Mrs Amanda Catherine Oxley
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Your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired by reason of you physical and/or mental health,
Admission of expert evidence
1. Prior to the hearing, the HCPC had made an application for the evidence of Dr TR to be admitted and relied on as expert evidence. That application had been considered by the Panel Chair alone, after receiving the legal advice of the Legal Assessor. The Registrant had consented to a determination on this matter of admissibility of expert evidence being undertaken by electronic means. When providing her consent, the Registrant had indicated matters that were of concern to her about the way in which her interview with Dr TR had been conducted.
2. The Chair’s decision on the application had been to accept into evidence the report of Dr TR. The Chair had also accepted and noted the need for the concerns expressed by the Registrant to be explored by this Panel at the hearing should the Registrant maintain her position that she would not attend.
3. The Panel had before it a certificate confirming that the letter of Notice dated 15 February 2019 had been sent by first class post to the address shown for the Registrant in the HCPC Register. The Panel noted that the information within the Notice letter was complete and correct and that this letter of Notice had been sent in sufficient time in advance of the hearing. The Panel also noted that a copy of the Notice had also been sent to the Registrant by email on the same date.
4. Having accepted legal advice the Panel came to the decision that it was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct & Competence Committee Rules 2003 (as amended).
Proceeding in absence
5. The HCPC applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence, under Rule 11 of the Conduct & Competence Rules 2003 (as amended). The HCPC highlighted various communications from the Registrant in which she had stated her reasons for her decision not to attend. It was highlighted that the Registrant had been offered the opportunity to participate in these proceedings by telephone, but she had not taken up this offer.
6. The HCPC noted that the Registrant had not sought an adjournment and was fully aware that the Panel would make a decision in her absence. There was no evidence to indicate that the Registrant would attend if this matter was adjourned. The HCPC had two witnesses in attendance and there was a public interest in this matter proceeding as events had taken place over two years ago.
7. The Panel took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
8. The Panel decided that it would proceed in the Registrant’s absence for the following reasons:
• The Registrant had stated in her response pro forma and hearing information form, and in her emails dated 7 December 2018 and 21 February 2019, that she would not attend the hearing.
• The Registrant’s email of 24 February 2019, attaching her statement for consideration by the Panel at today’s hearing, supported her position that she would not be attending.
• The Registrant had been offered the opportunity to participate by telephone and had chosen not to do this.
• There has been nothing received from the Registrant since her last email dated 24 February 2019 to indicate that she has changed her decision not to attend.
• There has been no application for an adjournment, and no indication that the Registrant would attend on any future date if this matter were adjourned.
• The HCPC had an expert witness in attendance, and another witness warned for the next day.
• There is public interest in this matter proceeding. Further the Registrant has stated that these proceedings had been very stressful, so it is therefore also in her interests to proceed without delay.
• Re-listing this case would serve no useful purpose in these circumstances.
The Panel is therefore satisfied that the Registrant has made and informed decision to voluntarily absent herself and in so doing waived her right to attend.
Hearing in private
9. The HCPC made an application that this hearing be heard in private. It was submitted that as the sole issue was that of the Registrant’s health, past and current, it was a matter that in this case outweighed the public interest in hearings being in open session.
10. The Legal Assessor confirmed that within the HCPC rules there is a presumption that all hearings are to be held in public. It was a therefore a matter for the Panel to weigh the Registrant’s right to a private life with that of the wider public in the hearing proceeding in open session.
11. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not requested that this hearing be in private. However, it accepted that perhaps the Registrant may not have been aware that this hearing could be in private.
12. The Panel accepted that these health issues did afford the Registrant the right to privacy. All the information before the Panel was of a most personal nature, and this being the case, the Panel considered that it was not possible, nor practicable for it to attempt to hear parts of the evidence in private. The Panel therefore decided that in the Registrant’s interest the whole of the hearing would be in private, apart from legal advice.
Order: That the Registrar is directed to suspend the Registration of Mrs Amanda Catherine Oxley from the Register on the date this order comes into effect for a period of 9 months.
Interim Order Decision:
1. Having determined that a substantive Suspension Order was necessary, the Panel went on to consider the potential imposition of an interim order. The Panel noted that in the Notice of Hearing letter dated 15 February 2019 the Registrant was informed that an interim order would be considered if conditions of practice or a suspension were imposed.
2. The HCPC made an application for an interim order on the basis of public protection and the public interest given the findings in the Panel’s substantive determination.
3. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
4. Given its finding and reasons in the substantive order, the Panel has concluded that an interim order is necessary for public protection and in the public interest. Any other conclusion would be inconsistent with its earlier findings.
5. The Panel first considered whether an interim conditions of practice order would be appropriate. It concluded that it would not be appropriate for the reasons set out in its earlier consideration of a substantive conditions of practice order. In all the circumstances the Panel has concluded that an interim suspension order is necessary and proportionate.
6. In coming to this conclusion the Panel took into account the professional and financial impact of this order but considered that public protection and the wider public interest outweighed the interests of the Registrant.
7. This Interim Suspension Order is for 18 months which allows for the possibility of an appeal being lodged and heard.
The Panel makes an interim Suspension Order, for a period of 18 months under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.
This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.
History of Hearings for Mrs Amanda Catherine Oxley
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