of her internal investigation. Witness CW provided the Panel with an insight into the consequences and potential risks to both staff and residents as a result of the Registrant having provided training. The Panel found Witness CW to be a credible and reliable witness.

Decision on Facts
Panel’s Approach

15. The Panel was aware that the burden of proving the facts was on the HCPC. The Registrant did not have to prove anything and the individual particulars of the Allegation could only be found proved, if the Panel was satisfied, on the balance of probabilities.

16. The Panel noted that on the Response Proforma the Registrant was asked, ‘Do you admit the facts alleged against you, as set out in the Notice of Allegation…? The Registrant responded, ‘I do not deny these alligations. The Panel proceeded on the basis that the Registrant had not formally admitted the allegations and that his response was an invitation for the Panel to treat his health condition as a defence or mitigation or both.

17. In reaching its decision the Panel took into account the oral evidence from the HCPC witnesses, the documentary evidence including the Registrant’s response on the Response Proforma and the oral submissions made on behalf of the HCPC.

18. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

Particular 1 – Found Proved

‘Between approximately January 2015 and January 2016, whilst registered as an Operating Department Practitioner, you:
Submitted fraudulent qualification certificates to your employer and/or prospective employer and/or a colleague.’

19. Witness KP confirmed in her witness statement and during her oral evidence that on 27 November 2015 the Registrant sent her an email expressing an interest in applying for the post of Trainee Assistant Manager at Eden House Care Home. Witness KP invited the Registrant to attend an interview and complete an application pack. Witness KP informed the Panel that on 17 December 2015 the Registrant emailed her a copy of his Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care. The Panel was provided with a copy of the certificate and noted that it bore the name and logo of Green Cross Training and TQUK. Witness KP stated that having completed a Level 5 qualification herself she was aware that the certificate normally has a holographic background. She stated that the Registrant’s certificate did not have a hologram and the presentation was not of a high quality. She also stated that his CV raised her suspicions because there were ‘lots of qualifications listed’ but there were no dates and no indication of where these courses were completed. Witness KP confirmed during her written and oral evidence that she emailed Witness DH, the Training Development Manager at Green Cross Training on 22 December 2015 and had a number of follow up telephone calls with him.

20. Witness DH stated during his oral evidence that he first became aware of the Registrant around February 2015 when the Registrant responded to an advert for freelance trainers. He informed the Panel that the Registrant provided Green Cross Training with his CV, but as he did not provide any certificates to confirm his qualifications he did not carry out any work for them. Witness DH stated during his written and oral evidence that as soon as Witness KP mentioned that the certificate was a Level 5 qualification he knew that it was not a certificate that his company provides. He informed the Panel that he showed the certificate to the managing director who confirmed that Green Cross Training do not provide that qualification. Witness DH stated that he contacted TQUK and subsequently informed Witness KP that the certificate was fraudulent.

21. Witness AW, the Managing Director at Training Qualifications UK (TQUK), confirmed that he was contacted by Witness KP on 22 December 2016 and asked to check the validity of a certificate which was forwarded to him by email. Witness AW informed the Panel that the certificate was checked against the TQUK logs and as the certificate was not listed he confirmed that it was not genuine.

22. Witness GPM informed the Panel that she received a phone call from Witness KP, around the middle of December 2015, with regards to the Registrant’s Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management. Witness KP informed Witness GPM that the certificate was fraudulent. Witness GPM telephoned Green Cross Training and they confirmed that the certificate was not genuine. As a consequence the Registrant was suspended from delivering further training and Witness CW commenced an internal investigation. Witness GPM stated in her witness statement that she became aware that the Registrant was asked to provide a copy of his Certificate of Education which he was unable to locate. Whilst discussing the matter with Witness CW, Witness GPM recalled that the Registrant had previously sent her a copy of the certificate in January 2015 when he showed an interest in applying for a Staff Nurse role at Inglefield Nursing Home. Witness GPM provided Witness CW with a copy of the Certificate of Education. Witness GPM also informed the Panel during her oral evidence that she had commenced the Level 5 Diploma course at the same time as the Registrant and that it takes approximately one year to complete. She informed the Panel that the Registrant was the manager of Down House Care Home whilst they were on the course but when he left that job he told her that he would have to withdraw from the course as he was no longer in a managerial position.

23. Witness CW confirmed in her written statement and during her oral evidence that she first had concerns about the Registrant when she conducted an audit at Inglefield Nursing Home. She noted that the Registrant’s training certificates were not on file and asked him to provide them. Witness CW informed the Panel that she subsequently received a significant number of certificates from the Registrant which ‘did not seem right’ as they had all been issued within a short period of time. In late 2015 Witness CW became aware that the Registrant had applied for another job and as part of that application had submitted a fraudulent Level 5 certificate. Witness CW conducted an internal investigation and as part of that investigation made contact with Witness DH from Green Cross Training and an employee from TQUK, both of whom stated that the certificate was not authentic. On 19 January 2016 Witness CW contacted Qualsafe Awards (Qualsafe) regarding a number of the Registrant’s certificates that had been issued by Isle of Wight Training Limited. On 27 January 2016 she received confirmation that none of the certificates were authentic and had not been awarded by Qualsafe. She was also informed that some of the qualifications were not offered by Qualsafe. In relation to the Certificate of Education certificate purportedly from Portsmouth University, Witness CW informed the Panel that having emailed the certificate to the university they confirmed that it was not authentic.

24. The Panel also took into account the written statement from Witness CB, a legal assistant at Kingsley Napley Solicitors who was not called to give oral evidence. He confirmed that in response to an email from him the University of Portsmouth confirmed in an email, dated 2 June 2017, that the university did not have a record for the Registrant for the time period on the certificate, that it had not been issued by the university and they do not offer a programme of study matching the course named on the certificate.

25. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was registered as an Operating Department Practitioner between January 2015 and January 2016. The Panel was also satisfied based on the evidence of Witness DH and Witness AW that the Registrant had not obtained the Level 5 Diploma from Green Cross Training and that the certificate had not been awarded by TQUK. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness GPM that when she reviewed the Certificate of Education that had previously been sent to her she noticed that the certificate appeared to be overwritten in that when the document was opened on her computer for a split second the words ‘Certificate of Education’ did not appear and there seemed to be a line running through the words. The Panel also accepted the evidence of Witness CW that she was informed by the University of Portsmouth that the Certificate of Education was not authentic and the formal written confirmation that it was not authentic which was obtained by Witness CB. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Witness CB’s correspondence with the university.

26. The Panel therefore concluded that the Level 5 Diploma certificate and the Certificate of Education that were both sent to Witness KP as part of the Registrant’s employment application were fraudulent.  The Panel also concluded that the fraudulent Certificate of Education had been sent by the Registrant to Witness GPM in January 2015. At that time Witness GPM was not only the Registrant’s sister in law but was also his colleague as she was his line manager at Inglefield Nursing Home.

27. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness CW that whilst employed by Buckland Care as a trainer he provided the organisation with a number of certificates. The Panel was satisfied based on the evidence of Witness CW that the certificates were not issued by Qualsafe and were therefore fraudulent.

28. Accordingly, particular 1 was found proved in its entirety.

Particular 2 – Found Proved

‘Delivered training on topics for which you submitted fraudulent certificates and so were not properly qualified to deliver.’

29. Witness GPM informed the Panel that the Registrant first delivered training at Inglefield Nursing Home from June 2013 to February 2015 through his own external company – Isle of Wight Training Limited. As this was before she became the manager of Inglefield Nursing Home she was unable to confirm what checks had been carried out to confirm his eligibility to undertake this training.

30.  Witness GPM informed the Panel that the training the Registrant provided included mandatory training that is required for staff working in care homes, such as: manual handling; first aid; safeguarding vulnerable adults; infection control; dementia; end of life care as well as non-mandatory training. Witness GPM informed the Panel during her oral evidence that she had attended some of the Registrant’s training sessions. Having personally experienced the Registrant’s training herself, GPM informed the Panel that his training was limited to set slides. He did not appear to have the knowledge and experience and was unable to elaborate when staff asked supplementary questions.

31.   The Panel noted that Inglefield Nursing Home ended the training arrangement with the Registrant in February 2015 because the Registrant had commitments elsewhere and became unreliable. Witness GPM informed the Panel that the Registrant subsequently returned to work for Inglefield Nursing Home as a nursing auxiliary on 5 October 2016 and around November 2015 he was promoted to trainer for Buckland Care.

32. Witness CW informed the Panel in her written statement and during her oral evidence that she was aware that the Registrant had previously provided external training to Inglefield Nursing Home.  She stated that she suggested that the Registrant provided training on a regular basis as part of his role with Buckland Care. The Panel was informed that the Registrant started providing training to staff at the various homes run by Buckland Care including Inglefield Nursing Home. Witness CW confirmed that the Registrant subsequently provided the mandatory courses required to work in the professional care field and spent approximately two days a week in his training role.

31. The Panel was provided with a schedule of the training that was provided by the Registrant during his time as trainer for Buckland Care from October to December 2015, which included fire safety, manual handling, dementia awareness safeguarding and health and safety. The Panel was also provided with copies of the invoices provided by the Registrant.

32. Witness AS confirmed that the Registrant was recommended to her by Inglefield Nursing Home when she was looking for a trainer for the staff at Little Hayes. She was unable to provide the Panel with any records but informed the Panel that the Registrant provided a few courses for staff on topics such as manual handling and infection control.

33. The Panel concluded based on the evidence of Witness CW and Witness AS that the Registrant had delivered training on behalf of Buckland Care and Little Hayes Care Home. The Panel also took into account its findings in relation to particular 1. Having already determined that the numerous certificates purportedly awarded by Qualsafe were fraudulent the Panel went on to conclude that the Registrant was not qualified to deliver the courses that he provided to staff members of Buckland Care and Little Hayes Care Home.

34. Accordingly, particular 2 was found proved.

Particular 3(a)(i) – Found Proved

‘Published inaccurate and/or misleading information online in that:
In or around December 2015, you published a fraudulent Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care certificate on:
Your Facebook account’

35. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness DH who informed the Panel that he reviewed the Registrant’s Facebook account on 22 December 2015. The Panel was provided with a screenshot of the Facebook account and noted that the Registrant had posted a copy of the Level 5 Diploma and above it had typed, ‘Well that’s another one to add to the collection. Was so much easier doing it through these guys.’

36. The Panel was satisfied that fraudulent Level 5 Diploma was published on Facebook on or around December 2015 because it was purported to have been awarded on 7 December 2015 and Witness DH saw it on Facebook on 22 December 2015. The Panel was also satisfied that the information was inaccurate because in accordance with its finding in relation to particular 1 the Registrant had not been issued with the certificate by Green Cross Training and it had not been awarded by TQUK. The Panel concluded that the information posted on Facebook was misleading because it could lead someone to believe that he had been awarded the Level 5 Diploma which was not the case.

37. Accordingly, particular 3(a)(i) was found proved.

Particular 3(a)(ii) – Found Proved

‘Published inaccurate and/or misleading information online in that:
In or around December 2015, you published a fraudulent Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care certificate on:
Your LinkedIn account’
 
38. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness DH who informed the Panel that he reviewed the Registrant’s LinkedIn profile. The Panel was provided with a screenshot of the LinkedIn profile and noted that the Registrant had also posted a copy of the Level 5 Diploma under the ‘Education’ section with the same caption that appeared on his Facebook account.

39. The Panel was satisfied that fraudulent Level 5 Diploma was published on LinkedIn on or around December 2015 because it was purported to have been awarded on 7 December 2015. The Panel was also satisfied that the information was inaccurate because in accordance with its finding in relation to particular 1 the Registrant had not been issued with the certificate by Green Cross Training and it had not been awarded by TQUK. The Panel concluded that the information posted on LinkedIn was misleading because it could lead someone to believe that he had been awarded the Level 5 Diploma which was not the case.

40. Accordingly, particular 3(a)(ii) was found proved.

Particular 3(b) – Found Proved

‘In or around July 2015 you listed your job title on LinkedIn as Care Manager when you were a Care Supervisor’

41. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness AS that she was informed by one of her employees that the Registrant had listed his job title on LinkedIn as ‘Care Manager’ when he was in fact employed by Little Hayes Care Home as a ‘Care Supervisor’. The Panel also accepted her oral evidence that whereas a ‘Care Supervisor’ is responsible for providing care to residents the Care Manager runs the home and has to be registered with the Care Quality Commission. She informed the Panel that she and another colleague asked the Registrant to correct the information which he eventually did.

42. The Panel was provided with a screenshot of the Registrant’s LinkedIn account and was satisfied that he had described himself as a Care Manager. [July 2015}

Particular 3(c) – Found Proved

‘Between February and July 2015 you provided an inaccurate CV to prospective employer(s) in that it stated you had a Certificate in Education from Portsmouth University when you did not’

43. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness AS that she advertised for the position of Care Supervisor at Little Hayes Care Home around February 2015 and that the Registrant applied for the position. The Registrant submitted his application on 16 February. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Registrant’s application and his CV and noted that it included reference to a Certificate of Education from the University of Portsmouth.

44. The Panel took into account its findings in relation to the authenticity of the certificate as set out in particular 1 and based on the evidence of Witness CW and CB concluded that the Registrant’s CV was inaccurate. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had not acquired the qualification as stated on his CV.

45. Accordingly, particular 3(c) was found proved.
Particular 4 – (Dishonesty) – Found Proved

46. Having found particulars 1-3 proved the Panel went on to consider whether the Registrant’s actions were dishonest.

47. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s Proforma Response which was received by the HCPC on 30 October 2017.

48. The Panel noted that the Registrant was able to prepare and deliver a variety of training courses over a significant period of time and either obtained or produced a substantial number of fraudulent certificates which he submitted to various organisations. The Panel acknowledged that the fraudulent certificates were not particularly sophisticated but the Registrant’s actions did require premeditation and a degree of planning.

49. In assessing the issue of dishonesty the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s state of knowledge was as follows:

(a) The Registrant knew that he had not obtained a Level 5 Diploma, that he had not obtained an additional 22 qualifications from Qualsafe and that he had not obtained a Certificate of Education from the University of Portsmouth. Knowing that he did not have these qualifications the Registrant deliberately and consciously either obtained or produced the false certificates in order to give the false impression that he had acquired these qualifications. The Registrant subsequently submitted these fraudulent certificates as part of his employment application for a role as a Trainee Assistant Manager at Eden House and Care Supervisor at Little Hayes, provided the Qualsafe copies during his employment with Inglefield Nursing Home and provided a copy of the Certificate of Education to Witness PGM whilst she was his colleague at Inglefield Nursing Home.

(b) The Registrant remained aware that he had submitted fraudulent certificates when he delivered training courses on behalf of Inglefield Nursing Home, Buckland Care and Little Hayes Care Home. The Registrant could have been in no doubt that because he had submitted fraudulent qualifications he was not qualified to deliver the training on those specific topics.

(c) The Registrant consciously and deliberately published on his Facebook account and LinkedIn profile the Level 5 Diploma for the purposes of enhancing his professional status and/or employment prospects.

(d) The Registrant was well aware that he did not have a Certificate of Education from the University of Portsmouth when he included it in the CV that he sent to Little Hayes Care Home. 

(e) The Panel was also satisfied that, having worked in the care home sector the Registrant knew the distinction between a ‘Care Manager’ and a ‘Care Supervisor’. the Registrant consciously and deliberately referred to his job title at Little Hayes as being ‘Care Manager’ for the purposes of enhancing his professional status and/or employment prospects knowing that it would give the false impression that he was the manager in charge of running the home.

50. The Panel was satisfied that, based on the Registrant’s state of knowledge, honest and reasonable members of the public would consider his actions to be dishonest.

51. For the avoidance of doubt the Panel gave no credence to the Registrant’s suggestion to Witness KP in his email, dated 22 December 2015, that his email and social media accounts may have been hacked. The Registrant made a similar suggestion to Witness DH when he was contacted by Witness DH on LinkedIn. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s suggestion was self-serving and lacked credibility.

52. Accordingly, particular 4 was found proved.
Decision on Grounds
53. In considering the issue of misconduct, the Panel bore in mind the explanation of that term given by the Privy Council in the case of Roylance v GMC (No.2) [2000] 1 AC 311 where it was stated that:

“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 misconduct is qualified in two respects. First, it is qualified by the word ‘professional’ which links the misconduct to the profession ... Secondly, the misconduct is qualified by the word ‘serious’. It is not any professional misconduct which will qualify. The professional misconduct must be serious.”

54. The Panel considered the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and was satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct breached the following standards:

• 1 - You must act in the best interest of service users.

• 3 - You must keep high standards of personal conduct.

• 13 - You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.

55. The Panel was aware that breach of the standards alone does not necessarily constitute misconduct. However, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct and behaviour fell far below the standards expected of a registered practitioner. The Registrant submitted fraudulent certificates to further his own ends and repeatedly and persistently falsely represented himself as being qualified to deliver training in a wide range of courses. The Registrant also dishonestly published the certificates on social media and misrepresented his job title on his CV.  The Registrant’s behaviour cannot be described as a momentary failure or a temporary lapse of judgement. He had ample opportunity to reflect on his behaviour and rectify the situation but chose not to do so.

56. The Panel noted that as a direct consequence of the Registrant’s actions the organisations he provided training for would have incurred financial costs in retraining their staff. Witness CW informed the Panel that Buckland Care had approximately 200 members of staff across four care homes and that on the basis that the training sessions would have a maximum of 10 it would have taken approximately five months for all staff to have been re-trained at a cost of £300-£500 per session at significant costs to the organisations. However, in Witness CW’s view the risk to residents was the greatest concern. The Panel shared this view.  The Panel noted that in addition to the reputational damage that may have been caused to the training companies and individuals the most significant consequence of the Registrant’s actions was the potential risk that staff members were not properly trained which placed both themselves and residents at risk of harm. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s conscious and deliberate acts of dishonestly amounts to serious misconduct as described in the Roylance case.

Decision on Impairment

Panel’s Approach

57. Having found misconduct the Panel went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note: “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

58. In determining current impairment the Panel had regard to the following aspects of the public interest:

• The ‘personal’ component: the current behaviour etc. of the individual registrant; and

• The ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.

Panel Decision

59. The Panel considered the Registrant’s current fitness to practise firstly from the personal perspective and then from the wider public perspective.

60. The Registrant abused his position of trust, demonstrated a persistent lack of judgment and a complete disregard for others including residents, colleagues and the public, choosing instead to put his own interests first.

61. Although there was some engagement during the investigation stage of these proceedings there has been no engagement in the hearing itself from the Registrant. As a consequence there was no evidence before the Panel that he fully appreciates the gravity of his conduct and behaviour and had reflected on the impact of his behaviour on his employers and prospective employers who had a legitimate expectation that the Registrant would be open and honest with regard to his qualifications.  There was also no explanation as to how he would behave differently in the future and no assurance that the deficiencies in his professional conduct have been remedied.

62. The Panel was particularly concerned that the Registrant’s course of conduct continued for an extended period of time and suggests a fundamental failure to understand and take seriously his professional obligation to be trustworthy at all times.

63. The Panel recognised that demonstrating remediation in a case involving dishonesty is particularly difficult, as probity issues are reliant on attitude, which can often only be inferred from conduct.  The Panel noted that the Registrant’s dishonest conduct relates to a discrete set of circumstances, which may have the potential to be remediated, provided that there is evidence of sincere and meaningful reflection that demonstrates that the dishonesty is firmly in the past and is not a deep seated attitudinal trait. However, the Registrant has provided no information that would assist the Panel in this regard. His dishonest conduct demonstrates a conscious and deliberate decision to mislead prospective employers, employers and colleagues and as a consequence of the Registrant’s pattern of behaviour the Panel took the view that in the absence of any insight and any steps he has taken towards remediation the risk of repetition is high.

64. The Panel concluded that for these reasons the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired based on the personal component.

65. In considering the public component the Panel had regard to the important public policy issues which include the need to maintain confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

66. Members of the public would be extremely concerned to learn that a registered healthcare professional working with vulnerable residents had compromised their safety and well-being. Members of the public would also be extremely concerned by the prospect of a healthcare professional securing employment on the basis of fraudulent qualifications. It is critically important that recruitment processes have integrity so that only qualified individuals who meet the required standards are appointed. Accurate application forms and CV’s are a vital part of that process.

67. The Registrant’s conduct not only placed residents at risk of harm, but also brought the profession of Operating Department Practitioner into disrepute, undermined a fundamental tenet of the profession and demonstrated that his integrity could not be relied upon. As a consequence the Panel concluded that public confidence would be significantly undermined if a finding of fitness to practise was not made, given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s conduct.
68. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of both the personal component and the public component and therefore the HCPC’s case is well-founded.

Decision on Sanction

Panel’s Approach

69. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of any sanction is not to punish the Registrant, but to protect the public and the wider public interest. The public interest includes maintaining public confidence in the profession and the HCPC as its regulator and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality by weighing the Registrant’s interests with the public interest and by considering each available sanction in ascending order of severity.
 
70. The Panel had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and took into account the submissions made by Mr Millin, on behalf of the HCPC.

Decision

71. In determining what sanction, if any, to impose the Panel identified the following aggravating factors:

• the conduct was deliberate, planned and premeditated;

• the dishonest behaviour was repeated and persisted for a significant period;

• there was a potential risk of harm to residents and staff and reputational damage to various individuals and organisations;

• there was absence of insight, remorse and remediation.

72. The Panel was unable to identify any mitigating factors, other than the Registrant’s previous unblemished record. The Panel noted that the Registrant is currently in poor health. However, the Registrant’s health issues pre-date and post-date the relevant period. The Panel also noted that Witness GPM in her witness statement and oral evidence commented positively with regards to the Registrant’s care for his patients and his working practices when he worked at Inglefield Nursing Home as a nursing auxiliary. However, as the Allegation did not relate to the Registrant’s clinical practice as an Operating Department Practitioner, and as there was no suggestion that the Registrant was incompetent the Panel found the positive comments, in relation to his work as a nursing auxiliary, of limited importance and did not regard it as mitigating factor. 

73. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel concluded that, in view of the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s repeated dishonesty and in the absence of exceptional circumstances, to take no action on his registration would be wholly inappropriate. Furthermore it would be insufficient to protect the public, maintain public confidence and uphold the reputation of the profession.

74. The Panel went on to consider a Caution Order. The Panel noted paragraph 28 of the ISP which states:

‘A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action…A caution order is unlikely to be appropriate in cases where the registrant lacks insight.’

75. As the Registrant has demonstrated no insight into his misconduct, provided no evidence of remediation and whilst the risk of repetition remains, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would be inappropriate. In any event, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would be insufficient to protect the public and meet the wider public interest given the nature and gravity of the Registrant’s conduct and behaviour.

76. The Panel went on to consider a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel noted that at paragraph 33 the ISP states:

‘Conditions will rarely be effective unless the registrant is genuinely committed to resolving the issues they seek to address and can be trusted to make a determined effort to do so. Therefore, conditions of practice are unlikely to be suitable in cases:

• where the registrant has failed to engage with the fitness to practise process, lacks insight…;

• where there are serious or persistent overall failings; or

• which involve dishonesty, breach of trust..’.

77. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s dishonest actions are not amenable to conditions, as the basis for this type of misconduct is an attitudinal failing. The Panel concluded that it would not be possible to formulate conditions which would be workable, measurable or proportionate. As the Registrant has not engaged with the hearing process the Panel could have no confidence that he would comply with conditions even if appropriate conditions could be formulated. Furthermore, the Panel concluded that conditions would not adequately address the serious nature of the Registrant’s dishonest conduct and so would undermine public confidence in the profession and undermine the need to uphold standards of conduct and behaviour.

78. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. A Suspension Order would re-affirm to the Registrant, the profession and the public the standards expected of a registered health professional. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from practising as an Operating Department Practitioner during the suspension period, which would therefore provide a degree of protection to patients and the public. However, the Panel noted that the Registrant’s dishonest conduct occurred whilst he was employed in a healthcare role which does not require HCPC registration.  In any event, the Panel took the view that given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s repeated and persistent dishonesty a Suspension Order would not be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. It would also not have a deterrent effect on other registrants.  In reaching this conclusion the Panel took into account the Registrant’s non-engagement during the hearing and noted the judgment of Mitting J, in NMC v Parkinson [2010] EWHC 1898 where he stated:

“A [practitioner] found to have acted dishonestly is always going to be at severe risk of having his or her name erased from the register. A [practitioner] who has acted dishonestly, who does not appear before the Panel either personally or by solicitors or counsel to demonstrate remorse, a realisation that the conduct criticised was dishonest, and an undertaking that there will be no repetition, effectively forfeits the small chance of persuading the Panel to adopt a lenient or merciful outcome and to suspend for a period rather than to direct [A Striking Off Order].”

79. The Panel noted that the Registrant has ongoing health issues. However, there was no evidence before the Panel that the Registrant could not participate in these proceedings in some way. The Panel concluded that as a consequence of the Registrant’s non-engagement with the hearing process there was no information available which offered the Panel the opportunity to exercise leniency.

80. Having determined that a Suspension Order does not meet the wider public interest the Panel determined that the Registrant’s name should be removed from the Register.

81. The Panel acknowledged that a Striking Off Order is a sanction of last resort and should be reserved for those category of cases where there is no other means of protecting the public or the wider public interest. The Panel decided that the Registrant’s case falls into this category because of the nature and gravity of his dishonest conduct, his lack of insight and the high risk of repetition. The Registrant’s dishonest conduct was persistent and repeated over a significant period of time and the Panel concluded that any lesser sanction would undermine public trust and confidence, as members of the public are entitled to expect honesty and integrity from registered practitioners at all times.

82. The Panel had regard to the impact a Striking Off Order would have on the Registrant, but concluded that his interests were significantly outweighed by the Panel’s duty to give priority to the significant public interest concerns raised by this case.

83. In these circumstances the Panel decided that the only appropriate and proportionate order is a Striking Off Order.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Ian Wright from the Register on the date this order comes into effect 

Notes

Application for Interim Order

Mr Millin, on behalf of the HCPC, informed the Panel that he intended to make an application for an interim order and as a preliminary matter made an application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Proceeding in Absence

The Panel noted that the Notice of Hearing that was posted to the Registrant on 18 August 2017 specifically drew his attention to the power to impose an interim order to cover any appeal period, in the event that, either a Conditions of Practice Order, a Suspension Order or a Striking Off Order was imposed.
The Panel determined that it was fair, reasonable and in the public interest to proceed in the Registrant’s absence for the following reasons:

e) The Registrant has not engaged with the hearing process.  In these circumstances the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance was voluntary and therefore a deliberate waiver of his right to attend or participate.

f) There is a strong public interest in ensuring that once a substantive decision has been made an application for an interim order should be determined as expeditiously as possible.

Interim Order

The Panel went on to determine that an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, should be imposed on the basis that it is necessary to protect members of the public and is otherwise in the public interest.  The Panel imposed this order as the Registrant’s misconduct raises serious public safety concerns. The Registrant demonstrated for a significant period of time a persistent and repeated desire to place his own needs above the needs of vulnerable residents by providing training when he was not qualified to do so and by providing fraudulent certificates to several organisations. An Interim Conditions of Practice Order would not provide adequate protection and therefore the Panel concluded that an Interim Suspension Order is the only means to protect the public and uphold public trust and confidence in the profession pending the appeal period.

This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.
 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Ian Wright

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
04/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off