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Proceeding in absence
1. Mr Tallis applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. He informed the Panel that the Registrant had not engaged with this process having failed to attend her substantive hearing on 18 July 2013, or the subsequent review hearing on 18 July 2014. Mr Tallis also submitted that the Registrant was aware of this hearing having applied by email dated 26 June 2015 for it to be adjourned. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who advised that the Panel’s discretion to proceed in a registrant’s absence should only be exercised with the utmost care and caution.
2. The Panel was satisfied that notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant dated 02 June 2015 by first class post and had been served in accordance with the rules. The Panel had regard to the Registrant’s email dated 26 June 2015 in which the Registrant requested an adjournment stating her representative could not attend on 03 July and that she had another commitment on that date. However she stated that she could cancel this commitment and wished to attend the hearing. The Panel also noted that the Registrant was informed on 01 July 2015 that her adjournment request was refused and that she should attend the hearing. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself. The Panel noted that the purpose of this hearing was a statutory review of a Suspension Order which was first imposed on 18 July 2013 and extended for a further 12 months on 18 July 2014. The Panel considered that it was in the public interest and in the Registrant’s interests that the Order should be reviewed expeditiously. Accordingly, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
Application for hearing to be held in private
3. The Panel, having heard from Mr Tallis, agreed for the hearing to be heard in private under article 10(1)a) of the Health Committee Rules.
Decision on Impairment
4. The Panel had regard to the findings of the previous Panels that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her health.
5. The Panel was presented with no information from the Registrant in relation to any steps she had taken since the imposition of the Suspension Order to improve her health and her fitness to practise. The Panel noted that in its determination of 18 July 2013 that Panel when imposing the Suspension Order made it clear that it may be helpful to a reviewing Panel for the Registrant to provide to it any evidence that she has put in place a structured supervised treatment programme and independent verification of her engagement with supporting periodic results of testing. The Panel also noted the evidence given to the review Panel on 18 July 2014 by Dr Bunn that the Registrant was at that time unfit for work.
6. In the absence of any evidence of remediation or improvement in her condition, the Panel determined that the Registrant remains at risk of causing harm to service users and of bringing her profession into disrepute. Accordingly the Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
Decision on Sanction
7. The Panel considered the submissions made by Mr Tallis on behalf of the HCPC and received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
8. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of any sanction was not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession and the HCPC as its regulator, by the maintenance of proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy. 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 seriousness.
9. In determining the appropriate and proportionate sanction, the Panel had regard to the seriousness of the Registrant’s adverse health and also bore in mind that the Registrant has not provided any evidence of any steps taken by her to refrain from exacerbating her health issues.
10. The Panel first considered taking no action, however it concluded that this would be inappropriate and would not be sufficient to protect service users or the reputation of the profession. The Panel considered that this was not an appropriate case for mediation and that a caution order would be insufficient.
11. The Panel was unable to formulate any workable or practicable conditions of practice, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement and the absence of any information as to her current health.
12. The Panel carefully considered whether to confirm or extend the current Suspension Order and was mindful that the purpose of such an order includes a Registrant being able to demonstrate that his/her fitness to practise is no longer impaired at the time when the order is reviewed. The Panel considered that it was unable to make a striking off order at this period in time.
13. The Panel concluded that by extending the current Suspension Order for a period of six months from the expiry of the current order, the Registrant could finally provide the material suggested by the previous Panel. The Panel also noted that a future review Panel could impose a striking off order.
14. This Panel is also of the opinion that in addition to the material suggested by the final hearing Panel of 18 July 2013, it would be helpful to a future review Panel were the Registrant to provide evidence that she has reflected on the impact that her condition has had on service users, colleagues and the reputation of her profession, as well as information as to how she proposes to manage related risks in the future.
15. In the circumstances of this case, the Panel concluded that a further suspension order for a period of 6 months was the only appropriate and proportionate sanction.
The Registrar is instructed to suspend the name of Ms Anamaria Douglas from the register for 6 months upon the expiry of the current Suspension Order.
History of Hearings for Anamaria Douglas
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|14/01/2016||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|
|03/07/2015||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|