Mr Colin G Towner

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT50671

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 07/12/2018 End: 17:00 07/12/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as an Occupational Therapist at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust:


1. On 5 July 2013, you did not conduct risk assessments prior to taking 5 vulnerable people who use services (A, B, C, D and E) on a walk.


2. Your actions in 1 above, placed service users at risk.


3. On or around 24 May 2013, following a home assessment with Service User F you did not complete an adequate report in that:

a) There was no background history recorded;

b) Information relating to agencies involved with the service user was not recorded;

c) [Not Proved]

d) The risks recorded did not adequately reflect the service user’s situation;

e) An assessment of the service user’s capacity was not recorded;

f) Referral and/or liaison with other agencies were not recorded.


4. On or around 10 July, 2013 you did not complete an adequate washing and dressing assessment report in respect of Service User G in that:

a) The report was completed on the incorrect template document;

b) There was no clinical formulation recorded;

c) The risks recorded were inadequate;

d) There were no recommendations recorded.


5. Your actions described in paragraphs 1-4 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.


6. By reason of that misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service and Proceeding in Absence

1. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the Rules.

2. Ms Senior made an application for the Panel to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel was provided  with a copy of an email dated 2 December 2018 from the Registrant to the HCPC in relation to today’s hearing, in which the Registrant stated that he had no intention of practising as an Occupational Therapist now or in the future and wished the matter to be settled.

3. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence” of a Registrant and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself from the hearing and waived his right to attend. This is a mandatory review and it should be heard in a timely manner. The case concerns public protection issues. In all the circumstances, the Panel decided that it was in the interests of justice, and the Registrant’s own interests, to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.


Background

4. The Registrant is an Occupational Therapist registered with the HCPC. From February 2012 he was employed as a Band 5 Occupational Therapist at the Meadows 24/7 Assessment Treatment Unit within the Surrey Health Community Mental Health Teams.

5. On 5 July 2013, in the course of his employment, the Registrant led a walk involving five in-patients. The Registrant committed a number of serious errors in relation to this activity:

i. he had not conducted risk assessments on any of the patients and thereby placed them at risk of harm;

ii. he had failed to record:

• the capacity of any of the patients;

• their background history;

• referral to, and / or liaison with, other agents.

6. On or about 10 July 2013, the Registrant failed to complete an adequate washing and dressing assessment report in relation to Service User G. The report was on an incorrect template, there was no record of any clinical formulation, the risks recorded were inadequate and no recommendation was recorded.

7. An investigation into these concerns was carried out by the Registrant’s employer, leading to a disciplinary hearing.

8. The Registrant made a self-referral to the HCPC in relation to these matters in March 2014, resulting in these proceedings.

9. The Registrant completed a Notice to Admit Facts dated 27 January 2015, in which he admitted the factal particulars of the Allegation.

10. At the final hearing before a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 6-7 June 2016, which the Registrant did not attend, the Panel found the facts of the Allegation proved and that they constituted lack of competence. The panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months on the grounds that such an order was necessary for the protection of the public and was otherwise in the public interest.

11. At the first review on 8 June 2017, which the Registrant did not attend, the panel found that there had been no new information provided by the Registrant since the imposition of the Suspension Order on 7 June 2016. Accordingly, the panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and imposed a further Suspension Order for a period of 12 months.

12. At the second reiview on 31 May 2018, which the Registrant did not attend, the panel found that there had been no material change of circumstances and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired. The panel noted that the Registrant had consistently maintained throughout the proceedings that he had no intention of returning to practise as an Occupational Therapist. The panel observed that it was not in a position to impose a Striking Off Order because the Registrant had not yet been continuously subject to a Suspension Order for two years. The panel imposed a further Suspension Order for a period of six months.


Decision

13. This Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle of documents containing the decisions of the panels at the substantive hearing and at subsequent reviews.

14. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

15. The Panel noted the findings of fact by the panel at the substantive hearing in June 2016 and the determination that those facts constituted a lack of competence. The Registrant had not provided the Panel on that occasion with any evidence of remediation and indeed had declared an intention not to practise as an Occupational Therapist in the future. The panel at the substantive hearing considered that the Registrant’s lack of competence, and unwillingness to remediate his practice, gave rise to a risk to public safety concerns and consequential damage to public confidence in the profession. The panel on that occasion considered that that the only appropriate sanction was a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months.

16. The Registrant did not attend the reviews on 8 June 2017 to 31 May 2018 and did not provide any evidence or information to show that he had attempted to remediate any of the failures in his practice which had been identified by the panel at the substantive hearing. Accordingly, the reviewing panels on each occasion found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and imposed further Suspension Orders.

17. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose at the expiry of the existing Order, the Panel today took into account the submissions of Ms Senior.

18. The Panel took into account the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

19. The Panel noted the email dated 2 December 2018 in which the Registrant informed the HCPC that he has no intention of practising as an Occupational Therapist in the future and wishes the “the matter to be settled once and for all and the investigation closed”. It was clear that the Registrant had a settled intention not to return to practise as an Occupational Therapist and therefore had no intention to remediate the failures in his practice.

20. In the absence of any evidence that the Registrant had taken any steps to remediate the failures previously identified in his practice, the Panel today concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

21. The Panel considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness and applied the principle of proportionaity.

22. The Panel considered that it would not be appropriate to impose no order or a Caution Order because the public would not thereby be protected.

23. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate because the Registrant had made it clear that he had no intention of returning to practice as an Occupational Therapist.

24. In the Panel’s judgment, no purpose would be served by imposing a further Suspension Order because the Registrant had no intention of remediating his practice or of returning to practise as an Occupational Therapist.

25. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the only appropriate sanction to impose at the expiry of the current Suspension Order was a Striking Off Order.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Colin G Towner from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Colin G Towner

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/12/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
31/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
08/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
06/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
03/08/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned