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HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

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  #1  
Old 22nd December 2011, 12:50 PM
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Default HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

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Hide Notice Of Allegation

During the course of your registration as a Clinical Scientist, between 1st March 2009 and 26th October 2010, you:
1. Made disparaging comments on the website forum, “Bad Science” about Dr XY
2. The matter set out in paragraph 1 constitutes misconduct.
3. By reason of that misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.
Quote:
In determining the issue of impairment the Panel also had regard to the HPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” and has followed the sequential approach set out in the case of Cohen Vs. GMC ((2008) EWHC 581). It has taken into account the ‘personal’ component, namely, the current behaviour of the Registrant and the ‘public’ component, namely, the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession. The Panel also considered the respective submissions of the parties, the Registrant’s bundle of documents and two testimonials submitted on his behalf. It has considered his oral evidence and the evidence of Dr Hart.
Whilst this Panel does not question the Registrant’s motivation with respect to his interest in the use of internet sites such as the Bad Science Forum to discuss and debate clinical issues it nevertheless finds that his posts were disparaging, inappropriate and unprofessional. As set out above the Registrant failed to keep high standards of personal conduct and it is the Panel’s judgement that his behaviour had the potential to damage public confidence in him and his profession. Whilst the Panel accept that he has shown some insight and that there is a low risk of repetition, it is the Panel’s judgement that there is a clear need, in this case, to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession. The Registrant admitted misconduct in making disparaging comments on the Bad Science Forum about Dr XY could undermine public confidence in him and in his profession. In the circumstances of this case the public would expect the Registrant’s regulator to make a finding of impairment. Public confidence in the profession and the HPC’s regulatory role would be undermined if a finding of impairment of fitness to practise was not made.
The Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of misconduct.
Quote:
It has considered the question of which sanction to impose in ascending order of severity. It notes that where a Panel has determined that fitness to practise is impaired, it is not obliged to impose a sanction.
It first considered to take no further action, but decided against this course having regard to the seriousness of misconduct set out above. To dispose of this case by taking no further action would neither reflect the seriousness of misconduct found nor address the public interest considerations referred to above. This misconduct cannot, in the Panels judgement, be categorised as minor.
Having decided that to take no further action would not be appropriate in this case, it next considered the imposition of a Caution Order. In that regard it considered all the criteria set out in the above mentioned indicative sanctions guidance. It notes that this case does not involve any issues in relation to the Registrant’s clinical competence and further notes that the misconduct did not cause any patient harm. The Registrant has apologised for his misconduct, now realises that his actions fell below the standards expected of a registered professional and has shown genuine remorse. Further, it is the Panel’s judgement that the majority of his posts on the Bad Science Forum were not inappropriate and that there is a low risk of reoccurrence of his misconduct.
The Panel has decided to make a Caution Order. It notes that 3 years should be regarded as the bench mark for such an Order but has decided to decrease that period to two years to reflect the mitigation present in this case, set out above.
http://www.hpc-uk.org/complaints/hea...11&EventType=H
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  #2  
Old 22nd December 2011, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Turns out the person that the disparging comments were made about probably deserves them:
The Wrongness of Dr Sarah Myhill
Dr Sarah Myhill – Yet More Dangerous Advice?
GMC Complaint Regarding Dr Sarah Myhill
The GMC Owes Stuart Jones An Apology
GP banned from prescribing drugs by GMC

Looks like the public are being protected from the wrong person.

Quote:
Given that the concerns raised by Stuart Jones about the contents of Dr. Myhill’s website were so serious (and some of the pages have since been amended, removing the medically dubious bits) the take-away message is that if medical professions criticise each other they should choose their words very carefully and never, ever express them in public. Which is a real worry because if any medical professional is giving dangerous advice then the public needs to know.

The nuttier wing of CFS/ME activism has been gunning for Stuart Jones because they regard any criticism of Dr. Myhill as an attack on them.
http://jaycueaitch.wordpress.com/201...ng-of-dissent/
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  #3  
Old 23rd December 2011, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Quote:
the Registrant failed to keep high standards of personal conduct
I always wonder by what standard they use as a guideline and by what authority they set the standard. Maybe some people would think more highly of a clinician that speaks their mind and tells it as it is. I think its time we all stopped paying HPC fees and tell them to naff off and judge themselves by their own standards first before they judge proper professionals with worthwhile professions.(but not so politely) and then ask them what they gonna do about it?

Dave Smith
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  #4  
Old 24th December 2011, 02:27 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Smith View Post
I think its time we all stopped paying HPC fees and tell them to naff off and judge themselves by their own standards first before they judge proper professionals with worthwhile professions.(but not so politely) and then ask them what they gonna do about it?
Best suggestion you've made all year, Dave. Glad you've seen the light!

All the best
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Old 27th December 2011, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Given that One of the recurring themes on the Bad science website is quacks using litigation to stifle valid criticism, this seems a horrible escalation!

Here's more.

http://www.badscience.net/forum/view...hp?f=3&t=15882
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Old 28th April 2012, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Another case has come up:
Warning for paramedic after online comments boasting of groping a woman's breasts
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A PARAMEDIC who boasted online that he had groped a woman's breasts while on an emergency call has been found guilty of misconduct.
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  #7  
Old 28th April 2012, 07:30 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

We really need to stand together and do something to rid ourselves of the HPC. IMO they are taking their remit to realms far outside their original scope and are starting to emulate the Spanish inquisition. Why are we subject to special constraint on our behaviour and character, who has set the criteria for what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. What areas of life are the HPC allowed to or give themselves the authority to snoop into? If you have sex with your next door neighbours wife at a swingers party and someone puts a picture of it on facebook is that bad behaviour, is it immoral behaviour? What about if they only fantasized about it but then communicated that fact to some busy body who thought it was their duty to report that to the HPC? Certainly its legal behaviour just as the comments made by the Paramedic are legal and so are the opinions, and the act of communicating them, of the Podiatrist. What gives the people on the board of the HPC special authority to judge a persons behaviour or moral standards outside of what is lawful, where do they draw their guidelines from? Perhaps they should publish a full and exhaustive list of unacceptable or immoral behaviour that would render a person liable to be deemed unfit to practice.
Perhaps this concept should go before the European court of Human Rights.

Dave Smith
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Old 28th April 2012, 08:09 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Smith View Post
We really need to stand together and do something to rid ourselves of the HPC. IMO they are taking their remit to realms far outside their original scope and are starting to emulate the Spanish inquisition. Why are we subject to special constraint on our behaviour and character, who has set the criteria for what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. What areas of life are the HPC allowed to or give themselves the authority to snoop into? If you have sex with your next door neighbours wife at a swingers party and someone puts a picture of it on facebook is that bad behaviour, is it immoral behaviour? What about if they only fantasized about it but then communicated that fact to some busy body who thought it was their duty to report that to the HPC? Certainly its legal behaviour just as the comments made by the Paramedic are legal and so are the opinions, and the act of communicating them, of the Podiatrist. What gives the people on the board of the HPC special authority to judge a persons behaviour or moral standards outside of what is lawful, where do they draw their guidelines from? Perhaps they should publish a full and exhaustive list of unacceptable or immoral behaviour that would render a person liable to be deemed unfit to practice.
Perhaps this concept should go before the European court of Human Rights.

Dave Smith
Agreed. I would de-register quicker than you could say `antidisestablishmentarianism`....But, (and it`s a BIG but) whilst I would not mind forgoing the protected title of podiatrist, I`m not prepared to relinquish my LA qualification, which is now dependant upon HPC registration. Wish I had gained it prior to the augmentation of the HPO.....well `n truly over that barrel.

Bel
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Old 28th April 2012, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

This is a copy of an email sent to my local MP.

Dear Damian Collins MP

I am writing to you because I am concerned about the conduct of the HPC (Health Professionals Council). I am particularly concerned about the area where they make judgements about misconduct in terms of social and or moral behaviour. It seems to me that they (HPC) take up cases that are far outside there remit and make judgements about moral and social behaviour that they have no authority to do. They appear to be delving deeply into private lives and listening to gossip reported by parties that may have ulterior motives to get a certain person reprimanded. Certainly it appears that the NHS use the HPC procedures as a short cut to normal disciplinary procedures, which of course saves them time and money. There are many worrying cases of the HPC snooping into parts of peoples lives that they should , in my opinion , have no right to do.

How is it that it can be right for one set or group of people with a certain set of rules for social and moral behaviour to then impose those restrictions on another set of people who may not agree with those rules and whose customs and traditions do not follow those criteria.

If the HPC does think it has this authority then shouldn't it be beholding to them to produce a document outlining what constitutes a breach of such rules or guidelines of behaviour. Shouldn't this document be complete and exhaustive and open to scrutiny to all groups who would have a vested interest in those guidelines? Otherwise aren't the judgements made just arbitrary in nature and ambiguous and variable depending on the mood of the day or the make up of the judging panel? One might ask ' how perfect does a professional have to be' ? does professional person who is under the scrutiny of the HPC have to have impeccable manners and perfect behaviour at all times or risk losing his livelihood and his social standing. By what definition of perfect does the HPC work, and by what margin of imperfectedness must a person be to be persecuted and prosecuted. How imperfect are you yourself and what guideline do you use to measure that perfectness?

These judgements are serious decisions and seriously affect a persons life and the lives of their families, banning someone from their work place or striking them of the professional list because of some one off piece of behaviour, which is legal but deemed unprofessional by the standards of some quango court is in my mind outrageous both in principle and reality. The scrutiny and degradation of the persons character is bad enough since all these cases are open to public viewing since they are published on the internet, this may be enough in itself to seriously damage a persons standing in the community and within his or her client base and so reduce their ability to profitably persue their career which may and mostly does take years of building and cost a large amount of money. All that can be destroyed by a busy body jobsworth and an HPC that is to ready and keen to persue a flimsy case to its bitter end.

I would be most grateful if you would consider looking into this matter further than just enquiring with the HPC if they agree, since surely they will not. I think questions, serious questions need to be asked about the authority and remit of the HPC and where and how and why they are allowed to persue their over enthusiastic prosecutions.

NB you will find many such unfair cases outlined and discussed on podiatry-arena.com, if you go here http://www.hpc-uk.org/complaints/hea...12&EventType=H You will be able to read the type of cases the HPC consider. You will note that all allegations come to the consideration of misconduct and thereby the misconduct constitutes impaired fitness to practice i.e. 4) By reason of that misconduct and your fitness to practise is impaired.


Regards Dave Smith
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Old 28th April 2012, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

The smug young lady on the HPC site here http://www.hpc-uk.tv/fitnesstopractice/flash.html says in an almost facetious way that "sanctions are imposed to protect the public not to punish the registrant for their mistake".
Ha! I think that anyone in private practice who has been barred from practice (and not struck off) for a given period and so as a result loses their business and livelihood and house and perhaps family thru the stress of it all, will feel that hey have indeed been severely punished.

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Old 29th April 2012, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Quote:
IMO they are taking their remit to realms far outside their original scope and are starting to emulate the Spanish inquisition.
Nobody expected that...

Sorry.
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Old 29th April 2012, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

And nobody expected (retrospectively at least [if that can be possible or make sense]) it to last 630 years. Hopefully we won't have to wait till the year 2632 to see the end of the HPC.

Anyway I encourage more people to petition their MP if they feel the HPC is unfairly or heavy handedly prosecuting health professionals for what they or a third party consider to be misconduct.

I believe that there should be precise and exhaustive guidelines to reveal and define what misconduct is, a retrospective and punitive definition of bad behaviour is absurd and unacceptable, and the people who enforce that should be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny as to their integrity, professionalism and public and private personal conduct than the people they are judging.

As to the bypassing of normal misconduct procedures in normal employment law, then this is exactly what happens. After reading thru the ACAS guide to Discipline and grievances at work and the ACAS code of conduct in disciplinary procedures and that these guidelines are recommended by the government as stated on Direct .Gov' Disciplinary Procedures at work' I believe that direct referral to the HPC bypasses and disregards these guidelines. I belive that the HPC can be considered a hostile prosecutor of the registrant since they have no regard for their well being and only act to help protect the public and persue the case in those terms.

The guidelines clearly state that minor infringements of professional conduct should be dealt with in a reasonable way and informally at first. Employees should be given the ability to informally and inhouse, explain their case and help should be given to explain why they have been considered to be at fault and how they could avoid doing so again in the future. The HPC route does not allow for this but seems to be the first line of referral now. This can be verified by reading the advice given by the NHS to the public regarding reporting what they see as misconduct i.e. they are referred directly to the HPC or other regulatory bodies as relevant. Here - http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rig...isconduct.aspx

Therefore there is no chance for an informal, reasonable, non public, unbiased, non hostile review of the complaint in the early stages. The HPC does not appear to offer any help or advice to the registrant under scrutiny in terms of education and rehabilitation but merely decides on the factuality of the complaint (did the event occur) and whether that constitutes misconduct, which as mentioned earlier is often retrospectively defined, and what punishment the mistake deserves - even tho they callously and facetiously declare that it is not a punishment but an action to protect the public. In my opinion the whole procedure is disgraceful and unreasonable and probably, if tested, unlawful certainly in terms of its reasonableness.

Dave Smith
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Last edited by David Smith : 29th April 2012 at 10:04 AM. Reason: add link
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Old 29th April 2012, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: HPC case on 'disparaging comments on the website forum'

Hello Dave

Your post demonstrates a sincere naivety of the role of the HPC and regulation generally - in a nice way I should add! The problem of defining precisely what constitutes unprofessional conduct and malpractice is that it can constrain the regulator when determining exactly what constitutes the above! Where terminology is ambiguious, it allows greater discretion and wider interpretation and is probably a necessary evil insofar as it removes the need for regular revision of the code. Hindsight is a wonderful and common practice - accurate foresight is a much rarer beast - and whilst the architects of legislation may try and cover all the relevant ground through consultation and negotiation with the relevant stakeholders - the NHS, patient groups and professional bodies, it is not always possible to have legislation and regulation that does not need to be revised at some stage once it has been tested with the passage of time. This includes guidelines and procedures with the Fitness to Practise process. The FtP process has been revised over the last 11 years with some improvements for registrants during due process - but that is not to say that it can't be improved further.

That said, the primary function of the regulator is to "protect the public" and it must been seen to do exactly that otherwise accusations of "old boy's network" and "looking after their own" could and would be made. I agree that some NHS personnel have been unfairly treated - and that the FtP process has been used to remove staff where the in-house HR procedure may not have been so "successful" - but careful considerations must be given to each individual case. Rarely, if ever, are these cases clear cut! I once worked in an NHS Trust where a colleague was an abusive alcoholic and would regularly be at work drunk. He was a nightmare to deal with - I was the SCP rep at the time - and there were several interviews, cautions, warnings, referrals to occupational health, written warnings over a seven year period - but it wasn't until he held a No10 scalpel to the throat of a district nurse who had the temerity to ask if he had been drinking that day (he had) during an afternoon clinical session - that he was finally removed from front-line care. He was given a desk job and successfully sued the Trust for constructive dismissal - but in reality he should've been removed from patient care many years previously. Where you draw the line in the sand may seem simple at first, but there are always exceptional cases - and the use of additional mechanisms to deal with malpractice and unprofessional conduct may prove irresistable to the employer.

I do not view the HPC as a bad thing for the profession - but I do consider the legislation that frames the activity of the regulator ineffective and not fit for purpose, as I have written elsewhere. The view from the professional bodies is that it is better to try and influence from within rather from opposing from the outside - and in some aspects they have been instrumental in securing change in that manner - for example, improvements to the FtP process. Where the professional bodies have failed is in lobbying or influencing ammendments to the Health Professions Order to close the various loopholes that allow easy circumvention of the law, thus rendering the principle of "public protection", useless. But given the vested interest that some of the professional bodies have in maintaining the status quo, it is hardly surprising.

Kind regards
MR
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