Miss Anesu Dodzo
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1. The Panel was told that notice of these proceedings was posted to the Registrant at her registered address on 23 August 2017 and that, on the same date, a copy was emailed to her at her registered email address. The Panel had sight of un-redacted copies of the correspondence and an extract from the Register showing the Registrant’s address. The Panel determined that notice of this hearing had been properly served, in accordance with the Rules.
Proceeding in absence of the Registrant
2. The Panel heard the submission of Ms Vignoles to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. It heard and accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and paid due regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Proceeding in Absence of the Registrant’.
3. On 19 June 2017 the Registrant advised the HCPC by email that she would not be able to attend the final hearing in person. Attempts to ask her whether she would like to participate by video-link/teleconference were met with silence. The last such attempt was made on 20 November 2017, although the Registrant has responded to the HCPC on other matters.
4. The Panel was told that it seemed that the Registrant is currently living and working in Zimbabwe. There has been no application made by the Registrant to adjourn these proceedings. The Panel was aware of recent events in Zimbabwe. Although the Panel had no positive evidence in this regard, it considered that this may have hindered communication between the Registrant and the HCPC. However, the Registrant has had a significant period of time to arrange a telephone link both before and after these events had she wanted to do so but nonetheless has not taken up this option even when responding to other issues with the HCPC. Conscious of the well-known case of GMC v Adegoba 2016, the Panel recognised the importance of ensuring that today’s proceedings take place unless there are compelling reasons as to why it should not. Good service has been found, there has been no application for an adjournment and the Panel takes the view that it is appropriate and in the interests of justice that this hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant – not least because the HCPC has two witnesses ready to provide live evidence and the case raises issues critical to patient safety.
Proceeding in Private
5. Ms Vignoles made an unopposed application for this case to be heard entirely in private. The reasons were self-explanatory, this being a case of alleged mental and/or physical ill health. The Panel decided it was appropriate for this application to be granted, in accordance with the provisions of Rule 10.1. Accordingly, the Panel directed that the whole of the hearing should be held in private.
The order imposed today will apply from 2 January 2018.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 2 January 2019.
Application for an Interim Order in absence of the Registrant
Ms Vignoles made an application for an Interim Suspension order to be imposed upon the Registration for a period of 18 months and that it was appropriate and fair for this application to be made in the absence of the Registrant.
The Panel reminded itself that the notice sent to the Registrant dated 23 August 2017 warned her that such an application might be made in the event of certain orders being imposed including that of a Suspension Order. The case has proceeded on the basis that good service has been shown. The same reasons provided by the Panel in paragraphs 2 – 4 above still have application in relation to proceeding in the absence of the Registrant. It is fair and in the public interest for matters to proceed expeditiously, albeit in the absence of the Registrant.
As far as the application to impose an Interim Suspension Order is concerned, the Panel considers that, in light of its findings of misconduct, this is necessary in order to protect the public and is also in the wider public interest. This is imposed for a period of 18 months.
The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.