Ms Sandra Dee Masson

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT14232

Interim Order: Imposed on 06 Oct 2016

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 05/01/2017 End: 13:00 05/01/2017

Location: Hilton DoubleTree City Centre, Beach Blvd, Aberdeen, AB24 5EF

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

During your employment as an Occupational Therapist for NHS Grampian you:

1.    Did not demonstrate adequate clinical practice in your caseload including the following:

 

a.    In relation to Patient 1 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not undertake and/or record any occupational therapy interventions between approximately 25 February 2013 and 24 June 2013;

                                         ii.    Did not complete a full occupational therapy assessment;

                                        iii.    Did not conduct a visit to the nursery for a seating assessment as per the treatment plan.

 

b.    In relation to Patient 4 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after November 2009;

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record a reassessment in early 2010;

                                        iii.    Did not document a clear treatment and/or discharge plan.

 

c.    In relation to Patient 6 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes;

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record:

1.    a seating assessment in the nursery;

2.    a block of treatment between 4 February 2013 and 11 March 2013;

                                        iii.    Recommended further occupational therapy intervention but did not document any specific goals;

                                       iv.    Did not communicate the treatment plan to the parents.

 

d.    In relation to Patient 8 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after 30 January 2012;

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record occupational therapy intervention in the second week of the Easter holidays.

 

e.    In relation to Patient 9 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after 3 November 2008;

 

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record:

1.    a visit to the secondary school;

2.    an occupational therapy appointment at home on 30 March 2009.

                                        iii.    Did not communicate the treatment plan to the parents.

 

f.     In relation to Patient 10 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record:

1.    any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes, or reason why treatment had stopped, in the continuation notes between 21 November 2011 and 30 October 2012;

2.    a home assessment that took place on 11 February 2013.

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record a block of occupational therapy from January to April 2013.

 

g.    In relation to Patient 11 you:

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after 11 February 2013;

                                         ii.    Did not undertake and/or record a seating assessment;

                                        iii.    Did not communicate the treatment plan to the parents.

 

h.    In relation to Patient 12 you did not undertake and/or record any occupational therapy interventions after 13 June 2011.

 

i.      In relation to Patient 13 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after 23 July 2012

                                         ii.    Did not provide a written report to the school following a visit on 19 February 2013

                                        iii.    Did not undertake:

1.    A seating assessment;

2.    Occupational therapy intervention for writing and postural management.

                                       iv.    Did not communicate the treatment plan to the parents;

                                        v.    Did not attend multiagency meetings.

 

j.      In relation to Patient 15 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes after 25 February 2013;

                                         ii.    Did not record the initial assessment in the continuation notes;

                                        iii.    Did not commence treatment until approximately 6 months after the initial assessment;

                                       iv.    Did not keep the parents informed in relation to occupational therapy treatment.

 

k.    In relation to Patient 19 you:

 

                                          i.    Did not record any occupational therapy interventions and/or outcomes in the continuation notes between approximately 28 June 2011 and 8 January 2013;

                                         ii.    Did not undertake:

1.    an assessment in relation to the child’s personal care and dressing;

2.    any occupational therapy intervention in relation to supporting the child’s transition to secondary school.

                                        iii.    Did not attend and/or record attending meetings with the child’s primary school on:

1.    5 October 2012

2.    13 March 2013

                                       iv.    Did not communicate the treatment plan to the parents.

 

2.    The matters as described in paragraphs 1a) - 1k) constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

3.    By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence 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 sent by way of letter dated 11 November 2016 to the Registrant and it contained the correct details of today’s hearing. This letter had been posted in sufficient time to the Registrant’s address on the HCPC Register.  The Panel accepted that the rules relating to service of Notice had been complied with.

2. Mr Newman for the HCPC made an application to proceed with the hearing in the Registrant’s absence. He advised that the Registrant had emailed the HCPC on 23 November 2016 stating clearly that she would not be attending the hearing today. No adjournment had been requested.  He submitted that service had been effected, all reasonable steps had been taken to serve notice, and there was nothing to suggest an adjournment would secure the Registrant’s attendance.  He submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself and that there was a public interest in the matter proceeding today.

3. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice on the matters to be considered. The Panel is aware that its discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with care.  The Legal Assessor gave advice to the Panel and referred it to the HCPC Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence and to the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162. This makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been taken to serve the practitioner with notice. Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied in respect of notice, the discretion whether to proceed should be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware.  The Panel is required to balance the interests of the Registrant against those of the HCPC and the wider public interest, with fairness to the practitioner being a prime consideration, but with fairness to the HCPC and the public interest also considered.  

4. The Panel having considered matters decided that it was fair and appropriate to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She has told the HCPC that she will not attend the hearing today. The Panel consider that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself and waived her right to attend.  She is aware of the hearing today and has indicated her full acceptance of the Voluntary Removal Agreement (“VRA”). Nothing would suggest that an adjournment would secure her attendance and, further, there was a public interest in proceeding today.

Background and Submissions for the HCPC

5. Mr Newman told the Panel that this was an application to discontinue the proceedings against the Registrant on the basis of the VRA entered into between the HCPC and the Registrant.  The allegation appeared in schedule A to the VRA.   It had been signed by both the Registrant and the HCPC.

6. Mr Newman explained that the Registrant was an Occupational Therapist (“OT”) employed by NHS Grampian. The allegation relates to concerns about the Registrant’s practice as an OT including poor record keeping and failure to produce appropriate treatment plans in respect of a large number of patients. The issues were originally referred to the HCPC in 2013 and had been listed for a Final hearing in May 2016.  That Final hearing had been adjourned, on the application of the Registrant, to allow for consideration of possible disposal by consent by means of a Conditions of Practice Order. Thereafter, the Registrant had sought retirement from NHS Grampian on health grounds and had sought removal from the HCPC Register.  Consequently, the VRA before the Panel had been agreed and signed by both parties.

7. Mr Newman explained to the Panel that the allegation referred by the Investigating Committee, and that agreed to and admitted by the Registrant at Schedule A of the VRA, had some alterations. He explained that the HCPC at the Final hearing had proposed to offer no evidence in respect of four sub-particulars in the allegation and had further proposed changes, for the purposes of clarification, in the wording of some other sub-particulars. These had been communicated to the Registrant, who had been represented at that hearing.  However, the final hearing had been adjourned without any amendment to the allegation taking place.

8. Mr Newman submitted that this issue confers no prejudice on either party. The Registrant’s willingness to make admissions to all the factual allegations was recorded in the decision of the panel at the Final hearing. He explained that the VRA at Schedule A contains both the original allegation and the proposed amendments.

9. Mr Newman referred the Panel to the new HCPC Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent.  He reminded the Panel that minor changes to the allegation do not prevent the Panel, in principle, approving a VRA. The Registrant had admitted the entire allegation as originally worded.  Mr Newman reminded the Panel of the public interest in the expeditious and proportionate disposal of certain cases by consent.  He advised the Panel it must be satisfied on two issues – does the VRA provide the appropriate level of pubic protection, and is the VRA such that it is not detrimental to the wider public interest?  He advised that the HCPC is satisfied that in this case both issues are met. 

10. Mr Newman submitted that the VRA did satisfy the public interest and protect the public as it removed the Registrant from the Register immediately.  There was no detriment to the public interest as the Registrant had shown insight in admitting the whole allegation and had recognised her failings.  The allegation related to competence and to the Registrant’s practice.  This case did not raise any need to proceed to a Final hearing to serve as a deterrent to the profession as a whole, or to uphold public confidence.  A Striking Off order was not a likely outcome at a Final hearing. He noted that the panel at the Final hearing had contemplated the possibility of a Conditions of Practice Order. He submitted it was both expeditious and proportionate to proceed with the VRA. The Registrant also had health issues and he submitted that, in all the circumstances, it was appropriate to proceed by way of a VRA.

11. The Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the new HCPC Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent (December 2016).  He reminded the Panel of the requirement for full admissions by a Registrant of the allegation, and the over-arching public interest, including the wider public interest. 

Decision

12. The Panel has reminded itself that it must be satisfied 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.  It considered the submissions of the HCPC, the legal advice, the terms of the HCPC Practice Note and the VRA.  The Panel carefully considered the bundle and the terms of the allegation. 

13. The Panel noted that the Registrant has fully admitted the whole terms of the allegation as originally referred to the Final hearing. She has admitted to the four sub-particulars on which the HCPC had intended to offer no evidence. Any future panel considering any application for restoration to the Register might wish to take this into account. The Panel is satisfied that the version of the allegation in Schedule A of the VRA is not materially different from the allegation before the Panel and that there is no prejudice to either party or to the public interest.
 
14. After careful consideration of all the information before it, the Panel has concluded that, in the circumstances of this case, the approval of the proposed VRA is appropriate.  The Panel is satisfied that the public will be protected by the removal of the Registrant from the Register and that the wider public interest is also satisfied by her removal. The Panel note that the Registrant has fully admitted the allegation and has consented to voluntary removal. She has stated in an email to the HCPC that she “has done so in the full knowledge that (she) will not be able to reapply for inclusion on the Register for a period of 5 years should (she) ever wish to do so”.  

15. In all these circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that there would be no detriment to the wider public interest in this allegation not proceeding to a Final hearing, and that it is appropriate, proportionate and expedient to consent to the proposed VRA and discontinue the proceedings.

16. Accordingly, the Chair of the Panel has, on behalf of the Panel, signed and dated the Notice of Discontinuance and Voluntary Removal which consents to the HCPC discontinuing these proceedings with immediate effect. The Panel thus gives effect to the VRA agreed with the Registrant as of the date of this hearing.

Order

The Panel consents to the HCPC application to withdraw the allegation and to discontinue proceedings on the basis of the signed Voluntary Removal Agreement.

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 Ms Sandra Dee Masson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
05/01/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
07/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Application Interim Suspension
16/05/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned