Mrs Susan C Jacquens

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT50366

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 19/12/2016 End: 17:00 19/12/2016

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

 

During the course of your employment as an occupational therapist at Bristol Community Health between 3 June 2013 until 29 September 2014:

 

1. You did not carry out an appropriate assessment of:

a) Service User B

b) Service User D

 

2. You did not record adequately your assessment and / or clinical reasoning without the support of a supervisor In the following cases:

a) Service User A

b) Service User B

c) Service User D

 

3. In relation to service user D:

a) You attempted to transfer Service User D when it was not safe to do so and/ or he was unprepared

b) You attempted to transfer Service User D into a wheelchair without putting a pressure relieving cushion In place on the wheelchair despite there being a tissue viability risk.

 

4. Your case note for service user X was inadequate In that you:

a) did not document consent

b) did not document clinical reasoning In relation to a planned provision for a bath lift

 

5. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 and 5 above constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service of Notice

1. The HCPC produced evidence that letter of Notice, dated 26 September 2016 and containing the correct and full information relating to today’s hearing, had been sent by the appropriate postal service and had been sent in sufficient time in advance of the hearing to the Registrant’s address shown on the HCPC’s Register.  There was evidence that the letter had been sent to the Registrant at the address shown for her on the Register. The Notice was also sent to the Registrant 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 and there had been good service.

Proceeding in the Registrant’s absence

3. The Panel noted, from an attendance note of a telephone conversation with the Registrant on 26 September 2016, that the Registrant was aware of today’s hearing and had informed the HCPC that she would not be attending the hearing. The HCPC highlighted the fact that the Registrant had not sought an adjournment and that, given the nature of today’s hearing, she was unlikely to attend. There was no information from her to indicate that she would attend in the future and, in all the circumstances, it was reasonable to conclude that she had voluntarily absented herself.

4. 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.

5. The Panel noted 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. The Panel decided that given the Registrant’s stated position and her interest in this matter proceeding and the public interest in there being no unnecessary delay, the Panel would proceed.

Background

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

7. The Panel had before it the documentation which had been supplied to the HCPC by the Registrant and her former employer.

8. Following a self-referral from the Registrant on 8 October 2014 a Panel of the HCPC’s Investigating Committee (ICP) had decided on 20 July 2016 had decided that there was a case to answer. The Allegation that the Registrant would face at a final hearing if this matter were not concluded today by way of agreement, identified failure to undertake appropriate clinical assessments, poor record-keeping and unsafe transfers. It was alleged that the evidence produced would support a finding of either misconduct and/or lack of competence.

9. 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, in addition to the impact this HCPC process had upon her, she acknowledged that her personal situation and the professional pressures of working within a professional environment as a qualified practitioner had been detrimental to her general well-being. She was currently working in an Occupational Therapy Assistant capacity which did not require her registration with the HCPC.

Application and Decision

10. 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 must 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. 

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

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. The Panel heard from the HCPC that, in its view, this measure will ensure service user protection.  It was submitted that the wider public interest in this matter has been addressed and satisfied by the process of investigation. Accepting the application for a Voluntary Removal Agreement to be implemented would save the time, energies and expense involved with an uncontested Final Hearing of this matter.

15. 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. The fact that she had made the decision to self-refer this matter showed the degree of understanding and acceptance she had of her professional failings.

16. In addition to the admission of the Registrant the Panel had the ICP decision and the information supplied by the Registrant’s previous employer who had taken the step of dismissing the Registrant for her professional failings. The Panel considered the Registrant’s admissions and expressions of regret and apology to be genuine and showed a level of insight into her professional failings. The Panel took all these matters into consideration in its decision-making process. 

17. 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 which would support a finding of misconduct or lack of competence. Whilst there had been some remediation in terms of working as an assistant and an expression of remorse and apology there is no evidence before this Panel that would support it concluding that a Final Hearing Panel would not find current impairment of the Registrant’s fitness to practise.

18. 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.

19. The Panel noted that whilst the Registrant had not availed herself of independent legal representation she had been given full information by the HCPC on which to take an informed view. In particular she had been given a copy of the relevant Practice Note and the terms of the Voluntary Removal Agreement were explicit in setting out the impact of signing the agreement. The Panel also noted that the Registrant had stated that her general wellbeing had been adversely affected by the pressures required of a qualified practitioner and that these, coupled with personal pressures, had led to her considered decision to focus on her young family and to continue working at an unqualified level in the future. She had also stated that further consideration of this matter was detrimental to her ability to move forward and put these issues behind her. In addition the Registrant has acknowledged her acceptance of this means of disposal by signing and returning the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

20. The Panel gave consideration to the fact that, if this matter went to a final hearing and a lack of competence was found, the power of strike off was not open to a Panel. It decided that, notwithstanding this, it was, in view of the totality of the information before it, and the Registrant’s statements relating to her wellbeing and abilities, also in her interest that she be removed from the Register at this time. 

21. The Panel has therefore 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.  

22. 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 and dated the attached Consent Order which will take immediate effect. The Chair has also signed the Notice of Discontinuance which is required as a consequence of the Consent to the Voluntary Removal Agreement. Copies of both have been dated today.

Order

The Panel granted the HCPC application to discontinue proceedings.

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 Susan C Jacquens

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
19/12/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed