Mr Colin Thomas

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL26500

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 08/07/2015 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: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Practitioner Psychologist for Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:

 

1. In July 2012 the records of five patients that you said you were working with were clinically audited and it was found that:

 

a. you did not keep adequate records in that you did not record psychology interventions for the patients.

 

b. you did not store patient information appropriately, in that you:

 

i) kept temporary personal notes about patients at your home address, and;

 

ii) subsequently destroyed the notes stating "they would not be appropriate in an NHS hospital record, particularly with regard to confidentiality issues", or words to that effect.

 

c. you did not maintain an accurate record of your appointments with patients.

 

2. The matters described in paragraphs 1a - bii constitute misconduct.

 

3. The matter described in paragraph 1c constitutes misconduct or a lack of competence.

 

4. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Decision:


1. The Registrant was employed by the Wolverhampton City PCT from August 2003 as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Head of Adult Mental Health Speciality.  He originally worked full-time but in 2006 reduced his hours to four days per week. In February 2011 he was downgraded from a Band 8D to a Band 8B role. His role became Principal Clinical Psychologist (Inpatients) for Younger Adults at Penn Hospital.  The Registrant was mainly responsible for the Sandalwood and Jasmine Wards.  His line manager was WJ Acute Services Manager, and his clinical supervisor was ACD. His duties required him to make records of his psychological interventions in the clinical notes.

2. In July 2012 ACD queried which patients the Registrant was seeing. He gave her the names of five patients and the clinical notes of three of those patients were reviewed and it was found that there was no record of his psychological intervention in the clinical notes. Subsequently it was identified that between February 2011 and July 2012 there were no records of psychology interventions for the other two patients identified by the Registrant. An investigation was undertaken by the Trust and the Registrant explained that the work he undertook with patients was fed back during MDT meetings.  In addition he said “I have notebooks with lists of patients discussed in MDT. These are personal note books which are kept at home and are to be destroyed”. The Wolverhampton Clinical Records Policy states that records should be returned to the workplace at the end of each working day or within 24 hours. Following the Trust investigation and subsequent disciplinary hearing the Registrant was dismissed.  He subsequently referred himself to the HCPC and the Investigating Committee found there was a case to answer.

3. The HCPC submits that the proposed Consent Order incorporating a 2 year Conditions of Practice Order affords the appropriate level of public protection and is not detrimental to the wider public interest.

4. The Panel has considered the HCPC Practice Note entitled Disposal of Cases by Consent which states that: “Disposing of cases by consent is an effective case management tool which reduces the time taken to deal with allegations and the number of contested hearings which need to be held. However, as the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 (the Order) imposes broad public protection obligations upon the Health and Care Professions Council, neither the HCPC nor a Panel should agree to resolve a case by consent unless they are satisfied that:
• the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and
• doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.”
…The HCPC will only consider resolving a case by consent:
• after an Investigating Committee Panel has found that there is a “case to
answer”, so that a proper assessment has been made of the nature,
extent and viability of the allegation;
• where the Registrant is willing to admit the allegation in full. A registrant’s
insight into, and willingness to address, failings are key elements in the
fitness to practise process and it would be inappropriate to dispose of a
case by consent where the Registrant denied liability; and
• where any remedial action proposed by the Registrant and to be embodied in the Consent Order is consistent with the expected outcome if the case was to proceed to a contested hearing.
…Disposal by consent does not affect the range of sanctions available to a Panel, it is merely a process by which the Registrant and the HCPC can propose an appropriate outcome to the case and ask the Panel, assuming that it is content with that outcome, to conclude the case on that basis.
The task for the Panel is to determine whether, on the basis of the evidence
before it:
• to deal with the case in an expedited manner by approving the proposal
set out in the draft Consent Order; or
• to reject that proposal and set the case down for a full contested hearing.

5. The Panel has also carefully considered the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and the HCPC Practice Note entitled Drafting Fitness to Practise Decisions.

6. The Panel is satisfied, after hearing oral evidence from the Registrant, that he has demonstrated insight into his misconduct. His evidence was credible and satisfies the Panel that he has addressed the concerns raised in a professional manner. In relation to these conditions, he told the Panel that it was his intention that his case records will be kept on site to be accessed by a clinical psychologist supervisor or above for audit purposes. He recognised the need to have the agreement of the organisation for whom he proposes to work and the said supervisor for access to the clinical records for the purpose of the monthly audit of his work. He also recognised that such agreement has to be in place before commencing work so as not to be an issue when the audit is due. He added that if there were issues or uncertainty about any of the measures for compliance with the Conditions of Practice Order he would refer back to the HCPC for their guidance and/or consent.  The Panel finds the conditions proposed by the parties are appropriate, proportionate and provide workable and verifiable safeguards to protect the public and to ensure that the Registrant’s serious record keeping failures are not repeated. The proposed conditions fully and suitably mark the misconduct and impairment of his current fitness to practise, taking into account the nature and extent of that misconduct and consequent current impairment.

7. This order will be reviewed before it expires and the reviewing Panel is likely to be assisted by the attendance of the Registrant at the review hearing.

8. The Panel therefore decided to approve the proposed Consent Order.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that for a period of  2 years  from the date that this Order comes into effect on 08 July 2015 (the Operative Date), you, Colin Thomas, must comply with the following conditions of practice:
 
1. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:

a. any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to provide professional work for which your HCPC registration is required;

b. any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with for the purposes of the provision of professional services for which your HCPC registration is required (at the time of application);

c. any prospective employer when applying for work for which your HCPC
registration is required (at the time of your application).
[For the avoidance of doubt, in the event that you engage in independent
private practice, this condition (1) does not extend to requiring you to inform
individual patients seen by you during the course of that practice of this
conditions of practice order. This is on the proviso that the other conditions of the order are being complied with]

2. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your current employer or take up any other or further employment.

3. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer, and the outcome of the same.

4. During any period during which you are working as a Clinical Psychologist you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a Clinical Psychologist with the appropriate qualifications, and you must supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 28 days of the appointment of that supervisor. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.

5. You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the adequacy and consistency of your record keeping.

6. You must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan and to review your record keeping practice. You must ensure that there is a written summary of the matters discussed in these monthly meetings that is signed and dated by both yourself and the supervisor.

7. You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

8. You must maintain on a monthly basis a reflective practice profile about your progress in your record keeping practice.

9. You must arrange for a monthly audit of your record keeping practice to be undertaken by a Clinical Psychologist Supervisor or above (who may be, but need not be, your supervisor). The audit must be of records made by you personally, include at least three randomly selected clinical sessions in that month, and include all the patients seen at those clinical sessions. The outcome of each audit is to be recorded in writing and should be directed towards assessing the adequacy, standard and timeliness of your record keeping.

10. You must send to the HCPC not less than 28 days before the review of this Order the following documents:

a. The Personal Development Plan required by condition 5.

b. The written summaries of the meetings required by condition 6.

c. The monthly reflective practice profiles required by condition 8.

d. The audit reports required by condition 9.

Notes

Conduct and Competence Final (consent) hearing took place at the HCPC, London on Wednesday 8 July 2015.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Colin Thomas

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/07/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice