Miss Anamaria Douglas

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL00452

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 11:00 14/01/2016 End: 14:00 14/01/2016

Location: Clayton Hotel Belfast, 22 Ormeau Avenue, Belfast BT2 8HS

Panel: Health Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Your fitness to practise as an Educational Psychologist is impaired by reason of your health.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:
Service

1. The Panel was informed that the notice of hearing was sent to the Registrant’s address, as it appears on the register, on 11 December 2015. The Panel was satisfied that good service had been effected in accordance with Rule 13  HCPC  (Health Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (‘the Rules’)  and it was satisfied that all reasonable steps had been taken by the HCPC to inform the Registrant of today’s proceedings.

Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant:

2. Mr Doyle, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that in accordance with Rule 11 of ‘the Rules’ it was appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He stated that there had been no contact with the Registrant since 26 June 2015 and that the Registrant was unlikely to attend at a later date if the case was to be adjourned. He reminded the Panel that this is a statutory review pursuant to Article 30 Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, which must take place before the expiry of the order on 14 February 2016.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor that the decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant is a decision to be taken with the utmost care and caution. The Panel had regard to the relevant Practice Note including the criteria set out in R v Jones.

4. The Panel noted that there had been no communication from the Registrant about this hearing and that there had been no engagement by the Registrant with the HCPC since 26 June 2015. Further, the Registrant did not attend the final hearing on 15 July 2013 or the subsequent review hearings on 18 July 2014 and 3 July 2015 respectively.

5. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not sought an adjournment and there is a statutory requirement to review this order before 14 February 2016.  The Panel therefore determined that there would be no useful purpose in adjourning the matter and concluded that, in all the circumstances, it was in the public interest for this matter to proceed expeditiously today and that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself from the proceedings with little prospect that she will attend in the future. The Panel therefore determined to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Application for the Hearing to be Held in Private

6. The Panel determined that it would hear the case in private under Rule 10 (1)(a) of ‘the Rules’. In making this decision the Panel acknowledged that there is a presumption that all hearings will be held in public. The decision is to protect the private life of the Registrant which the Panel considers outweighs the public interest in this instance.

Background
7. The Registrant was employed by the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) as an Educational Psychologist. In this role she was responsible for undertaking psychological assessments on children and young people with special educational needs.

Order

Decision:
8. This is the third review of the substantive Suspension Order imposed on 18 July 2013, which came into effect on 15 August 2013 and which was extended on 18 July 2014 and again on 3 July 2015, to expire on 14 February 2016.


9. The Panel heard representations on behalf of the Council and accepted the advice of the legal assessor. The Panel noted the findings of the previous Panels that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her health.

10. In undertaking its task today, the Committee is not undertaking a rehearing of the matters which were brought against the Registrant, nor going behind previous findings. The Committee reminded itself that the decision as to what is the appropriate and proportionate disposal at this review hearing is a matter for its judgment alone, and noted the requirements indicated to the Registrant by the Committees on 18 July 2013 and 3 July 2015 respectively, regarding evidence to be produced for a future review hearing.


11. The Panel did not have any recent communications from the Registrant by way of an update to her circumstances. Indeed, there has been a complete and continuing lack of engagement with the fitness to practise process. There was no information from the Registrant in relation to any steps she had taken, since the imposition of the Suspension Order, to address her health and her fitness to practise.

12. The panel is aware that the purpose of any sanction is not to be punitive, though it may have a punitive effect. The Panel has borne in mind that its primary function at this stage is to protect the public, while reaching a proportionate sanction, taking into account the wider public interest and those of the Registrant. In so doing, the Panel has taken account of the Indicative Sanctions Guidance, applying it to the Registrant’s case on its own facts and circumstances.


13. The panel first considered taking no action, however it concluded that this would be inappropriate and would not be sufficient to protect service users or the reputation of the profession. The Panel considered that this was not an appropriate case for mediation and that a Caution Order would be insufficient.


14. The Panel was unable to formulate any workable or practicable conditions of practice, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement or whether she has maintained her professional knowledge and skills.


15. The Panel carefully considered whether to confirm or extend the current Suspension Order and was mindful that the purpose of such an order includes a Registrant being able to demonstrate that his/her fitness to practise is no longer impaired at the time the order is reviewed. The Panel noted that the Registrant has been given several opportunities to demonstrate that she has addressed the issues identified at the final hearing on 18th July 2013.  Due to the lack of response historically in these proceedings and therefore the Registrant’s apparent failure to address those issues, the Panel determined that there is no useful purpose served by the imposition of a further term of suspension.


16. The Panel noted that the Registrant has now been continuously suspended, for a period in excess of two years and accordingly considered that a Striking Off order is now appropriate. There has been a persistent failure to address the issues which gave rise to the Suspension Order. There is a complete lack of evidence of any type of remediation, reflection or insight on the part of the Registrant. In all of these circumstances, the Registrant presents a continuing risk to the public if she is allowed to practise in the future. The Registrant has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to resolve matters which suggests that any other sanction is now inappropriate. There is no information available that the Panel may look to, which may make it possible to construct a route back into practice for the Registrant. In these circumstances this order is now an appropriate and proportionate sanction which protects the public from the risks identified and also maintains public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.


Order: 
The Registrar is instructed to strike off the name of Ms Anamaria Douglas from the register upon expiry of the current Suspension Order.
Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the appropriate court against the decision of the Panel and the order it has made against you.  The appropriate court is the Court of Session in Northern Ireland.
Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, an appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you. 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Anamaria Douglas

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
14/01/2016 Health Committee Review Hearing Struck off