Mrs Jean Dorrington

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT52689

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 18/08/2016 End: 16:00 18/08/2016

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

Whilst employed as an Occupational Therapist for Norfolk County Council;

 

1. In relation to Service User A whom you knew in a personal capacity you:

a. On or around 19 April 2011 requested a bath hoist;

b. On or around 17 June 2011 performed an assessment of her need for adaptions;

c. On or around 22 June 2011 requested a riser recliner chair;

d. On or around 1 July 2011 made a recommendation for a Disabled Facilities Grant to replace a bath with "wet room facilities";

e. On or around 28 October 2011 requested a static shower chair;

f. On or around 2 January 2013 authorised a request for a lower level shower;

 

2. In relation to Service User B whom you knew in a personal capacity you:

a. On or around 19 December 2013 ordered a trolley and/or a riser recliner chair;

b. On or around 11 March 2014 performed an assessment of her need for adaptions;

c. On or around 21 March 2014 requested a level access shower;

 

3. Your records in relation to the requests made for Service Users A and B were inadequate in that they did not evidence whether and/or why the adaptions were required.

 

4. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 and 2 were inappropriate given your personal relationship with Service User A and B.

 

5. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 and 2 were dishonest.

 

6. The matters as described in paragraphs 1 - 5 constitute misconduct.

 

7. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:
Service of Notice and Proceeding in the Registrant’s Absence

1. The HCPC produced evidence that Notice of today’s hearing had been effected by way of use of the appropriate postal service; the letter having been sent in sufficient time in advance of the hearing to the Registrant’s address shown on the HCPC’s Register.  The Notice was sent by post and also by email.

2. The Legal Assessor emphasised the fact that at this stage the HCPC had to provide evidence of postage and it did not have to show receipt. The Panel accepted that the HCPC had discharged its responsibilities in bringing this matter to the Registrant’s attention.

3. The Panel noted from an email, dated 1 August 2016 from the Registrant to the HCPC that the Registrant was aware of today’s hearing, she had not sought an adjournment and that she would not be attending. The Panel appreciated that in a hearing of this nature the Registrant’s interest in the matter proceeding in her absence coincided with the public interest in this hearing going forward today without delay or further cost.

4. The Panel received the HCPC’s representations that this matter should be heard today and accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice on the issues to be considered before reaching that decision. Given the Registrant’s representations in her email, the Registrant’s interest in this matter proceeding, and the public interest in there being no unnecessary delay, the Panel decided that it would proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background:

5. The Registrant is an Occupational Therapist registered with the HCPC.

6. The Panel had before it a statement prepared in anticipation of a Final Hearing from the person who had undertaken the Internal Investigation which had led to the referral to the HCPC. This gave information that set out the background to the way in which the matter and concerns identified in the Allegation below had come to the attention of the Registrant’s then employer.

7. Following a referral from Norfolk County Council a Panel of the HCPC’s Investigating Committee (ICP) on 15 September 2015 decided that there was a case for the Registrant to answer in respect of the following Allegation:

Whilst employed as an Occupational Therapist for Norfolk County Council:

1. In relation to Service User A, whom you knew in a personal capacity, you:

a. On or around 19 April 2011 requested a bath hoist;

b. On or around 17 June 2011 performed an assessment of her need for adaptions;

c. On or around 22 June 2011 requested a rise recliner chair;

d. On or around 1 July 2011 made a recommendation for a Disabled Facilities Grant to replace a bath with ‘wet room facilities’;

e. On or around 28 October 2011 requested a static shower chair;

f. On or around 2 January 2013 authorised a request for a lower level shower.

2. In relation to Service User B, whom you knew in a personal capacity, you:

a. On or around 19 December 2013 ordered a trolley and/or a riser recliner chair;

b. On or around 11 March 2014 performed an assessment of her need for adaptions;

c. On or around 21 March 2014 requested a level access shower.

3. Your records in relation to the requests made for Service Users A and B were inadequate in that they did not evidence whether and/or why the adaptions were required.

4. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 and 2 were inappropriate given your personal relationship with Service User A and B.

5. Your actions as described in paragraphs 1 and 2 were dishonest.

6. The matters as described in paragraphs 1-5 constitute misconduct.

7. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

8. Further contact between the HCPC and the Registrant identified the Registrant’s wish to leave the Register. In support of her wish for the HCPC process to come to an end she made reference to the fact that she was of retirement age and she had no wish to return to Occupational Therapy practice.

Application and Decision:

9. The process of disposing of a case by way of consent is an extra-statutory means of concluding a matter.  However, before agreeing to such a course the Panel has to remind itself that it has to be certain that by adopting this process there is the appropriate level of public protection and that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. 

10. Article 11(3) of the 2001 Order and Rule 12(3) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Registration and Fees) Rules 2003 prevent a registrant from seeking to resign from the Register whilst the registrant is the subject of an allegation.

11. The Guidance issued by the Council states:
In cases where the HCPC is satisfied that it would be adequately protecting the public if the Registrant was permitted to resign from the Register it may enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement allowing the Registrant to do so, but on similar terms to those which would apply if the Registrant had been struck off.

12. If the Panel is not satisfied that the above criteria have been met it appreciates that it has the ability to reject the proposal and allow the matter to proceed to a full Final Hearing.

13. The Panel heard from the HCPC that in its view this measure will ensure service user protection.  The wider public interest in this matter has been addressed and satisfied by the process of investigation. It was submitted that although there was an allegation of dishonesty in the particular circumstances of this case it could be classified as low level. It was therefore argued that the public interest in a public hearing was not required in such an instance. Further, the fact that a striking-off order may not have been the level of sanction imposed at a Final Hearing was not a primary consideration in a case where the Registrant had made a conscious and informed decision to seek removal.

14. The Panel noted the points made by the Registrant in her various communications with the HCPC. It noted in particular that from the outset of the internal investigation the Registrant had acknowledged and accepted the fact of her actions and the evidence of her poor judgment in these instances.

15. The Panel had the ICP decision, the statement of the person who had undertaken the internal investigation and the various documents in which the Registrant admitted her actions. The Panel considered the Registrant’s admissions and expressions of regret and apology to be genuine. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s actions had initially been well-motivated however they demonstrated poor judgment. Whilst the incidents had occurred over a relatively long period of time they related to only two service users.  The Registrant had not made any personal financial gain from her actions. The Panel took this matter into consideration in its decision-making process.  The Panel concluded that the information before it supported a view that the matters alleged in the Allegation were well-founded and there had been full acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

16. The Panel is satisfied that the Voluntary Removal Agreement will provide continued service user protection in that the Registrant will not be able to practise.  The Panel considered that the wider public interest has been appropriately dealt with and would not be affected by this matter not being publicly scrutinised at a Final Hearing. In this regard the Panel noted that the HCPC has reserved the right to publicise the terms of the agreement. Further the Registrant wishes to retire from practice and there will be a saving of public funds through adoption of the process of voluntary removal. The Panel is of the view that given that the dishonesty identified is at the lower end of the scale, and not so deplorable as to require the ultimate sanction of removal, the acceptance of a measure equivalent to strike-off will not be seen by the public as the Registrant taking an easy way to leave past events behind. The Registrant has stated that her best interest is served by her removal. 

17. The Panel has concluded that in all the circumstances of this case the approval of the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement is the proportionate and appropriate course of action in this matter.  

18. The Panel notes the terms of the Voluntary Removal Agreement that is before it and the fact that it has been signed by both parties.  Accordingly, the Chair of the Panel has, on behalf of the Panel, signed the Notice of Discontinuance and Voluntary Removal from the Register which is required as a consequence of the Consent to the Voluntary Removal Agreement. A Copy of the signed Order has been dated today.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Ms Jean Dorrington from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

 

If the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time, the application would be treated as if the registrant had been struck off as a result of that allegation.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Jean Dorrington

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
18/08/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed