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 firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.
During the course of your employment as a Chiropodist/Podiatrist with Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, between 3 October 2016 to 31 January 2017:
1. Between 3 October 2016 and 29 December 2016 you did not fully follow clinical processes for around 24 of your patients, which led to disruption and/or delays in their treatment.
2. The matters as set out in paragraph 1 constitute a lack of competence and/or misconduct..
3. By reason of your lack of competence and/or misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired
Service of Notice
1. The notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant at his address as it appeared in the register on 14 June 2018. The notice contained the date, time and venue of today’s hearing.
2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and is satisfied that notice of today’s hearing has been served in accordance with Rules 6(1) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (the “Rules”).
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
3. The Panel then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules. In doing so, it considered the submissions of Ms Whitby on behalf of the HCPC.
4. Ms Whitby submitted that the HCPC has taken all reasonable steps to serve the notice on the Registrant. She further submitted that the Registrant has engaged with the HCPC in relation to the application for voluntary removal, and that an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. The Registrant’s last contact with the HCPC was when he signed and returned the Voluntary Removal Agreement. She reminded the Panel that there was a public interest in this matter being dealt with expeditiously.
5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that, if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel had the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
6. The Legal Assessor also referred the Panel to the cases of R -v- Jones  UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis  EWCA Civ 162 and advised that the Adeogba case reminded the Panel that its primary objective is the protection of the public and of the public interest. In that regard, the case of Adeogba was clear that “where there is good reason not to proceed, the case should be adjourned; where there is not, however, it is only right that it should proceed”.
7. It was clear, from the principles derived from case law, that the Panel was required to ensure that fairness and justice were maintained when deciding whether or not to proceed in a Registrant’s absence.
8. The Panel was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the hearing. It was also satisfied that the Registrant is aware of the hearing.
9. In deciding whether to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into consideration the HCPC practice note entitled ‘Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant’. The Panel weighed its responsibility for public protection and the expeditious disposal of the case with the Registrant’s right to a fair hearing.
10. In reaching its decision the Panel took into account the following:
• The Registrant has not made an application to adjourn today’s hearing
• There is an implicit expectation by the Registrant that the hearing today proceeds in his absence due to the Registrant’s request, and agreement to the voluntary removal, and the nature of the proceedings today.
• There is a public interest that this matter is dealt with expeditiously.
11. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing. It noted in the response proforma dated 07 February 2018 and in the telephone note to his Case Manager dated 24 July 2018 that he would not be attending the hearing. There is a distinction between a case where the Registrant is clearly aware of the hearing date, and one where there has been no response from the Registrant. It determined that it was unlikely that an adjournment would result in the Registrant’s attendance at a later date. Having weighed the public interest for expedition in cases against the Registrant’s own interest, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
Proceeding in private
12. The Panel heard that matters relating to the Registrant’s health were likely to be discussed as part of this application. Ms Whitby submitted that it was appropriate that parts of the hearing be held in private where the Registrant’s health was to be discussed. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and it noted Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Procedure Rules 2003 (“Procedural Rules”) whereby matters pertaining to the private life of the Registrant, the complainant, any person giving evidence or of any Patient or Client should be heard in private. The Panel agreed the parts of the hearing, where reference was to be made to the Registrant’s health, should be heard in private.
13. The Registrant was employed as a Chiropodist / Podiatrist by the Gloucester Care Services NHS Trust (the “Trust”). In April 2017, the HCPC received a referral from the Trust in relation to concerns about his failure to complete clinical processes for approximately 24 patients, as a result of which, treatment for those patients was delayed.
14. On 29 December 2016, the Registrant was signed off sick by his GP. On 12 January 2017, he tendered his resignation. His last day of employment with the Trust was 31 January 2017.
15. In April 2017, the Registrant contacted the Trust to inform them of the steps that he had taken since his resignation to address the concerns the Trust had raised.
16. On 17 October 2017, the HCPC received correspondence from the Registrant indicating that he wished to remove himself from the register due to personal reasons and his ill health. On 7 February 2018, he returned his completed pro forma response from to the allegations, admitting the allegations and that his fitness to practise was impaired.
17. The Panel considered the submissions of Ms Whitby on behalf of the HCPC. She outlined the circumstances that led to the referral to the HCPC, and submitted that a Voluntary Removal Agreement was the appropriate method of finalising this case. In his written correspondence, the Registrant fully admitted the factual particulars and that his fitness to practise was impaired because of his health. The HCPC was satisfied that the Registrant fully understood the effect of the Voluntary Removal Agreement and that granting the application would not compromise the protection of the public or have any detrimental effect on the wider public interest.
18. The Panel had sight of the email from the Registrant, dated 24 April 2017, from which it is clear that that he accepts that he has been unable to offer the care patients deserved and that he was not practising at that time, and that he has no intention of practising in the near future as a Chiropodist / Podiatrist. He stated that his decision not to practise “is in the best interests of ensuring patient well-being and safety whilst also ensuring my well-being”. As a result, he has requested voluntary removal from the HCPC register.
19. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and considered all of the evidence presented. The Panel has applied its own judgement to the application to withdraw the allegation and to discontinue these proceedings. The Panel has also had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Disposal of Cases by Consent”.
20. The Panel noted that the HCPC is satisfied that it would be meeting its statutory objective of protecting the public and the public interest, if the Registrant was permitted to be removed from the Register on similar terms to those which would apply if he were subject to a striking off order under article 29(5) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. The Panel noted from the documents that the Investigating Committee had concluded that there was a case to answer. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has fully admitted the factual allegation.
21. The Panel had before it a Voluntary Removal Agreement that has been agreed between the HCPC and the Registrant. It was signed and executed by both parties in terms of which the Registrant admitted the allegations, which had been made against him. He agreed that he will resign from the HCPC Register on the terms and conditions fully set out in that Agreement. The Registrant also signed a Declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other allegation.
22. The Panel firstly considered whether there were any factors that would make it undesirable to allow the allegation to be concluded on the consensual basis set out in the Voluntary Removal Agreement. It is clear from the medical evidence and the correspondence from the Registrant, that the Registrant’s health is the underlying issue that has led to the concerns. His health matters have been on-going and have led directly to his retirement. The Registrant has indicated that, as a result, he no longer wishes to remain in the profession. Taking the above into consideration, the Panel concluded that there are no overriding public interest factors that would require this matter to go to a full hearing.
23. The Panel is also cognisant that it was open to it to transfer this case to the Health Committee because of the underlying health issue, or that it could refer the matter for a full hearing before a Conduct and Competence Committee, but was of the view that neither course of action would serve a useful purpose and would in fact precipitate further unnecessary delay. It considered that would not be in the public interest, the interests of the Registrant, nor the HCPC. The matter is therefore better dealt with by this Committee.
24. The Panel is aware that if the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time in the future, his application would be treated as if he had been struck off as a result of the allegation.
25. In all the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that both the public and the public interest would be adequately protected by the terms of the agreement reached between the Registrant and the HCPC in as much as the Registrant will henceforth be prevented from practising as a Chiropodist / Podiatrist.
26. Furthermore, the Panel is satisfied that this method of finalising this case is appropriate and proportionate, and is jointly in the interest of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant. Accordingly, the Panel approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement and the withdrawal of the allegation and discontinuance of those proceedings.
ORDER: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Christopher Barber from the Register with immediate effect.
History of Hearings for Christopher Barber
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|14/08/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Voluntary Removal agreed|