Mr Clifford James Anderson

Profession: Hearing aid dispenser

Registration Number: HAD00024

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 01/03/2018 End: 17:00 01/03/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Hearing Aid Dispenser for Hearing Health and Mobility, on 06 March 2014, in the course of examining Patient A’s ears, you:

1. Used a cracked speculum.

2. Undertook a procedure to remove wax from Patient A's ear/s.

3. Caused discomfort and pain to Patient A during the procedure.

4. Caused abrasion to the insides of Patient A's ears which resulted in:
a) Internal bleeding; and
b) Patient A losing hearing for several days.

5. Your actions at paragraph 2 were outside the scope of your practice.

6. The matters described in paragraphs 1 - 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

7. By reason of that 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 provided evidence that Notice of today’s hearing had been sent by way of letter on 6 December 2017 regarding the Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA), to the Registrant’s address on the HCPC Register. This contained the full details of today’s hearing and had been posted in sufficient time in advance of the hearing.  The Panel was satisfied that the rules as to service of Notice have been complied with. 

2. Mr Ferson applied to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He explained to the Panel that the Registrant had serious health issues.  The HCPC had received a letter from the Registrant’s GP dated 06 July 2017 confirming various health issues. The GP said that the Registrant was thinking of retiring early and stating that in his professional opinion it was not “in his best interests to return to his duties and responsibilities associated with his work”. The Registrant had requested voluntary removal from the HCPC Register and had informed the HCPC in an email dated 10 November 2017 that he was not medically fit to attend any HCPC hearing. The Registrant subsequently signed and returned a VRA fully admitting the Allegation and impairment.

3. Mr Ferson submitted that there was a public interest in the hearing proceeding and that coincided with the interests of the Registrant who had signed the VRA and returned it to the HCPC. He had clearly indicated by email on 10 November 2017 that he would not be attending and had no objection to the hearing proceeding in his absence.  It was submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and had made no indication that he wished to be represented at this hearing. Mr Ferson  submitted that there was no disadvantage to the Registrant in the hearing proceeding in his absence today.

4. The Panel heard and 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 has the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He reminded the Panel that it should exercise that discretion with great care. The Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Proceeding in the Absence’ of the Registrant and to the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.  This case makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been made to serve the Registrant with notice and, thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied that proper notice has been given, the discretion 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. Fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public must also be taken into account.

5. The Panel agreed to proceed in the Registrant’s absence as it was satisfied that it is both in the public interest and in the Registrant’s interest to do so. In reaching this decision, the Panel noted there has been an email from the Registrant clearly indicating that he does not object to the hearing proceeding in his absence. He had not asked for an adjournment. The Panel balanced fairness to the Registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the public interest. It concluded that the Registrant has voluntarily absented himself and that no useful purpose would be served by adjourning the hearing. The Panel took account of the fact that the VRA has been agreed and signed by the Registrant. In these circumstances the Panel is satisfied that it is appropriate to proceed in his absence.

Background
6. The Registrant is a Hearing Aid Dispenser who was employed by Hearing Health and Mobility. On 6 March 2014, the Registrant visited a patient in order to carry out a hearing assessment. The Patient made a report to Hearing Health and Mobility that he had sustained injuries to his ears resulting in bleeding and loss of hearing for several days.

7. The matter was referred to the HCPC by the Patient A on 15 April 2014 and an Investigating Committee of the HCPC decided that there was a case to answer in relation to the Registrant’s fitness to practise. 

HCPC Submissions
8. Mr Ferson set out the background to the case and referred the Panel to the VRA and the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent. He said that in paragraph F of the VRA it was confirmed that the Allegation had been formally withdrawn by the HCPC, as that is what is required for voluntary removal, and this has the same effect as the Registrant being struck from the Register. He told the Panel that if the Registrant ever sought to be restored to the HCPC Register, the VRA would be provided to the panel considering the matter and the Registrant would be treated as if he had been struck off. The VRA was a public document and was not confidential. 

9. Mr Ferson submitted that in these circumstances, the proposed VRA secured the appropriate level of public protection and would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.  He submitted that the public interest had been satisfied and that a VRA was now an appropriate and expeditious way to proceed. The Panel asked what would appear on the HCPC website if a person looks up the Registrant on the website. The Panel was told that the HCPC website would show the Allegation, the Panel’s full decision and the VRA.

10. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to the importance of the public interest and protection of the public. He reminded it of the terms of the VRA and the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Disposal of Cases by Consent’ as to Voluntary Removal.

Decision
11. The Panel carefully considered the HCPC’s submissions, the HCPTS Practice Note and the ‘VRA’. The Panel has noted that the Registrant has fully admitted the Allegation and has admitted his lack of competence and misconduct. The Registrant was not competent or qualified to carry out ear wax removal, which is a clinical ear care procedure. He caused actual harm to a patient. The Panel noted that the Registrant  in his letter of 10 October 2017 states that his fitness to practice is currently impaired.

12. With regard to the issue of protection of the public, the Panel noted that the procedure of ear wax removal carried out by the Registrant, which caused harm to patient, is a procedure that a person who is not registered with the HCPC may undertake after training. However, the Panel has determined that, so far as it has power to do so, the proposed VRA achieves the appropriate level of public protection  by removing the Registrant from the Register, which is the equivalent of a Striking Off Order, the most severe sanction available. 

13. The Panel also considered the wider public interest. The Panel noted that the Registrant has health issues that affect his fitness to practice and this is supported by a letter from his GP. The Panel is mindful that any return to the HCPC Register would require the Registrant to apply for restoration to the Register, at which time the VRA and the Registrant’s previous misconduct and lack of competence would be considered. The Panel is satisfied in these circumstances that the VRA would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. 

14. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the proposed VRA adequately protects the public. The terms of the VRA, agreed and signed by both the Registrant and the HCPC, are sufficient and appropriately maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

15. The Panel agreed to the matter being concluded by means of the VRA.

Order

The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Clifford James Anderson from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Clifford James Anderson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status