Mrs Claire Herbert
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Allegation (as amended at the Substantive Hearing):
Your fitness to practise as a Chiropodist / Podiatrist is impaired by reason of your physical and/or mental health.
1. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Notice sent by first class post to the Registrant’s registered address on 18 October 2019, setting out the time, date and venue for this review and the possibility of the Panel proceeding without the Registrant in the event that she did not attend. The Panel was provided with proof of postage by way of a signed declaration by an HCPC employee. The Panel was thus satisfied with service in this case.
Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant
2. The Registrant did not attend the review hearing, nor did she respond to the Notice of Hearing.
3. Ms Navarro, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
4. When deciding whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into account the submissions made by Ms Navarro and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It bore in mind that, although it had a discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, this discretion should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel was cognisant of the fact that its purpose was to undertake a statutory review of a Suspension Order before the date it was due to expire. The Panel noted that the Registrant did not attend the final hearing or the two subsequent substantive order reviews.
5. The last contact on behalf of the Registrant was on 13 June 2017 and in an email set out:
“[the Registrant] has stated time and time again that she no longer is able to practise podiatry … Kindly leave her alone.”
6. There had been no subsequent contact from her, or anyone on her behalf, and she did not respond to the Notice of Hearing for this review. There was, therefore, nothing to suggest the Registrant would attend on another occasion, if this matter were to be adjourned and indeed no adjournment had been requested.
7. In light of the Registrant’s clearly stated intent prior to the final hearing and her lack of engagement since, the Panel decided that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself and thereby waived her right to be present. The Panel considered there was a public interest in the matter proceeding and it was also in the Registrant’s own interests that the order be reviewed.
8. In all the circumstances, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
Hearing in Private
9. In light of the fact that this case revolved around the Registrant’s health, the Panel decided it was appropriate for the entire hearing to be conducted in private in order to protect the private life of the Registrant.
10. As such, this is the redacted version of the private determination.
11. The Panel considered with care the submissions made by Ms Navarro and took into account all the documentation provided. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and in reaching its decisions referred to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on ‘Finding Fitness to Practise is Impaired’. The Panel carried out a comprehensive review of the current order in light of the circumstances as they existed today.
12. The Panel decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on health grounds.
13. The Panel then considered what sanction was both appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances and in doing so considered the HCPC Sanctions Policy.
14. It was not unusual in cases like this, where a Registrant has been suspended for over two years, to move to a strike off. However, the Panel considered this to be a disproportionate and ignominious way to end the career of a Registrant who had devoted many years to her profession and who, through no fault of her own, had found herself no longer fit to practise. The Panel considered it important to allow the Registrant to end her career with her reputation intact.
15. Accordingly, the Panel considered the most appropriate and proportionate course to follow was take no further action and to allow the current order to lapse on its expiry. The Panel was satisfied that there was no real risk to the public because it was extremely unlikely that the Registrant would ever be able to return to practise as a Podiatrist. In such circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that a member of the public, in full possession of all the facts of this case and in the knowledge that the Registrant had been suspended for over two years, would not have their confidence in the regulatory process undermined by the Panel taking this humane course.
16. The Panel therefore determined to take no further action and to allow this Suspension Order to lapse upon its expiry on 26 December 2019.
No notes available
History of Hearings for Mrs Claire Herbert
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|20/11/2019||Health Committee||Review Hearing||No further action|
|12/08/2019||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|
|21/09/2018||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|
|23/08/2018||Health Committee||Review Hearing||Hearing has not yet been held|
|29/08/2017||Health Committee||Final Hearing||Suspended|