Mr Noel Mason

Profession: Hearing aid dispenser

Registration Number: HAD00943

Hearing Type: Unknown

Date and Time of hearing: 08:00 08/10/2015 End: 16:00 08/10/2015

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Restored

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Allegation

During the course of your practise at the Hearing Company of Cyprus, as a Hearing Aid Dispenser, in 2008, in respect of client MK, you:-

1. Gave incorrect advice in respect of volume control on Phonak hearing aids;

2. Recommended Puretone hearing aids which was poor advice;

3. Failed to program hearing aids at fitting.

4. Breached Code 1 (a) or 3 of the Hearing Aid Council Code of Practice (2008);

5. The matters set out in paragraphs 1-4 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary matters:
1. The Registrant confirmed that he had received the HCPC bundle of documents for the hearing. He also confirmed that his two character witnesses, NS, who is currently the Registrant’s supervising Audiologist, and SP, Clinical Director of the Hearing Company in New Zealand, which currently employs the Registrant, were available to give evidence by telephone, if required.

Background
2. The Registrant was registered as a Hearing Aid Dispenser in 1998. In 2008 the Registrant was practising as a Hearing Aid Dispenser in Cyprus in his own practice under the name of the Hearing Company of Cyprus. In July 2008 the Registrant was consulted by MK, aged eighty-three, who needed replacement hearing aids.  MK was at the time resident in France but stated that she was intending to move to the United States of America. She asked the Registrant to supply her with hearing aids that could be re-programmed in both France and the United States. The Registrant recommended PureTone Models. MK collected the hearing aids from the Registrant on 8 August 2008, when he advised her that they should be worn for a few weeks, after which they should be adjusted as necessary. MK found the aids to be unsuitable; she also found on her return to France that the aids could not be re-programmed there. She asked the Registrant to replace the aids with Phonak aids which she had previously used. The Registrant recommended Phonak MAXX aids in order to provide volume controls, which MK requested. In November 2008, MK received the replacement Phonak aids in France, where she was living. The Registrant did not fit the aids, or see MK wearing them or make arrangements for another audiologist to carry out the fitting. MK found the replacement aids to be unusable, as they produced a loud noise and continuous whistling.
3. The substantive hearing of this case took place before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 16 September 2010, when the Registrant did not attend and was not represented. The hearing proceeded in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel found the facts proved, that the proven facts constituted misconduct and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was currently impaired by reason of that misconduct.
4. In considering what sanction to impose, that Panel concluded that the Registrant’s misconduct was serious and deliberate and amounted to an abuse of trust. In the absence of any information from the Registrant, the Panel concluded that the only appropriate sanction was a Striking Off order.
Decision
5. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle of documents which included those documents which were before the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 16 September 2010. In addition the Panel was provided with written representations, certificates relating to the Registrant’s practice and training as an Audiologist, his record of Continuing Professional Development and testimonials from his professional colleagues with whom he currently works.
6. The Panel heard oral evidence from the Registrant by telephone and from NS, his supervising Audiologist, by telephone.
7. The Panel carefully considered the submissions of Ms Gustave for the HCPC and the Registrant. The Panel took into account the HCPC Practice Note on Restoration to the Register and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
8. The Panel found the Registrant to be genuine and credible and was favourably impressed by his evidence.
9. The Panel also accepted the evidence of NS and took into account the written testimonial of SP.
10. With regard to the original allegations, the Registrant acknowledged that he would not in future prescribe hearing aids for a client whose treatment he was not able to follow through to a satisfactory conclusion. He said that he would now act differently, should similar circumstances arise, and recognised that there is a key issue in the aftercare service, which he did not provide to the service user at that time. He clearly accepted the importance in his practice of focusing on the needs of the individual service user and implementing appropriate procedures to address those needs. He stated that he had learned from this incident and assured the Panel that it would not happen again. The Panel considered that the Registrant had acquired insight into his past failures in practice and concluded that the risk of repetition was extremely low.
11. The Panel accepted the Registrant’s explanation for his previous failure to engage with the HCPC and his non-attendance at the hearing on 16 September 2010, as being due to the fact that he had been moving address in rural areas, where the postal service was unreliable and he had therefore been unaware of that hearing.
12. It was relevant to the original Striking Off order that the Panel on that occasion did not have the benefit of hearing from the Registrant or receiving any information relating to his practice since 2008.
13. By contrast, the Panel today was provided with considerable information relevant to Registrant’s application for restoration to the register.
14. Since his removal from the register in 2010, the Registrant has practised in another jurisdiction and has improved his practice considerably, as evidenced by his training and CPD records and confirmed by his two referees. The Registrant now uses verification and outcome measures habitually as part of his practice, which would avoid repetition of the failures in his practice which occurred when treating MK.
15. The Panel further took into account that the matters to which this case relates took place in 2008, since when there has been no record of any similar incident or complaints about the Registrant’s clinical practice in New Zealand, where he is well regarded by his professional colleagues. His supervising Audiologist, NS, confirmed to the Panel that he would have no concerns about the Registrant returning to autonomous practice.
16. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the Registrant meets the general requirements for registration and that he is now a fit and proper person to practise as a Hearing Aid Dispenser, having regard to the particular circumstances that led to his being struck off in September 2010.

Order

Order:
The Registrar is directed to restore Noel Robert James Mason to the Hearing Aid Dispenser Part of the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

This Restoration Hearing was held at Park House on 8 October 2015.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Noel Mason

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/10/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Unknown Restored