Leeto B Thale
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During the course of your employment as a Podiatrist at Homerton Hospital University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, you:
1. On 04 April 2011, you falsified clinical records whilst treating a diabetic patient, in that you:
a) Estimated the results of a Diabetic Foot Assessment for the patient; and
b) Allocated a risk category to the patient based on the estimated results of the Diabetic Foot Assessment.
2. On 04 April 2011, you failed to complete the appropriate clinical pathway, after recording that the patient was suffering from ‘rest pain’ on Diabetic Foot Assessment.
3. Your actions as set out in paragraph 1 were dishonest.
4. The matter set out in paragraphs 1 – 3 constitute as misconduct and/or lack of competence.
5. By reason of that misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.
At the substantive hearing the Panel found particulars 1a), 1b), 2 and 3 above proved. The Panel found the proven matters to amount to misconduct and the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired. A Suspension Order for a period of 12 months was imposed.
1. The Panel took account of Rule 6(2) of the The Health and Care Professions Council (CONDUCT AND COMPETENCE COMMITTEE) (PROCEDURE) RULES 2003 which require that the Notice of hearing should be sent to the Registrant at least 28 days before the hearing. The Panel was aware that written Notice of these proceedings was posted to the Registrant at his registered address by first class post on 17 September 2015. It was also emailed to his registered email address on 17 September 2015. The Panel was shown documents which established both the fact of the service and the identity of the Registrant’s registered address. The Panel determined that Notice of this hearing had been properly served in accordance with the relevant rules.
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
2. Ms Willoughby drew the Panel’s attention to correspondence dated 14 October 2015. This correspondence included:
· An email sent by Ms Willoughby to the Registrant informing him of the date, time and venue of the hearing and asking the Registrant if he could confirm whether he was to attend the hearing today.
· A file note written by Ms Willoughby which is a record of a voicemail left by the Registrant between 12.30pm and 1.30pm in which he stated he did not know that the hearing was taking place and that he may need a postponement as he had been unable to obtain representation for the hearing, and;
· An email from the Registrant sent at 4.48pm in which he requested a postponement of the hearing in order to prepare for the hearing.
3. Ms Willoughby also informed the Panel that she had attempted to contact the Registrant numerous times by telephone since the voicemail of 14 October 2015, including on the morning of this hearing, and that there was no answer by the Registrant to these telephone calls, despite his reported request that he should be called back.
4. In addition, the Panel had sight of correspondence in relation to the review hearing of October 2014 in which the Registrant also asked for an adjournment of that review hearing, six days before the due date, claiming that he was “without legal representation”.
5. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took account of the HCPC Practice Note on “Postponement and Adjournment of Proceedings”.
6. The Panel was aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one to be taken with great caution and has paid careful attention to the correspondence of the 14 October 2015.
7. The Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant and that it was not appropriate to grant an adjournment of the hearing today. The reasons are as follows:
· Notice of this hearing has been properly served;
· The Registrant has not stated that he cannot attend this hearing and did in fact attend the hearings which took place on 18 – 19 October 2012 and on 19 September 2013. He was unrepresented at the substantive hearing in 2012 and prior to the review hearing of 19 September 2013 he requested an adjournment to seek legal representation, which he later withdrew. Since then, he declined to attend the more recent review hearings on 20 February 2014 and 9 October 2014;
· The Registrant is based in London and has not asserted any practical difficulties which prevent him from attending today;
· The Registrant has not provided any information as to the steps that he has taken to obtain representation and has had ample time in which to seek such representation;
· The Registrant has not provided any information to support his application for an adjournment;
· There is little reason to suppose that if an adjournment was granted the Registrant or his representative would in fact attend the resumed hearing;
· There is a public interest in proceeding with this hearing, which is a mandatory review hearing. The existing Suspension Order will expire on 15 November 2015, at which point the Registrant would be free to resume unrestricted practice. This would be contrary to the public interest as the Registrant may still present a risk to the public.
8. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that it was fair and appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
9. On 19 October 2012, the Panel at the final hearing of the Conduct and Competence Committee determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practice was impaired by reason of misconduct arising from the dishonest falsification of clinical records and failure to act in the best interests of a patient. In so doing, the Registrant compromised the patient’s safety. The Registrant’s registration was suspended for 12 months.
10. The Registrant attended the review on 19 September 2013 and provided some oral information which indicated that he wished to return to practice. The Panel at that review concluded, in the light of the Registrant’s assertion that he had developed insight and remorse, that there was a possibility of him resuming practice in the future. However, there was no documentary evidence to support the representations he made to the Panel at that time concerning his character and his maintenance of professional knowledge. The Panel also advised the Registrant to provide to the next review hearing information about his state of health from his GP, references in support of his character and honesty and documents relating to his Continuous Professional Development. The Panel determined that the period of suspension should be extended for 12 months and the decision set out the information which may assist the reviewing Panel.
11. The Registrant did not attend the review hearing of 20 February 2014. That Panel concluded that the Suspension Order should be continued. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not provided any of the information suggested by the previous Panel and noted that it “has no knowledge of any attempts made by the Registrant to maintain his expertise or to provide references with regard to his character and honesty”.
12. The Registrant did not attend the review hearing of 9 October 2014 and that Panel concluded that the Suspension Order should continue for a further 12 months. That Panel noted that there had been recent engagement by the Registrant, in that three days before the hearing he requested a postponement as he was without legal representation. The application for a postponement was declined. The Panel also noted that “It would be of great assistance to the reviewing Panel if the Registrant was able to attend the hearing in person. It would be very helpful to the Panel if, at that review, the Registrant was able to produce the material which was identified in the determination made on 19 September 2013.”
13. The Panel was aware that it had all the powers that are set out in Article 30(1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 (the Order) and which are fully summarised in the letter written to the Registrant by the HCPC on 17 September 2015.
14. The Panel was aware that the process under Article 30 of the Order was one of review and not one of appeal and that its function was to determine whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise was still impaired and, if so, what was the appropriate and proportionate sanction / outcome so as to protect the public and to safeguard the public interest.
15. Ms Willoughby invited the Panel to consider that the appropriate course of action was to strike the Registrant from the Register.
16. There were no submissions on this subject from the Registrant.
17. The Panel noted that the Registrant has been suspended from practising his profession for a period of three years. It is not in possession of any information from him as to what he has been doing in the meantime. He has failed to avail himself of the many opportunities granted to him to inform the HCPC about this. In three years he has been unable to demonstrate that the failings identified by the final hearing Panel have been remediated. Additionally, this Panel has no knowledge of the Registrant’s current health, Continuous Professional Development or employment. The Panel therefore finds that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired.
18. The Panel considered whether a continuation of the Suspension Order was appropriate, but could not find any evidence that would suggest that the Registrant would engage meaningfully or remediate the failings in his practice.
19. In all these circumstances, the Panel finds that the only appropriate and proportionate order it can make today is to strike his name from the register.
That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Leeto B Thale from the Register on the date this order comes into effect
History of Hearings for Leeto B Thale
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|15/10/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|