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1. The Panel found that there was good service of notice of the hearing by a letter dated 02 September 2015.
2. The Panel considered whether to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel applied the guidance in the HCPC Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”. The Panel was provided with a file note dated 07 September 2015 of a telephone conversation between the Registrant and an HCPC case manager. The Registrant stated that she would not attend today’s hearing. In an e-mail dated 07 September 2015 she confirmed that she would not attend and that she was happy for the hearing to go ahead. The Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant on the ground that she has chosen not to attend the hearing, there would be no purpose in an adjournment, and it was in the public interest to proceed with the hearing.
3. Ms Aumeerally applied for the hearing to be heard in private on the ground that the case related to the Registrant’s health. Having taken into account the relevant Practice Note and the advice of the Legal Assessor the Panel decided that the entire hearing should be in private.
4. The Registrant was employed as a Podiatrist/Chiropodist by the Oxfordshire Health NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) from about 2003. Until 2009 she was considered to be a competent and experienced clinician and was a well-regarded employee. From May 2009 the Trust had ongoing and escalating concerns about the Registrant’s health and how this was adversely affecting her practice. These concerns were initially managed informally by the Trust’s performance procedures, which commenced in September 2010. As a result of subsequent incidents, including two clinical incidents and record keeping concerns, the proceedings moved to a formal stage of the Capability Policy, which resulted in the Registrant’s dismissal from the Trust’s employment on the ground of ill health. The Trust referred the matter to the HCPC on 22 July 2011. During the course of the investigation the HCPC commissioned an expert report on the Registrant’s health.
5. At a Final Hearing on 07 October 2013 a Panel of the Health Committee found that there was no evidence that the Registrant had sought to address her health problem or that she had addressed her condition in any way. There was therefore a significant risk of repetition and that service users would be placed at risk. The Final Hearing Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired in that she suffers from a health condition and imposed a 12 month Suspension Order.
6. At the first review hearing on 30 September 2014 the Panel noted that there was no new information and that the Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC at all over the past twelve months. That Panel stated that today’s Panel may be assisted by a further medical report as to the Registrant’s condition.
7. The Panel was provided with a file note recording a summary of a telephone conversation between Ms Aumeerally and the Registrant on 29 September 2015. Ms Aumeerally drew the Registrant’s attention to the Panel’s decision on 30 September 2014 and the statement that the reviewing panel would be assisted by a further psychiatric report as to her condition and evidence as to her progress and rehabilitation. In response the Registrant stated that she had a report dated 15 June 2015 and that she did not wish to submit this report to the Panel because she has no intention of practising as a Podiatrist and is content for the Suspension Order to remain in place.
8. There was a discussion between Ms Aumeerally and the Registrant about the possibility that the Registrant might contact her case manager about a Voluntary Removal Agreement.
9. The Panel heard the submission from Ms Aumeerally. Ms Aumeerally submitted that a Suspension Order remains appropriate and that the Panel should extend the Suspension Order for a further three months.
10. The Panel noted that the Registrant has had the opportunity to submit information to the Panel, but has decided not to do so. The Panel therefore has no evidence that anything has changed in the Registrant’s circumstances since the last review. There is no evidence of rehabilitation and the information provided to the Panel is that the Registrant does not wish to practise as a Podiatrist. In the absence of any new evidence, the Panel decided that the Registrant presents the same risks to the public as were identified at the Final Hearing. There is a significant risk of repetition of her clinical and record keeping failings which would place Service Users at risk.
11. Having regard to the public component of impairment, the Panel would be failing in its duty to protect the public and maintain proper standards of conduct were it to permit the Registrant to practise without restriction. Public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.
12. The Panel considered carefully the full range of sanctions available, noting that the sanction of striking off is not available because the Registrant has not been continuously suspended or subject to a conditions of practice order for two years at today’s date. In considering the appropriate and proportionate sanction the Panel considered the Registrant’s interests, but noted that she is content for the Suspension Order to remain in place. The Panel decided that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate because the Registrant has not demonstrated that she has taken any steps to address her health issues.
13. The Panel decided that an extension of the Suspension Order is appropriate and proportionate. The Panel considered carefully the appropriate length of the Suspension Order and Ms Aumeerally’s submissions. The Panel decided that the Order should be for a three month period. There was no reason for a longer period of suspension because there is nothing which suggests that the Registrant needs more time to provide medical evidence or evidence of progress and rehabilitation.
14. This Order will be reviewed before its expiry and a Reviewing Panel may be assisted by information from the Registrant on her progress and rehabilitation.
The Order will be reviewed before its expiry.
History of Hearings for Sally Pringle
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|07/01/2016||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|
|01/10/2015||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|