Miss Catherine J Kirk

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH95870

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 07/12/2020 End: 17:00 07/12/2020

Location: This hearing is being held virtually.

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Physiotherapist with The Children’s Trust, you:

1) Did not ensure the safety of Child Patients in physiotherapy sessions in that you:

a) On or around 10 April 2013, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child A, in that you:

i. Did not ensure that the seat of a stationary bike was secure before use;
ii. Did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (a)(i).

b) On or around 14 June 2013, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child B, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the session;
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (b)(i).

c) On or around 06 December 2013, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child C, in that you:

i. did not ensure the Child was supported when you changed positions;
ii. Did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (c)(i).

d) On or around 10 June 2014, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child D, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the session;
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (d)(i).

e) On or around 01 October 2014, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child E, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the session;
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (e)(i).

f) On or around 13 April 2015, 28 April 2015 and 26 August 2015, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child F, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the sessions;
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the sessions described in Paragraph 1 (f)(i).

g) [Not proved].

h) On or around 18 September 2015, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child H, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the session;
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved in the assessment described in Paragraph 1 (h)(i).

i) On or around 22 September 2015, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent Child I from falling, in that you:

i. Initiated an activity which was inappropriate for Child I’s level of ability
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved in the assessment described in Paragraph 1 (i)(i).

j) On or around 01 March 2016, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child J, in that you:

i. did not appropriately supervise the session and / or ensure that a physiotherapy assistant was present.
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (j)(i).

k) On or around 08 April 2016, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child K, in that you:

i. directed him to move from the floor to a plinth and
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the activity.

l) On or around 27 April 2016, caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child L, in that you:

i. directed her to close her eyes whilst on a moving inclined treadmill; and
ii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1(l)(i).

m) On or around 13 June 2016, you caused and / or did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm to Child M, in that you:

i. directed the physiotherapy assistant not to support the Child;
ii. Initiated an activity which was inappropriate for Child M’s level of ability; and
iii. did not adequately assess the risk involved prior to the session described in Paragraph 1 (m) (i) – (ii).

2) The matters described in Paragraph 1 (a) – (m) constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

3) By reason of your misconduct and / or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. This is a hearing for the consideration and, subject to its consent, approval by the Panel, of an agreement for the voluntary removal, Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA), from the register of the name of Miss Catherine J Kirk (the Registrant). A copy of the VRA dated 3 December 2020, signed by the Registrant and by an official of the HCPC was before the Panel together with an appropriate letter signed by the Registrant, a Reflective Piece from the Registrant and an Agreed Statement. The Panel has read all these documents.

The Skeleton Argument
2. For the purposes of this hearing, the HCPC has submitted and the Panel has read a Skeleton Argument, signed by Mr Benjamin D’Alton and dated 7 December 2020 (the Skeleton Argument).

Service
3. The Panel has seen the Notice of today’s hearing dated 4 December 2020 which the HCPC sent by email to the Registrant at her registered email address. The Notice of Hearing made clear that this hearing would take place today as a virtual hearing. The Notice informed the Registrant of the time and date of this hearing. The Registrant has previously been given notice by email dated 6 November 2020 of a review of the Suspension Order made on 8 June 2020. The Substantive Review hearing was superseded by the present application for the approval of the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

4. Having heard Mr D’Alton on behalf of the HCPC, and having heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel was satisfied that good service of the Notice of Hearing has taken place.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
5. The Panel has seen an email dated 7 December 2020 from Mr Godric Jolliffe, National Legal Officer (Solicitor) of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which is in the following terms;
The Registrant has seen the HCPC’s skeleton argument and additional papers for the voluntary removal hearing on 7 December 2020.
The position remains that set out in my email dated 5 December 2020: the Registrant will not be attending the hearing or be represented. She has no objection to the hearing proceeding in her absence and asks the Panel to endorse the voluntary removal agreement and sign the notice of withdrawal.
I am copying this email to the presenting and hearing officer and the HCPC.

6. The email dated 5 December 2020 was in similar terms.

7. Mr D’Alton on behalf of the HCPC submitted that the Panel should consider the case in the absence of the Registrant.

8. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

9. The Panel was aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one to be taken with great care and caution. However, the Panel has decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The reasons are as follows:
• Service of the appropriate notice of this hearing has been properly effected.
• The Registrant has not applied for an adjournment.
• The Registrant has informed the HCPC that she does not wish to attend this hearing and is content for it to proceed in her absence.
• The Panel has kept in mind the guidance contained in the Practice Note issued by the HCPTS.
• There is no reason to suppose that an adjournment would result in the future attendance of the Registrant.
• There is a public interest in proceeding in order to bring these proceedings to a conclusion, which is the wish of both the Registrant and the HCPC.
• In these circumstances it is right to conclude that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself.

Background

10. The Registrant is a registered Physiotherapist.

11. On 20 June 2018, a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee considered a fitness to practise allegation against the Registrant at a final hearing. The full allegation is set out above. In sum, it was alleged that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her lack of competence, specifically that the Registrant had on multiple occasions failed to ensure the appropriate safety and supervision of a number of patients to prevent harm to them.

12. The matter was most recently reviewed on 8 June 2020. At the review hearing the panel imposed a six-month Suspension Order. The current order is due to expire on 18 January 2021. At this hearing the panel noted that the Registrant had not been practising in a clinical environment for four years.

13. On 10 November 2020 the Registrant’s representative contacted the HCPC to enquire on the Registrant’s behalf as to whether the HCPC would consider agreeing to the Registrant’s voluntary removal.

14. The HCPC reviewed the case and confirmed to the Registrant that the matter was suitable for voluntary removal, if the Registrant were able to provide evidence to show that she admitted the deficiencies in her clinical performance, showed insight and reflection as to the impact of their action and was able to show why she wanted to pursue voluntary removal.

15. In response the Registrant produced a reflective piece dated 3 December 2020, which the Panel has read. In this piece the Registrant fully admits and acknowledges the factual allegations proven, and the impact of these actions. The Registrant also speaks of her ongoing regret. The Registrant accepts that her fitness to practise remains impaired and states she has firmly concluded that she no longer wishes to practise as a Physiotherapist, but wishes to pursue a new career in another country.

16. The Registrant acknowledges she has not been able to remediate her failings, as she has not practised since the final hearing, but outlines she does realise the seriousness of the matters and allegations proven. She confirms she has no intention of practising as a physiotherapist in the future.

17. On consideration of the Registrant’s reflective piece, the HCPC concluded this matter was suitable for voluntary removal and a Voluntary Removal Agreement was drafted and sent to the Registrant via email on 4 December 2020.

18. The Registrant returned a signed copy of the agreement together with a signed Notice of Withdrawal on 5 December 2020.

Submissions by the HCPC
19. The submissions which are set out in the Skeleton Argument and which have been adopted and amplified by Mr D’Alton are in the following terms:
• In regard to public protection, given voluntary removal is equivalent in effect to a Striking-Off Order, and thus would prevent the Registrant from practising as a Physiotherapist, the HCPC submits that the necessary public protection would be ensured by this course of action.
• The HCPC would also highlight that the Registrant has not practised as Physiotherapist since 2016, and has expressed that she has no desire to do so in the future.
• In respect of the wider public interest, the HCPC submits that confidence in the profession and the regulatory process has been maintained by way of the findings of fact and sanction imposed at the final hearing, and the continuing orders that have subsequently been in place since. The HCPC seeks to resolve cases in a fair, just, and cost-effective way. The HCPC highlights in favour of voluntary removal that the Registrant has acknowledged her failings; has shown insight into her actions and their impact; and no longer wishes to practise as a Physiotherapist. The HCPC therefore submits, in all the circumstances, the most proportionate, fair, and expeditious means of disposal for this matter would be by voluntary removal.
• The HCPC therefore asks the Panel to consent to this matter’s disposal by voluntary removal, and for the Panel to therefore revoke the current Suspension Order.

The decision of the Panel
20. The Panel has considered the submissions of the HCPC as set out in the Skeleton Argument and adopted by Mr D’Alton. The Panel has further considered all the documents that have been referred to.

21. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

22. In deciding whether or not to approve the agreement for Voluntary Removal the Panel has had regard to the Practice Note published by the HCPTS in March 2018 and entitled Disposal of Cases by Consent.

23. The Panel has concluded that the VRA should be approved and that an order should be made in the terms set out below. Its reasons are as follows;
• The Registrant has admitted the Allegation in full. She has also admitted that her fitness to practise is thereby impaired.
• The public will be adequately protected by the voluntary removal of the Registrant’s name from the register, which will have the same effect as a Striking-Off Order. Such an outcome is also in the interests of the Registrant.
• There are no reasons of a public interest kind to require a hearing of the Allegation.

24. For all the reasons that are set out above, the Panel has determined to approve the outcome sought in the VRA with immediate effect. In particular the Panel agrees that the HCPC should be permitted to withdraw proceedings in respect of the Allegation and that the Registrant’s name shall be removed from the Register with effect from today’s date. The Panel also revokes the Suspension Order with immediate effect.

Order

That the HCPC may withdraw proceedings related to the Allegation set out above and the Registrant’s name is to be removed from the HCPC Register, with effect from 7 December 2020. The Suspension Order, which would otherwise expire on 18 January 2021, is to be revoked with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Catherine J Kirk

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/12/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
08/06/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
18/06/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
18/06/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice