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HPC v Mr SLP (Biomedical scientist)

A decision of the panel of the Health Professions Council Conduct and Competence Committee of the 27 July 2010

Mr SLP (a biomedical scientist) has been suspended for 12 months after the Conduct and Competence Committee found that his fitness to practise was impaired as he had consumed alcohol whilst on duty on two nights and in addition on one of the nights he had also attended work under the influence of alcohol.

The hearing took place in absence of the registrant, as notice of the hearing had been sent to him at his last known address and no documents had been returned by the Royal Mail. There had been no previous engagement in the fitness to practise procedure by the registrant. There had been no contact with the HPC by the registrant and there was no evidence that suggested he was likely to attend if the hearing was adjourned.

An investigation had been out into the registrant’s behaviour on the two nights in question.

On the second night the registrant told his line manager that he had been drinking since he came on duty and thought he would be over the drink drive limit. The line manager formed the impression that he was unfit to remain on duty due to being under the influence of alcohol and so escorted him from the building and arranged for him to be taken home by taxi. The registrant also indicated that he had been consuming alcohol the previous evening and admitted to having an alcohol problem. Members of staff noted smelling alcohol on his breath and that his speech was slurred.

The panel noted that to attend work whilst under the influence of alcohol and to consume alcohol whilst on duty was a breach of the terms of the registrant’s employment with the Trust and would compromise the safety of patients and would impinge upon the registrant’s ability to work safely and effectively. His actions also constituted a breach of the HPC standards 1, 3 and 13 of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics and of 1a.1, 1a.5, 1a.6, 1a.8 and 2b.4 of the HPC Standards of Proficiency for biomedical scientists.

The registrant had resigned from his post with the Trust and had not engaged with the HPC in connection with the regulatory process. The Panel concluded that, although his conduct may be remediable, there was no evidence to show that it had been remedied or that it was unlikely to be repeated.

A suspension of one year was considered appropriate and a proportionate disposal of the case in the circumstances, as it would give the registrant time to reflect and engage with the regulatory process.