Miss Neelam Dosanjh

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL03721

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/09/2019 End: 12:00 16/09/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

While registered as a Practitioner Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council, you:

1. Used the title of Doctor and / or allowed yourself to be described with the title of Doctor when you do not have the qualifications to do so:

a. On or around 13 September 2011, in an e-mail to colleagues;

b. On or around 05 December 2011, in a letter;

c. On or around 28 May 2012, in an e-mail to a colleague;

d. On or around 09 November 2012, in an article titled 'When Mentalisation Breaks Down: Suicide, Self-harm and Violence';

e. In that you co-authored a report entitled 'The Case For a Charter For Psychological Wellbeing and Resilience in the NHS' in or around 2015;

2. Your actions at Paragraphs 1(a) – (e) were dishonest.

3. The matters set out in Paragraph 1 (a) – (e) and Paragraph 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background

1. The Registrant is a Clinical Psychologist. She completed an MSc in Clinical Psychology in 1992. She was later admitted as a Chartered Psychologist after a successful period of supervised professional practice. In 2014, East London Foundation Trust (the Trust) concluded an internal investigation into an allegation that the Registrant was using the title "Doctor" without the necessary qualifications. That allegation was upheld and the Registrant was given a final written warning to remain on her file for 18 months.

2. In 2016, the HCPC received an anonymous complaint alleging that the Registrant had used the title 'Doctor' repeatedly since 2007 without the necessary qualifications.

3. Following an investigation, the HCPC identified a number of documents and publications in which it is alleged that the Registrant dishonestly used the title 'Doctor' or allowed herself to be described as such. The publications and documents are set out in the Allegation at Particulars 1 (a) to (e).

4. At the outset of the hearing the Registrant admitted the factual elements of allegations 1 (a) to (e) in so far as the title of 'Doctor' was used. However, she did not accept she, had allowed herself to be described as 'Doctor'. The Registrant did not admit that she had been dishonest.

5. The Substantive Hearing Panel found all the above particulars proved, and that the Registrant’s fitness to practice was impaired. That Panel determined that a period of suspension of six months was the appropriate sanction to be imposed that would permit the Registrant the opportunity to gain insight into her misconduct and to mark the seriousness of the misconduct.

Submissions

6. The Panel received a bundle of documents prior to the hearing that included the following:

(a) A supportive email from one of the Registrant’s patients addressed to the HCPC, which also outlined the how suspension of her therapist (the Registrant) had adversely affected her;

(b) Correspondence between the Registrant and the HCPC;

(c) A reflective statement by the Registrant;

(d) A statement from the Registrant’s Ethics’ trainer;

(e) References from colleagues and supervisees;

(f) Testimonials from clients;

(g) Log of the Registrant’s continuing professional development.

7. Ms Simpson outlined the background of this case to the Panel. She drew the Panel’s attention to the decision of the previous panel and the reasons for their findings.

8. Ms Simpson told the Panel that the HCPC’s position was neutral in regard to this review hearing. She said that the HCPC accepted that the Registrant had been proactive in gaining insight and has provided a detailed reflective piece.

9. Miss Dosanjh gave evidence and apologised to the Panel for her actions. The Panel took the opportunity to test the Registrant’s insight by asking her questions.

10. Miss Dosanjh told the Panel that the time that she was suspended gave her the opportunity to think about her misconduct and to gain insight into her responsibilities as a regulated professional. She told the Panel that she had reflected upon her action and has gained insight into what it meant to be a regulated professional, and how her actions impacted upon the reputation of her profession and her colleagues, and also her patients. She told the Panel that she understands that honesty is the bedrock of any profession and that, at the time, she had not given sufficient attention to the ethics of using or allowing to be used, the title of “Doctor”.

11. Miss Dosanjh accepted that she had not given any consideration to her actions at the time and she identified to the Panel why she had not done so. She told the Panel that, at the time, she did not think how she allowed the pressures of her various roles to cause her to lose sight of personal accountability and personal responsibility. Miss Dosanjh told the Panel that, at the time, she was in a role in which did not feel equal to her peers and felt that her status was not as credible. She said that the role she was undertaking at the time had a national profile and she felt overwhelmed. She recognised that she used the title “Doctor” in order to gain her status and confidence in herself in her leadership role. She told the Panel that she has since worked upon her self-esteem and confidence issues. She outlined to the Panel the alternative ways she could have used to address those issues at the time, such as finding a mentor to help her with her leadership skills, undertaking training and also having a support network.

12. Miss Dosanjh outlined to the Panel the changes she will be making to her professional life, which includes having a peer group who are supportive and to whom she is able to bring ethical issues. She will have monthly face-to-face meetings with the peer group and be able to talk about the process that she has been through and to demonstrate to them her transparency and accountability. Part of the purpose of those meetings is for her colleagues to ensure that she is maintaining the highest standards possible by challenging her, and to provide a reflective space for her to have continuous insight into her work. She offered to continue to see her Ethics’ trainer if the Panel considered it necessary.

13. Miss Dosanjh also told the Panel how she has changed the parameters of her work and will no longer take on roles that would put her in such a situation again. Miss Dosanjh told the Panel that the Ethics course has helped her on this journey to full insight and the Ethics’ trainer is willing to continue to meet with her.

14. Miss Dosanjh told the Panel that she was grateful to her colleagues for referring this matter to the HCPC and that the public opprobrium has caused her to gain a proper understanding of what it meant to be a regulated professional and the importance of the code of ethics. She told the Panel of the training that she had undertaken, which was not just confined to ethics but also included all aspects of the standard of conduct expected of a Practitioner Psychologist.

Decision:

15. In reaching its decision, the Panel took into the Legal Assessor’s advice. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration the oral testimony of the Registrant, all the documentation before it, and the submissions of both parties. In particular it noted the following factors:

a) The reflective statement and oral evidence of the Registrant;

b) The positive references from her peers in the profession and other professional colleagues;

c) This is a case of misconduct where the issues of insight and remediation are of great importance; and

d) The engagement of the Registrant with the process and her commitment to remaining in the profession.

16. Taking all of the above into consideration, the Panel determined that the Registrant has now demonstrated full insight and that the risk of repetition is low. At the substantive hearing the panel felt that she had not fully demonstrated her insight, which this Panel determines she has now done. She has expressed remorse and has put her misconduct into context and accepted full responsibility.

17. The Registrant has taken action to remediate her shortcomings and submitted evidence of the efforts made and the results of such efforts. Whilst sanctions are not to be punitive in nature, the Registrant has clearly learnt the lesson intended by the public component for the sanction being imposed at the substantive hearing.

18. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant is not liable in future to put the public at risk of harm, nor bring the profession into disrepute, nor breach a fundamental tenet of the profession, nor act dishonestly.

19. The Panel is also satisfied that the public interest has been satisfied in that the Registrant has been held to account, that proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations, would countenance the Registrant’s return to practice to continue her service to her patients.

20. Therefore the Panel determines that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired. The Panel then considered whether to allow the Order to lapse upon expiry on 18 October 2019, or to exercise its powers under Article 30(2) of the 2001 Order to allow the Suspension Order to lapse on its expiry. The Panel determined that in the light of the nature of the misconduct and the importance of public confidence in the profession and the regulator it would not be appropriate to exercise that power.

Order

Order: The current order is to be permitted to lapse upon expiry on 19 October 2019.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Neelam Dosanjh

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/09/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
21/03/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
05/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard