Evidence Withheld in HCPC Proceedings

Evidence Withheld in HCPC Proceedings

Darren Snow secures acquittal of Paramedic in HCPC Proceedings with a decision finding critical evidence was withheld & significant criticism of the underlying investigation.

Darren Snow, instructed by James Wilkinson, of Thompsons Solicitors recently represented paramedic IM before an HCPC Conduct & Competence Committee. Following a submission of no case to answer at the end of the HCPC case the Committee dismissed all charges, finding no impairment or misconduct proved. They provided a decision not only rejecting much to the HCPC case but also making critical findings about the integrity of the underlying Trust investigation and of those investigating. At the conclusion of the proceedings the Committee went as far as to express the view that the Registrant had been treated poorly by the Trust in the way it had conducted its investigation. The Committee made a critical finding that key evidence in the case had been withheld by the Trust at various stages in the investigation – evidence which fundamentally undermined potentially career ending allegations of misconduct against the Registrant.

The case dated from to December 2017. The Registrant, IM, a senior paramedic with over 20 years’ experience attended a 999 call to the house of a lady in her 70s who had fallen down some stairs. Following examination, the Registrant and his partner, a 20-year experienced ambulance technician, found no injuries, the lady refused to go to hospital for further checks, advice was given and the paramedics left.  A few days later the lady was admitted to A&E with significant injuries – fractured ribs, a flailed chest, collapsed lung, brain haemorrhage and significant bruising. She subsequently died from these injuries.

The HCPC case raised multiple charges based around a central allegation that the Registrant had either missed or ignored the injuries, conducted an inadequate assessment and left the lady at her home seriously injured. By the time of the HCPC hearing spread over July and August 2019 he had been through an internal disciplinary case and an Inquest on the basis of an internal investigation by his employer which concluded the injuries were present when he attended the 999 call and had been missed thereby leaving the lady at home with serious injuries which led to her death. On reviewing the documentary evidence served by the HCPC, Darren discovered A&E records where the deceased lady’s husband had informed the A&E doctor on initial assessment at A&E that his wife had suffered a second fall days after the Registrant attended. In cross examination of Trust witnesses it became clear that the existence of this evidence had been missed by the Trust’s investigators and that even when they became aware of its existence, they still did not review their conclusions. Furthermore in cross examination Darren established that the HCPC expert witness, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, agreed that these injuries could not have been present at the time of the first 999 call when the Registrant had attended, furthermore, not even that expert had been provided with the evidence of a second fall when preparing his report for the HCPC proceedings. His expert evidence was therefore of no value and ultimately rejected by the Committee.

It also became clear during Darren’s cross examination that when finally, those conducting the Trust investigation became aware of the evidence of a second fall, they did not act on it nor disclose it to the coroner.  Critically it was not put before the Coroner at the Inquest even when its existence was known and had been discussed by the Trust in meetings preparing for the Inquest. At the Inquest the evidence given on behalf of the Trust relied upon the original investigation and failed to inform the coroner there was evidence of a second intervening fall where the fatal injuries were likely to have been sustained. 

The Registrant, IM, was able to return to work immediately following the hearing.

Charter Chambers is recognised in the Legal 500 as a leading Set for professional disciplinary work with a particular reputation in healthcare work. We enjoy close links with the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives and many of the leading Unions representing healthcare professionals. Several of our members are individually ranked by the Legal 500.  Our team includes several members sitting as legal assessors before the NMC, GDC and GOC. Some Members also sit on disciplinary panels for regulators as panel members and chairs.  For further information on our professional disciplinary team and how we can help you contact either Zack May, our First Junior Clerk or James Hall, Senior Clerk.