Elisabeth Brealey

Profession: Biomedical scientist

Registration Number: BS63440

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 21/04/2016 End: 12:00 21/04/2015

Location: Park Plaza Cardiff, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, CF10 3AL

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

Allegations as amended:
During the course of your employment as a Biomedical Scientist for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, you:

1. Posted comments on the website Facebook, namely:
a. On 19 May 2011, you stated, 'Is so frustrated with the bloody NHS monkey suits.'
b. On 16 September 2013, you stated:
i. ‘ Lost: my enthusiasm and motivation regarding my job. If found feel free to not give it back’
ii. ‘The place is awful and not likely to get better.’
c. On 17 September 2013, you stated, ‘My motivation is beyond gone for work. I’m sick of giving and getting nothing back’.
d. On 09 October 2013, you stated ‘I’ve decided I really want to work in Chester zoo’s lab. #fedupofthenhs’.
e. On 19 December 2013, you stated, ‘Sick of working my ass off and not being able to afford even the bloody basics while some people sit on their arses and afford holidays and drive brand new cars.’
f. On 20 January 2014, you stated:
i. ‘Am sick of spending all my days off doing bloody work for a job that doesn’t even pay the bills anymore. Sick of being crapped on by Pathology at Betsi cods wallops’.
ii. ‘Tempted to go off sick but need to be in to get stuff signed’.
iii. ‘I just hope they do a better with the newbies’.
iv. ‘Yeah pansies fault but the buck stops with me no so not getting it down will be down to me’.
v. ‘Mr Y he was less that useless I’ve been asking for someone else for 2 years but only got one when Andy retired so have to do the entire thing in 2 years.'
g. On 07 April 2014, you stated:
i. ‘The most evil people are not locked up in prison they work for the NHS Ethics Committee’
ii. ‘they are like lovely grannies compared to NHS. Its not like I wanted babies blood. Oh no wait, I do.’
2. The matters described in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct.
3. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired

Finding

Preliminary Matters:
Service of Notice of Hearing:
1. The Registrant confirmed that she had received the Notice of Hearing in good time and that it clearly contained the date, time and venue of today’s hearing. The Panel was satisfied that she had been properly served.
Background:
2. At the relevant time, the Registrant was employed as a Band 6 Biomedical Scientist (BMS) in the Blood Sciences of the pathology department in at the Betsi Cadwaladr University (BCU). A colleague of the Registrant who worked in Blood Sciences, saw some comments made by the Registrant on her “Facebook” page and provided a printout of them to CW, the interim Blood Sciences manager. The messages were posted on 20 January 2014.
3. As a result of this, there was a meeting with the Registrant soon after during which she was told not to make any further Facebook posts about BCU. CW asked SJ to review the Registrant’s Facebook page. Over the course of the investigation additional Facebook posts made by the Registrant on 7 April 2014 were identified, plus some older Facebook posts made by the Registrant. She admits that the posts were made by her.
4. At the Final Hearing, the Registrant admitted all the above particulars at the start of proceedings.
5. The Panel at the Final Hearing determined that only Particulars 1(d), 1(f)(i), 1(f)(iii), 1(f)(v), 1(g)(i), 1(g)(ii) were serious enough to amount to misconduct and that the Registrant’s behaviour in respect of those Particulars could be described as conduct which would be regarded as disgraceful by fellow practitioners.
6. That Panel also determined that the Registrant had not put service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the past and is not liable to do so in the future. It determined that the Registrant had brought the profession into disrepute and breached a fundamental tenet of the profession in the past.
7. That Panel also took into consideration the fact that, notwithstanding the Registrant having been warned to be more considered in her use of Facebook, she made further posts on 7 April 2014. That Panel determined that the Registrant had demonstrated partial insight only and that there was a risk of repetition. It accordingly found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired.
8. In finding the Registrant’s fitness to practice to be impaired, that Panel determined that there are no public protection issues but that the Registrant was liable to bring the profession into disrepute and breach a fundamental tenet of the profession in the future.
9. That Panel determined that the appropriate and proportionate sanction to be imposed was a Conditions of Practice Order for a period of six months. The conditions imposed upon the Registrant’s practice were as follows:
1. To take guidance on the safe and appropriate use of social media and to read relevant guidance, including that of the HCPC.
2. To produce, at least 14 days in advance of the interim review hearing, a reflective piece based on an accredited model, demonstrating how you have assimilated the guidance regarding safe and appropriate use of social media.
3. 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 undertake professional work;
(b) Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and
(c) Any prospective employer (at the time of your application).
10. Mr Williams set out the background of the case to the Panel. He pointed out that the previous Panel determined that the Registrant had demonstrated partial insight only, and that there was a risk of repetition at that time. He submitted that today, the Panel should be concerned with whether the Registrant can demonstrate sufficient insight such that the risk of repetition is ameliorated.
11. The Registrant provided the Panel with a Reflective Learning Statement dated April 2016. She also submitted a note of the training on the Code of Conduct that she has received from her line manager.
12. The Registrant gave evidence on oath. In summary she told the Panel:
(a) About her reflection on her misconduct and how she has learnt, albeit the hard way, about the perils of the use of Social Media;
(b) She no longer has a Facebook account, although she does maintain a Twitter account for professional purposes in order to follow the ‘tweets’ issued by the various biomedical companies, her employers and other related professional bodies;
(c) With regard to her Twitter account, she is very conscious about her usage and always considers the possible ramifications if she were to ‘like’ or ‘repost’ a ‘tweet’.
(d) How she has implemented coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses at work, particularly if faced with a situation again where line management support was absent;
(e) She had apologised to colleagues on a personal level for her misconduct;
(f) She now tells other colleagues about the perils of putting information on social media that could impact the public’s perception of the person, the organisation and/or the profession
13. The Registrant told the Panel that, on reflection, she believes that even the smaller comments of which the previous Panel found did not amount to misconduct, were inappropriate. She told the Panel that she would never repeat her misconduct again as she now thinks before she using social media.
Decision:
14. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant to determine if she is fit to return to unrestricted practice. Its role is not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations nor is it to go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment.
15. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel might find the questions formulated in the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant (2011) EWHC 927 (Admin) of some assistance, albeit slightly modified for these proceedings:
‘Does the evidence before the Panel today show that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired in the sense that she:
a) is liable in the future to act so as to put a service user at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or
b) is liable in the future to bring the Biomedical Science profession into disrepute; and/or
c) is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the profession; and/or
16. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired all the options under Article 30 of the 2001 Order could be exercised by the Panel. He advised the Panel that it should bear in mind the principle of fairness and proportionality and have regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy document issued by the HCPC. He reminded the Panel that any order that it makes under Article 30 should not be punitive in purpose, and that it should be the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public and/or is otherwise in the public interest.
17. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration the oral testimony of the Registrant, the documentation before it, and the submissions of both parties. In particular it noted the following factors:
a) This is a case of misconduct and there is no suggestion that the Registrant lacked the requisite competence to carry out the role of a Biomedical Scientist. Hence this is a case where the Registrant’s insight is of greater importance.
b) The engagement of the Registrant with the process and the steps taken to address her understanding of a professional’s use of social media.
c) The Registrant’s reflective piece which the Panel determined demonstrates her commitment to the profession and to remaining in the profession:
18. Taking all of the above into consideration, the Panel determined that the Registrant has now demonstrated full insight. At the previous hearing the Panel determined that she demonstrated partial insight only. She has expressed remorse and has put her misconduct into context and accepted full responsibility.
19. The Registrant has taken action to address her understanding of the usage of social media. Whilst sanctions are not to be punitive in nature, the Registrant has clearly learnt the lesson intended by the public component for the sanction being imposed at the original hearing.
20. The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Registrant is not liable in future to put the public at risk of harm, nor is she liable in future to bring the profession into disrepute, nor is she liable to breach a fundamental tenet of the profession.
21. The Panel is also satisfied that the public interest has been satisfied in that the Registrant has been held to account, that proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations, would countenance the Registrant’s return to practice to continue her service to the public.
22. Therefore the Panel determines that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired.
23. In light of the Panel’s determination, it is exercising its power to review the Order under Article 30(2) and 30(4) and revokes the Order with immediate effect.

Order

Order: The Order is revoked with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Elisabeth Brealey

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
21/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
22/10/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice