Dr Anthony Linford

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL27870

Interim Order: Imposed on 16 Oct 2018

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 04/10/2019 End: 12:00 04/10/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

As found proven at the final hearing on the 17 October 2018:

 

  1. On or around 30 July 2009 you made an application to be placed on the HPC register which incorrectly stated that you were employed by:
    a) found not proven
    b) found not proven
    Whilst registered with the HCPC as a Psychologist you:
    2. On or around 28 August 2016 sent your CV to Bryn Melyn Care, in an application for a vacancy, which incorrectly stated that your professional experience included:
    a) Action for Children in 2013
    b) Pulse, in 2009
    c) Cygnet Hospital in 2008
    3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 were dishonest.
    4. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 3 constitute misconduct.
    5. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise as a Practitioner Psychologist is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Service

1. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Notice sent by first class post to the Registrant’s registered address on 3 September 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 he 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.

3. Ms Simpson, 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 Simpson 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 this was a statutory review and its purpose was to review a Suspension Order before the date it was due to expire. The Registrant did not attend the final hearing. In emails sent to the HCPC prior to the final hearing, the Registrant indicated that he would not be attending that hearing, he had retired from practice, was no longer resident in the UK and he wished to withdraw from the process. There has been no subsequent contact from him and he did not respond to the notice of hearing for this review or to correspondence sent to him by the Presenting Officer. There was, therefore, nothing to suggest the Registrant would attend on another occasion, if this matter were to be adjourned.

5. In light of the Registrant’s clearly stated intent prior to the final hearing and his lack of engagement since, the Panel decided that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and thereby waived his 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.

6. In all the circumstances, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Background:

7. The Registrant is a Practitioner Psychologist registered with the HCPC. Having trained and qualified abroad, the Registrant submitted an application, date stamped 30 July 2009, to be admitted to the HCP Register (as it was at that time). His application for admission was successful.

8. It was alleged that within that application, the Registrant included details of employment which incorrectly stated that he had been employed by Cygnet Hospital from 1 October 2008, and Pulse Staffing from 1 September 2009. It was alleged that he included these details dishonestly. Neither of those allegations were found proved as there was evidence suggesting that the Registrant had indicated on the application that he had not in fact taken up either of those posts.

9. On 28 August 2016, the Registrant submitted his CV to Bryn Melyn Care in respect of a post as a Psychologist in Therapeutic Residential Care. His CV, under ‘Professional Experience’, included posts at Action for Children, Pulse Healthcare Ltd, and Cygnet Hospital. It was alleged that he included these details dishonestly.

10. On 6 October 2016, Dr LW, Head of Clinical Services at Bryn Melyn Care conducted a Skype interview with the Registrant. During this interview, it came to her attention that the Registrant had not worked at those organisations.These allegations were found proved.

11. The original panel found that the statutory ground of misconduct to be made out.

12. In deciding the issue of impaired fitness to practise, the original panel stated:

“The Panel was of the view that the Registrant appeared to minimise his actions. Although he had admitted to Dr LW that he had not worked at the three posts, when she pointed out to him her view that his CV was misleading, he replied: ‘I am sorry you feel that way’. In respect of the addendum to his CV, it appeared to the Panel that the Registrant had some understanding of the requirement to explain the position regarding Cygnet Hospital, but he had not provided an adequate explanation within the CV to clarify that he had never worked for Cygnet. In addition he had omitted explanations in his CV in respect of the other two posts to clarify that he had never worked for Action for Children or Pulse.

In his representations to the HCPC the Registrant stated that he disagreed with the concerns that had been raised regarding his CV and did not accept that it may be misleading. The Panel was of the view that for someone with the Registrant’s professional experience he appeared to demonstrate little insight into his actions, either at the time or in his subsequent representations to the HCPC.

In all the circumstances, the Panel was unable to rule out that there remained a risk of repetition that the Registrant may in future include incorrect information within a CV and that he may do so dishonestly. It therefore concluded that in respect of the personal component, his fitness to practise is currently impaired.

The Panel went on to consider the ‘public component’.

In light of the Panel’s finding of misconduct in submitting a CV which dishonestly includes incorrect information, the Panel concluded that public confidence in the reputation of the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in this particular case. Similarly, the Panel concluded that professional standards would be undermined if it did not make a finding of impairment.

Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired in respect of the ‘public component’.”

13. In considering the issue of sanction, the original panel referred to the following aggravating and mitigating factors:

“Aggravating factors:

• The Registrant‘s actions were pre-meditated in the sense that he took the decision to prepare a CV containing incorrect information

• about his professional experience and then provided that CV in support of his application for a post;

• The incorrect information provided in the Registrant’s CV about his professional experience spanned three professional appointments; and

• The Registrant had limited insight into his actions.

Mitigating factors:

• The Registrant had a lengthy and distinguished professional career at a senior level, and there were no previous regulatory concerns;

• The reference provided to the Panel attested positively to the Registrant’s usual honesty and integrity in his practice;

• The dishonesty was not sustained in that the Registrant made admissions in interview when directly asked about his professional experience and made admissions in his representations to the HCPC; and

• The Registrant had engaged with the HCPC through correspondence and providing representations.”

14. The original panel considered the misconduct in this case was too serious to be concluded with anything less than a Suspension Order. In reaching that decision it stated:

“The Panel next considered a Suspension Order and concluded that this was the appropriate and proportionate sanction in the circumstances of this case. Although the Panel had found that the Registrant’s insight was limited at this time, it considered that a Suspension Order would provide the opportunity to the Registrant to reflect on his misconduct and to demonstrate that he had developed an appropriate level of insight. The Panel also considered that such an Order is required to maintain public confidence in the profession and to uphold professional standards.

The Panel considered that the length of the Order should be for 12 months. This is with a view to the Registrant demonstrating to the next Panel that he has reflected on his actions and has developed sufficient insight into them. The Panel also considered that public confidence in the profession would be damaged if any lesser period were imposed.

The Panel acknowledged that the Policy lists dishonesty as the type of case in which a Striking Off Order may be appropriate. However, in the context of the Registrant’s lengthy and distinguished career, the Panel was of the view that a Striking Off Order for this one incident of dishonesty would be unduly punitive. The dishonesty, while serious, was not at the most serious end of the scale, and the Registrant had not sustained the dishonesty on being challenged at interview. In light of this and given that the Panel has found that the Registrant may be able to develop sufficient insight over the course of a Suspension Order, the Panel is of the view that a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate at this time.

This Panel does not seek to fetter the discretion of a future reviewing Panel, but it considers that such a Panel may be assisted by any information which evidences a developing level of insight, including a reflective piece which:

• demonstrates the Registrant’s learning from his actions;

• demonstrates his understanding of the impact his dishonesty may have on public confidence in the profession;

• considers how he would avoid a repetition of his dishonesty in the future.”

Decision: 

15. The Panel considered with care the submissions made by Miss Simpson 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.

16. The Panel first considered the issue of current impairment. The Panel took account of the principle set out in Abrahaem v GMC [2008] EWHC 183 (Admin) that there is, in practical terms, a persuasive burden at a review hearing for the Registrant to demonstrate that he has “fully acknowledged why past performance was deficient and through insight, application, education, supervision or other achievement sufficiently addressed the past impairments.”

17. The panel at the final hearing found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired on both public protection and public interest grounds for the reasons stated above. That panel found the Registrant to have little insight into his actions and in suspending the Registrant indicated a review panel would be assisted by a reflective piece to demonstrate how, if at all, his insight had developed. The Registrant did not avail himself of that suggestion and has provided no reflective piece and indeed has not corresponded any further with the HCPC since the final hearing.

18. In the absence of such reflection, and in view of his non-attendance at this review hearing, the Panel could not be satisfied that he had developed insight into his dishonest behaviour and there therefore remained a real concern that the behaviour could be repeated. Accordingly, the Panel decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired on public protection grounds.

19. The Panel went on to consider whether a finding of impairment on public interest grounds was needed in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator. The Panel was satisfied that a fully informed member of the public, who was aware of all the background to this case, would have their confidence in the profession and the Regulator undermined if a finding of impairment were not made, given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct and his lack of insight and remediation.

20. Accordingly, the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on public interest grounds also.

21. The Panel then considered what sanction was both appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances and in doing so considered the HCPC Sanctions Policy. The Panel noted that, according to the Registrant, he had now been retired for well over two years and he had not engaged with the HCPC’s regulatory process since March 2018. He had not provided the necessary reflective piece and, therefore, had not been able to demonstrate that he had properly developed his insight into his dishonest behaviour. Accordingly, there was no indication that he was committed to resolving his failings. In such circumstances to take no action or make a Caution Order would not be appropriate. It was also apparent that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or workable because the Registrant was not committed to complying with such an order and in any event dishonest conduct is difficult to address with conditions.

22. In his email dated 27 June 2017, the Registrant indicated quite clearly that he had retired and he wished to withdraw from the process.

23. The Panel considered it had little choice but either to once again suspend the Registrant, or to remove him from the Register. The only purpose of further suspending the Registrant would be to allow him more time to reflect, show insight and demonstrate remediation. He had already had almost 12 months in which to do that. The Panel considered it was not sensible to continue the review process where it appeared that the Registrant was unwilling or unable to remediate his failings. In the absence of appropriate remediation or insight, or any evidence that the Registrant was prepared to engage with his regulator, the Panel decided the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to make a Striking Off Order.

24. Dishonesty is always said to be regarded as a particularly serious matter, whether or not it results in any harm to patients and whether or not it takes place within a registrant's professional practice. Honesty, integrity and trustworthiness are often said to be integral to practice and it can be said that a failure in these respects can undermine the trust the public place in the profession. It is against that background that Registrants found to have acted dishonestly will always be at severe risk of being struck off, particularly where they do not demonstrate remorse, a realisation that the conduct was dishonest and that there would be no repetition. The original panel gave the Registrant the opportunity to do this but he had chosen not to do so. The Panel also noted that the Presenting Officer had written to the Registrant and indicated that, subject to no new information form the Registrant, the HCPC would be seeking a Striking Off Order at today’s hearing, so he was on notice that this was a real possibility.

25. The Panel took into account the impact this may have on the Registrant, however this was outweighed by the need to protect the public. In any event, the Registrant had made it clear that he was retired and wished to withdraw from the process. There was also a public interest in appropriately dealing with cases where a Registrant had chosen not to comply with his regulator. Thus, whilst this may have been a disproportionate sanction at the time of the final hearing, the Panel did not consider it to be so now.

 

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Dr Anthony Linford from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Dr Anthony Linford

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
04/10/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off