Julie A Taylor

Profession: Radiographer

Registration Number: RA56007

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 13/07/2015 End: 16:00 14/07/2015

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BU

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

As amended

During the course of your employment as a Radiographer at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospital Foundation NHS Foundation Trust from 26 April 2012 to 25 April 2014, you:

1. Provided inaccurate information to your employer regarding your absence from work during the following periods:

a. 20 - 27 September 2013, in which you stated that Service User 1 was in hospital after an attempted suicide.
b. 30 September 2013, in which you stated you had to attend to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) meeting regarding Service User 1.

2. As part of your course work you submitted a radiography image to the University of Leeds without redacting the patient's name.

3. The matter set out in paragraph 1 was dishonest.

4. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 3 constitute misconduct.

5. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was aware that written Notice of these proceedings was posted by first class post to the Registrant at her registered address on 15 April 2015. The Panel was shown documents which established both the fact of the service and the identity of the Registrant’s registered address. In these circumstances, the Panel accepted that proper service of the notice had been effected.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant.

2. Mr Walters on behalf of the HCPC submitted that the Panel should consider the case in the absence of the Registrant.

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4. The Panel was aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one to be taken with great caution.  However, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The reasons are as follows:

• Service of the appropriate Notice of this hearing has been properly effected.

• The Panel noted that a further copy of the Notice of Hearing had been sent to the Registrant by email.

• The Registrant has not submitted any representations to the HCPC as regards the allegations or otherwise engaged with the HCPC.

• There is no reason to suppose that an adjournment would result in the future attendance of the Registrant and the Registrant has not applied for an adjournment.

• There is a public interest in proceeding.

• The allegations relate to events that occurred in 2013 and it is desirable that these proceedings should be concluded as soon as fairness allows.

• There are two witnesses presently in attendance.

• In all the circumstances the absence of the Registrant should be treated as voluntary.
Application to amend the allegations

5. Mr Walters on behalf of the HCPC applied to amend the particulars. The details of the amendments are set out in bold above.  Mr Walters informed the Panel that the Registrant had been informed of the nature of the proposed amendments by the letter dated 29 January 2015. He submitted that the proposed amendments more accurately reflected the evidence, complied with recent case law as regards the pleading of allegations of dishonesty and corrected a spelling mistake. The Registrant has not objected to the proposed amendments. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel having concluded that the amendments could be made without unfairness to the Registrant, allowed those amendments.

6. (Redacted for public consumption) During the Panel’s deliberations, the Panel of its own motion further amended the particulars to “Service User 1” as this accorded with the Identification Key provided by the HCPC.

Procedure

7. The Panel decided to consider the facts, misconduct, and impairment as a single stage and then, if appropriate, to consider sanction separately.

8. The Registrant has not made any admissions to any of the particulars of the allegations.

Hearing to be partially in private

9. The Panel determined that evidence that related to the medical condition or treatment of an individual to whom reference will be made should be heard in private.

Background

10. In summary the relevant background is as follows:

• The Registrant is by profession a Radiographer and is registered in the Radiographer part of the HCPC register.

• At all material times the Registrant was employed by the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) as a senior mammographer in the Medical Imaging Department. 

• The Registrant was absent from work on 20 September, part of 23 September, from 24 to 27 September, and for part of the day on 30 September 2013. In respect of those absences the Registrant gave explanations which the HCPC allege were inaccurate and dishonest and which are reflected in particulars 1 [a] and 1[b] and 3 of the allegation.

• The Registrant also submitted an image as part of her course work for the University of Leeds which contained an unredacted patient’s name. This action is reflected in particular 2 of the allegation.

• On 28 January 2014, and as part of the investigation undertaken by the Trust, the Registrant attended an investigatory meeting. In the course of that meeting the Registrant made a number of admissions which are relevant to particulars 1[a] and [b] and 3 of the allegation.

• On 22 April 2014, the Registrant wrote to the Trust tendering her resignation. This became effective from 25 April 2014.

Witnesses

11. The Panel heard oral evidence from the following witnesses who were called by the HCPC:

• JF. JF is employed by Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust as a Superintendent Radiographer. She is and at all material times was responsible for managing radiographic, clinical and administrative support staff. Ms JF investigated the validity of the reasons advanced by the Registrant as to her absences from work and also why she had failed to complete her course work. JF was present at the investigatory meeting held on 28 January 2014. JF has made a written statement dated 05 March 2015.

• JA who is currently employed as an Ultrasound Lecturer within the Radiography division of the Academic Unit of the Pharmacy, Radiography and Healthcare Science within the School of Science at the University of Leeds. JA has made a written statement dated 03 March 2015.

12. The Panel regarded both these witnesses as credible and fair; their oral evidence was consistent with their written statements and was also consistent with relevant contemporary documents.

Bundle of documents

13. The Panel considered a substantial bundle of documents comprising 246 pages which was produced by the HCPC. This bundle contained contemporaneous documents relating to the allegations against the Registrant and documents which came into existence as part of the investigation.

14. The Panel considered the submissions as to facts, misconduct and impairment made by Mr Walters on behalf of the HCPC.

15. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to facts, misconduct and impairment.

16. The Panel was aware that on matters of fact [as distinct from issues of misconduct and impairment] the burden of proof rested on the HCPC and that the standard of proof was the civil one namely on the balance of probabilities.

Decision on Facts

Particular 1

1. Provided inaccurate information to your employer regarding your absence from work during the following periods:
a. 20 - 27 September 2013, in which you stated that Service User 1 was in hospital after an attempted suicide.
b. 30 September 2013, in which you stated you had to attend to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) meeting regarding Service User 1.

17. The Panel has seen the written statement of JF and has heard her oral evidence. The Panel has read all the relevant documents that are comprised within the bundle of documents referred to above. The Panel has read and considered what the Registrant said in response to the questions that were put to her in the investigatory meeting conducted on 28 January 2014.

18. The Panel identified ten occasions when the Registrant communicated with colleagues or managers at the Trust regarding her absence from work and her daughter's situation. The Panel concluded that, in relation to five of the communications, the Registrant had provided inaccurate information to her employer. Four of the communications related to the period 20 to 27 September 2013 and the fifth communication related to 30 September 2013.

19. The five relevant communication were as follows:

1. A telephone conversation with JF on 23 September 2013. The Panel saw a note of this conversation, prepared by JF shortly after its conclusion. The Registrant told JF that Service User 1 was in York Hospital. This was inaccurate. JF was the Registrant's line manager, and so the information was provided to her employer.

2. A telephone call made by the Registrant to AR, Clerical Officer, at around 10am on 24 September 2014. The Panel saw a note which was made by JF after AR had informed her of the Registrant's call, detailing its content. The Registrant said that she had just returned from hospital and was going back. This was inaccurate. The Registrant said to AR that she was "checking in as she had been told". In the Panel's opinion, this was a reference to JF asking the Registrant to keep them informed, during their telephone conversation on 23 September. As such, the communication with AR was intended by the Registrant to be passed on to managers and so the information was provided to her employer.

3. A telephone call made by the Registrant to JB at 9am on 26 September 2013. JB was a medical imaging assistant. JB informed JF of the call and the Panel saw JF's note of what JB had told her. The Registrant said that Service User 1 was still in hospital, that her liver function was way down and that they were hoping a clinical psychologist would be seeing her the next day. These were all inaccuracies. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant intended this information to be passed on to managers, and so the information was provided to her employer.

4. A text message to JB at 15:53 on 26 September 2013 in which the Registrant said that the consultant had just gone, reference is made to blood tests, and she says Service User 1 should be allowed home the following day. This information was inaccurate. The Panel considered that the Registrant intended the information to be passed to managers, and noted that she ended the text "Ta J" which suggested she was thanking JB for passing it on.

5. A telephone call to MH prior to 08:57 on 30 September 2013. MH was a superintendent radiographer who also had line management responsibility for the Registrant. During the telephone call, the Registrant said she would have to leave work at 2.50pm that day as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services [CAMHS] team from York was coming to her home to meet with the Doncaster team and hand over care. This was inaccurate, as there was no involvement by either CAMHS team at this stage. This was established during the Trust’s internal investigation. The Registrant admitted, in the meeting on 28 January 2014, that the York CAMHS team was not involved in Service User 1’s care. In fact, the Doncaster CAMHS Team was not involved between September 2011 and November 2013. The information was provided to MH, a senior manager, and so it was provided to her employer.

Particular 1a

20.  Having regard to the material identified above the Panel has concluded on the balance of probabilities that:

• The Registrant did state to employees of the Trust and in explanation of her absence from work in respect of the period 20 September to 27 September 2013 that Service User 1 was in hospital in York following an attempted suicide.

• The Registrant gave further information regarding Service User 1’s care and treatment.

• The information given by the Registrant was inaccurate in that Service User 1 had not been admitted to hospital on any of the dates stated by the Registrant. The information about Service User 1’s care and treatment was also inaccurate as she had not been in hospital.

• When the Registrant made these statements she knew that the information was inaccurate.

      Accordingly, the Panel found the allegation proved.

Particular 1b

21. Having regard to the material identified above the Panel has concluded on the balance of probabilities that:

• The Registrant did state to MH, a senior manager, of the Trust and in explanation of her absence from work in respect of 30 September 2013 that she had to attend a CAMHS meeting with regard to Service User 1.

• The information given by the Registrant was inaccurate in that on 30 September 2013 there was no such meeting and Service User 1 was not then under the care of CAMHS.

• When the Registrant made these statements she knew that the information was inaccurate.

      Accordingly, the Panel found the allegation proved.

Particular 2

2. As part of your course work you submitted a radiography image to the University of Leeds without redacting the patient's name.

22.  The Panel found this allegation proved. The Panel accepted the oral and written evidence of JA which was to the effect that as part of the Registrant’s course work with the University of Leeds she did submit an image that contained an unredacted patient’s name. The Panel has seen a copy of the image in question. The Panel was satisfied by the evidence of JA that the Registrant was aware of the importance of ensuring patient confidentiality by removing all material which could lead to the identification of a patient. The Panel noted that in respect of all the other images submitted by the Registrant all the material identifying the patient had in fact been redacted. The Panel accepted the evidence of JA “it is unlikely that there would be any impact as a result of Julie Taylor’s failure to remove the patient’s name”.       

23.  For the above reasons the Panel found the allegation proved.

Particular 3

3. The matter set out in paragraph 1 was dishonest.

24. The Panel found the allegation proved. For the reasons already set out above the Panel has concluded that the information referred to in particulars 1[a] and [b] was inaccurate. The Panel noted that the inaccurate explanations were given in various forms and to a number of persons and on several occasions. In the course of the investigation meeting held on 28 January 2014 the Registrant admitted that she had lied when she made the statements that are the subject of those particulars. On the basis of those admissions and having regard to the totality of the evidence the Panel concluded on the balance of probabilities that when she made those statements the Registrant intended to deceive her employers. Accordingly the Panel finds the allegation of dishonesty proved. 

Decision on Grounds

25. The Panel proceeded to consider whether the matters found proved as set out above amount to misconduct and if so, whether by reason thereof the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

26. The Panel considered the submissions made by Mr Walters on behalf of the HCPC. He submitted that in respect of the matters found proved, they were sufficiently serious as to amount to misconduct and that by reason of that misconduct her fitness to practise was impaired.

27. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

28. The Panel was aware that any findings of misconduct and impairment were matters for the independent judgement of the Panel.

29. The Panel also concluded that in respect of the matters set out in particulars 1[a] and [b] and 3, the Registrant was in breach of the following HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics:

13. You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.

and the following HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Radiographers:

3 be able to maintain fitness of practice:

3.1 understand the need to maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct.

30. The Panel determined that the facts found proved under particulars 1[a] and [b] and 3 do amount to “misconduct”. The statements made by the Registrant were persistently inaccurate, dishonest and were made with the intention of deceiving her employer. In acting as she did the Registrant’s conduct fell well short of what would be proper in the circumstances.

31. In the view of the Panel the Registrant’s failings were sufficiently serious as to amount to misconduct.

32. In respect of particular 2, the Panel concluded that the conduct was not so serious as to amount to misconduct. In coming to this conclusion the Panel noted that the Registrant did redact the patient identifying material from the numerous other images that she submitted as part of her course work; accordingly and in respect of the one image that is the subject of particular 2 the Panel regarded the failure by the Registrant as an isolated lapse. The Panel also noted the evidence of JA, which was supported by JF, that it was unlikely that there would have been any adverse impact as a result of the failure by the Registrant to remove the patient’s name. 

Decision on Impairment 

33. The Panel was aware that consideration of impairment only arises in the event that the Panel judges that the proven facts do amount to misconduct and that what has to be determined is current impairment.

34. In respect of particulars 1[a] and [b] and 3, the Panel has concluded that a finding of current impairment is necessary to maintain proper standards and public confidence in the profession of Radiographer and also to protect the reputation of the regulatory process. Consequently a finding of impairment is in the public interest as described by Mrs Justice Cox in the case of Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v Nursing and Midwifery Council, Paula Grant [2011] EWHC 927 [Admin].

35. There was no evidence or other material before the Panel from or on behalf of the Registrant as to insight or remediation. The Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC in any way. Consequently, the Panel concluded that there was a risk of repetition and determined that a finding of current impairment was also justified for that reason.

36. For the reasons set out above there is no finding of impairment in respect of particular 2.

37. For the reasons set out above the Panel finds that by reason of the Registrant’s misconduct her fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction

38. Mr Walters made submissions on behalf of the HCPC.

39. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

40. The Panel kept in mind that the purpose of a sanction is not punitive but is designed to protect the public interest which includes protecting members of the public from possible harm, maintaining proper standards within the profession, the reputation of the profession itself and public confidence in the regulatory functions of the HCPC.

41. The Panel took into account the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) that has been published by the HCPC.

42. In considering whether to make an order and the nature and duration of any order to be made, the Panel applied the principle of proportionality weighing the Registrant’s interests in the balance with the need to protect the public interest.

43. The Panel took into account both mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

44. Mitigating factors included the following:

• The possibility that at the time that the Registrant acted in the way found proved, a member of her family may have been ill or experiencing some disturbing event.

• At the investigatory meeting held on 28 January 2014 the Registrant admitted that she had deceived her employer.

• The Registrant has no previous disciplinary findings against her at the HCPC.

• The Panel heard positive evidence about the Registrant’s clinical abilities.

45.  However, the Panel also considered the following aggravating factors:

• Persistent dishonesty during the period covered by the allegation.

• Conduct by the Registrant which led to unwitting involvement of colleagues in the maintenance of her deception.

• The Registrant has abused the goodwill and support of her employer.

• The Registrant’s failure to demonstrate any insight or remediation during the HCPC process.

46. The Panel considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity. In arriving at its decision the Panel applied the principles that are set out in the ISP.

No action

47. The Panel concluded that having regard to the facts that have been found proven, to take no further action would be wholly inappropriate. Such an outcome would provide no protection to the public, would undermine confidence in the profession and in the regulatory functions of the HCPC and would not serve to maintain standards of conduct and performance within the profession.

Caution

48. For the same reasons as those just expressed in paragraph 47 with regard to taking no action the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would also be inappropriate.

Conditions of Practice Order

49. The Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order was inappropriate. The Panel has not received any information from or on behalf of the Registrant as to her present circumstances, and so the Panel was not satisfied that the Registrant would be willing or able to comply with conditions. In any event, there are no conditions which are relevant, workable and proportionate that can properly be formulated to address the identified failings of the Registrant - which are attitudinal in character - or provide proper protection to the public. Moreover, the Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order would be insufficient to sustain professional standards or to maintain confidence in the profession.

Suspension

50. The Panel concluded that a Suspension Order would provide adequate protection to the public and help to sustain public confidence in the profession. A Suspension Order will prevent the Registrant from practising and would give a clear indication to the profession and the wider public that misconduct of this nature is wholly unacceptable. The suspension will be for a period of 12 months. This provides sufficient time for the Registrant to reflect on and acknowledge her misconduct and to seek ways in which to demonstrate insight and remediation.

Striking off

51. The Panel did consider a Striking Off Order. It was aware that such an order is a sanction of “last resort”. The Panel did not consider that at this stage such an order was either necessary or proportionate. In the Panel’s view, the Registrant’s actions could in theory be remedied. It is possible that, in the future, she would be capable of returning to safe and effective practice.

Review

52. This order will be reviewed prior to its expiration. A reviewing panel would be assisted by:

• The presence of the Registrant
• Evidence of her insight into these events.
• Information regarding her plans for the future.
• Evidence of the steps that she has taken to maintain her professional skills.

 

Order

The Panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months.

Notes

An Interim Suspension Order was also imposed to cover the 28 day appeal period.

The Order will be reviewed upon its expiry, i.e. on/around  11 August 2016.

This was a Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing held at the HCPC between the 13 & 14 July 2015.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Julie A Taylor

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
11/07/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
13/07/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended