A member of the College of Paramedics shares their experience of receiving a letter from the HCPC.
Name and position withheld for purposes of anonymity.
Earlier this year I was informed of allegations against me made by a former employer. The relationship had broken down between us so no local resolution could be made. The allegations were forwarded to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
I was braced for the first letter to land on my doorstep to inform me that the HCPC had received allegations and they were now going to test the evidence to decide if a fitness to practise hearing was indeed needed. The letter stated at this time I could continue to practise unrestricted. I informed my current employer as advised in the letter.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened seven days later.
A second letter landed in the morning and I did not read this until the evening after I returned home. It stated that, on the basis of the seriousness of the allegations, the HCPC had seen fit to request an interim suspension order.
I was devastated! How would I work? How would I feed my family? My reputation of 20 years would be tarnished for ever. I would be humiliated and the source of ridicule.
I contacted the College of Paramedics, of which I am a full member and have been for several years. I was not prepared for the next few minutes, hours or days.
As soon as I contacted the College, I was given names of responsible people who would support me through the process and recommended to phone the legal helpline.
I dialled and left a message. Three hours passed and I called again and got through to the legal team.
They listened for half an hour and advised me of the next step. They would have to speak to the College before confirming they could act on my behalf.
Hearing my concern, they referred me to The Ambulance Service Charity (TASC).
No sooner had I hung up from the Legal helpline I had a call from an Advisor at TASC who turned out to be a godsend. She reassured me that they would step in and help me with whatever they could, financially and emotionally. My grief turned to shock at the kindness of a charity I had never heard of before, but they were to be there to support me and my family.
A day later I was informed that the College would provide me with legal assistance.
I did ask myself just how they would manage this as I had only six days, including the weekend, before I had to appear before a HCPC hearing.
The phone calls and emails were coming quick and fast and involved evidence gathering and the background information needed, not to mention a CV, CPD and testimonials.
I was informed on the Monday, with 48 hours to go that the College were not only providing me with a solicitor, but also with a barrister to defend my case.
On the day of the hearing I met the team in a small room at the HCPC Tribunal Service in London and we poured over every angle of the case. They asked points that I would never have thought relevant or necessary with the result when I went to the hearing that afternoon that I felt protected, represented and heard. I said nothing but to confirm my name.
Everything that needed to be said was said by the QC representing me. The result was no interim suspension nor any restrictions in practice. The relief brings me to tears even now.
You would never go into a situation without your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be it helmet, hi-vis, ballistic protection or even gloves. If you are practicing in our field and you do not have the protection of OUR College, you are operating without some of the best PPE.
I thank the College of Paramedics for their swift action through which I was provided with a fantastic legal team who protected me and my family when we needed it most.
Please join our College and strengthen it as the main voice for our profession, so that when and if you ever need them, it will continue to be the strongest support available for both defence and advancement.