Miss Jennifer Rankin

Profession: Chiropodist / podiatrist

Registration Number: CH32157

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 08/02/2018 End: 12:00 08/02/2018

Location: Novotel Glasgow, 181 Pitt Street, Glasgow, G2 4DT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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

(As amended)
During the course of your employment as a Chiropodist/Podiatrist at Barefoot Chiropody and Podiatry between 2013 and 28 August 2015 and at McDonald Footcare between 28 August 2015 and 14 September 2015, you:
1) Did not make records of the treatment you provided to:
a) Patient A on 31 August 2015.
b) Patient B, on:
i. 06 August 2015; and/or
ii. 11 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
c) Patient C, on:
i. 27 July 2015; and/or
ii. 14 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
d) Patient D, on:
i. 27 July 2015; and/or
ii. 14 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
e) Patient E, on:
i. 03 August 2015; and/or
ii. 14 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
f) Patient F, on:
i. 17 August 2015; and/or
ii. 14 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
g) Patient G, on:
i. 06 August 2015; and/or
ii. 14 September 2015. – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
h) Patient H on 13 July 2015;
i) Patient I on 11 August 2015;
j) Patent J on 07 September 2015; – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
k) Patient K on 07 September 2015; – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
l) Patient L on 03 August 2015;
m) Patient M, on:
i. 10 July 2015; and/or
ii. 21 August 2015.
n) Patient N on 24 July 2015;
o) Patient O on 10 June 2015;
p) Patient P on 10 July 2015;
q) Patient Q on 10 August 2015;
r) Patient R on 13 May 2015;
s) Patient S on 15 July 2015;
t) Patient T on 30 July 2015;
u) Patient U on 22 July 2015;
v) Patient V on 13 August 2015;
w) Patient W on 03 August 2015;
x) Patient x on 06 August 2015;
y) Patient Y on 05 August 2015; – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
z) Patient Z on 18 August 2015;
aa) Patient AA on 18 August 2015;
bb) Patient BB on 28 August 2015; – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
cc) Patient CC on 03 August 2015;
dd) Patient DD on 10 August 2015;
ee) Patient EE on 18 August 2015;
ff) Patient FF on 18 August 2015.
2) Recorded the notes for Patient GG and Patient HH on the same record card.
3) Recorded the notes for Patient JJ and Patient KK on the same record card.
4) Inappropriately stored the following patient records in a location other than the clinic:
a) Patient II; – No evidence offered in relation to this particular
b) Patient LL;
c) Patient MM.
d) Patient A
5) Did not create files and/or record treatments for approximately 65 patients.
6) The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
7) By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service of Notice

1. The Notice of a Review Hearing on 8 February 2018 was sent to the Registrant at her address on the Register on 11 January 2018 by first class post.  It contained notice of today’s date, time and venue.  An email containing this information was also sent to the Registrant’s email address on the same date. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor on the rules applicable to service.

2. The Panel carefully considered the rules and was satisfied that there has been good service.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

4. Ms Royer on behalf of the HCPC submitted that the Panel should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.  There has been no engagement by the Registrant since February 2017 and no adjournment has been requested.  Ms Royer submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself.  She submitted that there is a public interest in the hearing proceeding

5. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. She advised that if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel has the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She reminded the Panel that it should exercise that discretion with great care and referred the Panel to the HCPTS Guidance Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and to the guidance in Adeogba v GMC [2016] EWCA Civ 162.  The first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been made to serve the Registrant with notice.  Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied that proper notice has been given, the discretion of whether or not to proceed must be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, with fairness to the Registrant being a prime consideration, but with fairness to the HCPC and public interest also taken into account.

6. The Panel was mindful of the overarching purpose of the Regulator to protect the public and to maintain public confidence in the profession. The Panel noted that the current Suspension Order is due to expire on 21 March 2018 and that this is a mandatory review. The Registrant had notice on 11 January 2018 that a review hearing on 8 February 2018 was to take place. The Panel considered that it was in the public interest that the review takes place.

7. The Panel agreed to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.  It is both in the public interest and in the Registrant’s own interest to do so. In reaching this decision, the Panel has noted there has been no request for an adjournment and a lack of engagement by the Registrant. It balanced fairness to the Registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the public interest. The Panel is of the view that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself and chosen not to engage and that no useful purpose would be served by adjourning the hearing, which in part is held for the benefit of the Registrant. The Panel has also taken account of the fact that this is a mandatory review and weighed its responsibilities for public protection and the expeditious disposal of the case with the Registrant’s right to be present at the hearing.  In these circumstances the Panel is satisfied that it is appropriate to proceed in her absence.

Background

8. Ms Royer for the HCPC, gave the Panel an overview of the background.  The Registrant worked as a Podiatrist at Barefoot Chiropody and Podiatry between 2013 and 28 August 2015 and its successor, McDonald Footcare, between 28 August 2015 and 14 September 2015.The referral to the HCPC was made by the business owner, who raised concerns in relation to files of multiple patients, who had been treated by the Registrant, being incomplete or missing.  There were therefore no notes available when some of the patients attended for routine or follow up appointments.   The Registrant had also kept files at home, contrary to the terms of her contract and accepted practice as to the secure storage of confidential files.

9. At a final hearing of a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee of the HCPC on 20 and 21 February 2017, the allegation was found proved. The Registrant had failed to store records appropriately or make treatment records for approximately 63 patients who had attended for treatment.

10.  Having made factual findings, the final hearing panel concluded that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct and that her fitness to practise was impaired. A 12 month Suspension Order was imposed.

HCPC Submissions

11. Ms Royer referred the Panel to the background of the case and told it that the Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC for over a year and there is no evidence of the development of any insight, remediation or remorse.  In these circumstances, and given the lack of any evidence as to her fitness to practise, Ms Royer submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and that conditions would not be appropriate as the Registrant has failed to engage with these regulatory proceedings.  She submitted that it is a decision for the Panel to decide what sanction may be appropriate.


Decision on Impairment and Sanction

12. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive review of the Registrant’s fitness to return to unrestricted practice. Its role is not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations or go behind the previous findings. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel must exercise its own independent judgement. She advised the Panel that if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired all the options under Article 30 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 could be exercised by the Panel. She reminded the Panel that it should bear in mind the principles of fairness and proportionality and have regard to the HCPTS’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. She reminded the Panel that any order that it makes should be at the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public or is otherwise in the public interest.

13. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration all the documentation before it, the submissions of Ms Royer and the advice of the Legal Assessor.

14. The Panel has no information before it regarding steps taken by the Registrant to remediate her practice, reflect on her failings or develop her insight.   There is nothing before this Panel about the Registrant’s current fitness to practise.  In these circumstances, and bearing in mind the findings of misconduct and impairment at the final hearing, the Panel has determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

15. The Panel went on to consider what action, if any, it should take in light of its finding of current impairment. In doing so, it had careful regard to the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy.  The Panel first considered whether it would be appropriate to take no further action or to impose a Caution Order. The Panel determined that given the findings of the final hearing and the lack of evidence of any insight and remediation, it would not be appropriate to allow the order to lapse or to impose a Caution Order.  That would not be sufficient or proportionate to protect the public or the wider public interest.

16. The Panel next considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order would be appropriate.  It has determined that it was not possible, given the lack of engagement and any information about the Registrant’s current circumstances, to devise workable, realistic, or verifiable Conditions of Practice.  There was also nothing to indicate any willingness by the Registrant to engage with any conditions that may be imposed. Conditions of Practice would fail to protect the public or the wider public interest.

17. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order.  There is a complete lack of any evidence as to remediation, insight and remorse by the Registrant. There has been no engagement by the Registrant, and the Panel noted the Registrant did not engage at the final hearing, and has chosen not to do so since. The Panel noted that it is two and a half years since the allegations first arose and in the intervening time there has been absolutely no engagement by the Registrant. The Panel considered the previous Panel’s finding that the failings in respect of the storage and maintenance of records were remediable but the Registrant has given no indication whatsoever that she wants to remediate or resume her practice. The Panel was satisfied that in these circumstances a continuation of the Suspension Order would not be in the wider public interest.

18.  Given the Registrant’s total lack of engagement and her failure to demonstrate any attempts to remediate or development of insight since the final hearing, the Panel concluded that extending the current Suspension Order would serve no useful purpose as there was nothing to suggest that the Registrant would use this time to engage with her regulator or take steps to remediate her failings.

19. The Panel determined that a Striking Off Order should be imposed at the expiry of the existing order. In reaching this conclusion the Panel took into account paragraph 48 of the Indicative Sanction Policy which states:

‘Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public, for example, where there is a lack of insight [or] continuing problems... A registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate.’

20. The Panel was satisfied that there was no public interest in maintaining the Registrant’s name on the Register and subjecting her to further reviews when it appears clear that she has no intention of returning to practise or engaging with the fitness to practise procedures. In these circumstances the Panel concluded that no sanction lower than a Striking Off Order would be sufficient to protect the wider public interest. 

Order

Order:

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Jennifer Rankin from the Register upon the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 21 March 2018.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Jennifer Rankin

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/02/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
20/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended