Ms Eilish Carthy

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT70654

Hearing Type: Consent Order Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 23/04/2020 End: 17:00 23/04/2020

Location:

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

As amended

While registered as an Occupational Therapist with the Health and Care Professionals Council and whilst in employment with Capita you:

1. Submitted overtime claims for work which had not been completed on those days, for:
a) 25 August 2018;
b) 26 August 2018;
c) 2 September 2018.

2. Your conduct in paragraph 1 was dishonest.

3. The matters set out in paragraph 1 and 2 constitutes misconduct.

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

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Service
1. The Panel was informed by the Hearings Officer that notice of the hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered email address on 31 March 2020. The Panel was satisfied that notice had been properly served as required by the Rules.

Amendment to the Allegation
2. The Panel made a minor amendment to include Particular 2 as a misconduct allegation. This was done to reflect the totality of the evidence. The Panel could see no injustice to making the amendment in this fashion.

Background
3. The Registrant is an Occupational Therapist who was employed as a Disability Assessor with Capita.

4. It was alleged that on 25 and 26 August 2018, and on 2 September 2018, the Registrant dishonestly submitted overtime claims for work that she had not completed on those dates. The Registrant’s actions were investigated by her employer after which, on 2 October 2018, she was dismissed summarily for gross misconduct. A subsequent appeal lodged by the Registrant with Capita upheld the dismissal.

5. On 17 September 2019, the HCPC wrote to the Registrant to request that she consent to the matter being disposed of without a hearing and to accept a Caution Order for three years in respect of the Allegation. In a letter dated 24 September 2019, the Registrant accepted the facts of the Allegation and admitted that, in consequence, her fitness to practise was currently impaired. She further outlined her acceptance of the sanction proposed by the HCPC.

Decision
6. The Panel had regard to the documentary evidence contained in the hearing bundle. It paid particular attention to the HCPC’s updated skeleton argument dated 3 April 2020. The Panel also had careful regard to documents submitted by the Registrant in advance of the hearing:
(a) The Registrant’s letter to the HCPC dated 24 September 2019;
(b)  A reflective piece entitled: ‘Reflection on current impairment of fitness to practise’ dated 24 September 2019; and
(c) A character reference dated 24 September 2019 from Ms Loretta Goudy, Team Lead Occupational Therapist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, where the Registrant currently works.
(d) A submission made by the Registrant’s legal representatives, dated 15 April 2020.

7. The Panel found the facts of the Allegation proved by reason of the evidence contained within the HCPC bundle and the Registrant’s admission as outlined in her letter dated 24 September 2019. The Panel noted that, in the same letter, the Registrant admitted that she was currently impaired and consented to the making of a Caution Order for a period of three years.

8. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the Practice Note, ‘Disposal of Cases by Consent’ and to the Sanctions Policy document issued by the HCPTS.

9. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct. The Registrant had acted dishonestly and had accepted that her actions constituted misconduct. She had submitted claims for overtime to which she was not entitled. As such she had fallen below the standards expected of a registered Occupational Therapist. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s actions were serious and amounted to misconduct.

10. The Panel next considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct. In her detailed reflective piece, the Registrant fully admitted her dishonesty and stated that she was ashamed and remorseful for what she had done. She accepted that she had breached the standards of her profession and that she had failed to act with professionalism and integrity.

11. The Registrant is currently working as a locum Occupational Therapist in a hospital setting. No issues or concerns had been raised in that time concerning the Registrant’s honesty or trustworthiness in general or, specifically, in relation the submission by the Registrant of her weekly timesheets to her employer for payment. She had completed an e-learning training course entitled, ‘Countering Fraud, Bribery and Corruption in the NHS’. In her reflective piece the Registrant stated, ‘I would never submit any overtime claim or any claim falsely and can only assure this unprofessional behaviour would never be repeated. The disciplinary and investigatory process has resulted in a change in my behaviour and I am deeply remorseful for my previous actions and behaviour.’

12. Having carefully considered the ‘personal component’, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had shown a significant degree of insight into her actions and had taken effective steps to remediate her misconduct. The Panel considered that the risk of repetition was very low. The Panel was satisfied that there were no grounds on which to make a finding of current impairment on public protection grounds.

13. The Panel next considered the ‘public component’. Although the amount of money falsely claimed by the Registrant in overtime was small (amounting to £41.81), the Registrant’s actions, nonetheless, were serious. She had abused the trust and confidence reposed in her by her employer by falsely presenting claims for overtime to which she was not entitled. She dishonestly represented that she had completed her allocated tasks at the weekend so as to avail of higher rates of pay. The Registrant’s actions fell below the standards expected of her by the public. The Panel therefore considered that public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as its regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made on public interest grounds.

14. The Panel carefully considered whether disposing of the case by consent would be detrimental to the wider public interest, having due regard to the nature of the Registrant’s misconduct.

15. The Panel recognised that members of the public would expect impairment as a result of such misconduct to be dealt with robustly and, where appropriate, in public.
 
16. The Panel carefully considered whether the public interest required that this matter be referred to a substantive hearing in public. The Panel had further regard to all of the matters listed in paragraphs 9 to 12 above. The Panel considered that a well-informed member of the public who was aware of the Registrant’s early admission as to the facts, insight, remorse, remediation and her previous exemplary character, would not require a public hearing in this case.

17.  For all of the above reasons, the Panel concluded that the disposal of the case by consent as proposed, would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

18. In considering the appropriate and proportionate sanction, the Panel considered that taking no further action would be insufficient to mark the seriousness of the conviction and would not proportionately deal with the damage caused to the reputation of the profession and the need to maintain proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

19. The Panel carefully considered the proposed draft Consent Order. The Registrant’s actions represented an isolated episode in an otherwise unblemished career as an Occupational Therapist. She had self-referred to the HCPC once the investigation into her actions was instigated by Capita and had engaged fully with her employer and the HCPC. There were no issues in respect of her clinical competence and the Registrant was highly thought of by professional colleagues as shown in the reference provided on her behalf. She had demonstrated insight and remorse. The Registrant had taken remedial steps by the completion of relevant e-learning and had reflected extensively on her actions. In light of all those factors, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s misconduct was highly unlikely to be repeated.

20. The Panel was satisfied that, in a case which involved admitted dishonesty on the Registrant’s part, the proposed Caution Order for three years was sufficient to secure the appropriate level of public protection. 

Order

The Registrant be subject to a Caution Order for a period of 3 years. 

Notes

Right of Appeal
You may appeal to the High Court in Northern Ireland against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.

Under Article 29(10) of the Health Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.  The Panel’s order will not take effect until the appeal period has expired or, if you appeal, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Eilish Carthy

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
23/04/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Consent Order Hearing Caution