Mrs Tracey Hatton
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As a registered Biomedical Scientist (BS36570) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of a health condition, in that:
1. You have a physical and/or mental health condition as set out in Schedule A.
1. On or about the 23 March 2020 and acting in accordance with Government recommendations concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, the HCPC decided to suspend all public hearings. The HCPC also decided that during the period of suspension, there would be a new process whereby Notice of hearings would be sent by email.
2. The Panel is satisfied on the basis the documentation which it has been shown that the Registrant has been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the new process. The Panel has seen an email dated 1 October 2020 which was sent to the Registrant at her registered email address which gives notice of the time and date of today's hearing to consider a Voluntary Removal Agreement.
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
3. The Panel has considered whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel has seen an email dated 16 September 2020 from the HCPC to the Registrant asking her for dates on which she would not be able to attend a hearing to consider a Voluntary Removal Agreement. In response, the Registrant made it clear that she does not intend to attend “any hearings”. She indicated that she does not have any witnesses to call and suggests that the HCPC set a date which is convenient to them. The Panel has also seen another email dated 19 November 2020 from the Registrant to the HCPC in which she states, “I will not be attending the hearing and there will be no representatives”.
4. The Panel has decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. In reaching this decision, the Panel was mindful that it should exercise particular care before doing so. The Panel has taken note of the matters set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and has also received and accepted legal advice.
5. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has voluntarily waived her right to be present. The Panel notes that the Registrant has not sought an adjournment and it is satisfied that there is nothing to be gained in adjourning this matter as an adjournment would not result in her future attendance. The Registrant made clear in her email of 16 September 2020 that she would be grateful if the hearing “could be sooner rather than later. This matter has already taken a substantial amount of time”. The Panel also takes the view that there is a clear public interest in notified hearings being heard expeditiously and at the allotted time. In these circumstances, the Panel has decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
Voluntary Removal Agreement
6. The Panel has seen the signed Voluntary Removal Agreement which it is asked to approve at this hearing. The Voluntary Removal Agreement has been signed by the Director of the HCPC and by the Registrant. Under the terms of this Voluntary Removal Agreement, the HCPC agrees to withdraw all proceedings against the Registrant, and the Registrant, in consideration of that withdrawal, agrees:
a. to resign from the HCPC Register;
b. to cease to practise as a Biomedical Scientist or use any title associated with that profession, and
c. that, if the Registrant at any time seeks to be readmitted to the HCPC Register, in considering any such application the HCPC shall act as if the Registrant has been stuck off the Register as a result of the Allegation.
7. The Registrant is a registered Biomedical Scientist (BMS). She was employed as a BMS with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust). On 27 February 2019, the HCPC received a referral from the Trust which set out concerns that the Registrant was not fit to practise due to her ill-health. The concerns involved multiple episodes of sickness absence from 2004.
8. The Trust informed the HCPC that the Registrant had been referred to Occupational Health and at a meeting on 5 February 2019, the Occupational Health assessment concluded that the Registrant was not well enough to carry out her role as a BMS, even with workplace adjustments.
9. On 19 May 2020, a panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in respect of the following Allegation:
“As a registered Biomedical Scientist (BS36570) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of a health condition, in that:
- You have a physical and/or mental health condition as set out in Schedule A."
10. Prior to the Case to Answer decision of 19 May 2020, the Registrant in an email dated 21 June 2019 to the HCPC, stated “I am not currently employed and I don’t intend to seek employment as a BMS in the future. I want to relinquish my registration and be left alone”.
11. The Registrant sent a further email to the HCPC dated 6 November 2019 stating “Hello, I have not practised since Sept 2018. I have accepted early retirement and will not be working as a BMS again”.
12. Following a full investigation of the referral, the HCPC sent the Registrant a Notice to Admit Facts in which the Allegation was set out in full. The Registrant signed and dated this on 30 June 2020. The HCPC sent an email to the Registrant dated 7 July 2020 in which it informed her that it considered the matter was suitable for disposal by way of a Voluntary Removal Agreement. In the email, the HCPC explained that this disposal would require the Registrant to admit the Allegation and confirm that her fitness to practise is currently impaired. It referred her to the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent, a copy of which was attached to the email.
13. The Registrant responded by email on the same date, stating “Hello, I would like to proceed with the route of a voluntary removal. I understand that my episodes of anxiety and depression have impaired my fitness to practice. I am not currently employed. I do not intend to seek employment as a BMS at any point in the future”.
14. On 30 October 2020, the HCPC sent the Voluntary Removal Agreement to the Registrant by post to her registered address. In the email, the HCPC made it clear to the Registrant that her co-operation and participation in the consent process would not automatically lead to the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement being approved by this Panel. The Registrant signed the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement and returned it to the HCPC, where it was received on 19 November 2020.
15. On 19 November 2020 in an email to the Registrant, the HCPC confirmed that it had received the signed Voluntary Removal Agreement and explained that the matter would now be set down for hearing, asking her to confirm whether she would be attending and whether she would be represented at the hearing. The Registrant responded to that email stating “I will not be attending the hearing and there will be no representatives”.
16. In reaching its decision, the Panel has taken account of the HCPTS Practice Note on “Disposal of Cases by Consent”. It has received and accepted legal advice. It has reviewed the terms of the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Panel has also had regard to the submissions of Ms Sheridan for the HCPC.
17. The Panel has taken into account all the information put before it, including:
(i) the full and detailed bundle of documents that was put before the Investigating Committee Panel, and
(ii) the Registrant’s stated wish for her name to be removed from the Register and the fact that she has signed the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement.
18. The Panel is mindful that it should only approve the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement if it is satisfied that voluntary removal of the Registrant’s name from the Register would secure an appropriate level of protection for BMS service users and that it would not undermine public confidence in the BMS profession or in its regulatory body.
19. Ms Sheridan submitted that a voluntary removal secures the necessary protection of service users as its effect is equivalent to a strike-off order, a sanction that is not available to the Health Committee. Ms Sheridan also submitted that voluntary removal of this Registrant would not be detrimental to the wider public interest, as there are no matters in the Allegation which concern the wider public interest, which would require being determined at a final hearing. The Registrant has admitted the substance of the Allegation, she has indicated that she does not wish to practise as a BMS in the future and her voluntary removal from the Register will have the same effect as a strike-off.
20. The Panel notes the Registrant’s engagement with the regulatory process. The Registrant has admitted the Allegation in full and accepts that her fitness to practise is impaired on grounds of her health condition. The Panel accepts that the Registrant no longer intends to practise as a BMS, and it notes that she has taken early retirement. The Panel also accepts that the Registrant is aware that if, after 5 years, she did apply for re-admittance to the Register, her application would be considered by the HCPC as if she had been struck off the Register on the facts set out in the Allegation.
21. The Panel has decided that it would be appropriate to permit the Registrant to voluntarily remove her name from the Register. The Panel is satisfied that service users will be adequately protected as (i) any application by the Registrant for re-admittance to the Register cannot be made for 5 years from the date that her name is removed from the Register and (ii) her application will be treated as if she had been struck off the Register on the facts set out in the Allegation and will be made in light of her full admissions to the Allegation.
22. The Panel is also satisfied that an informed member of the public would not consider that public confidence in the BMS profession would be undermined in any way by allowing the Registrant to remove her name from the Register. The fact that she has been subject to proceedings brought by her regulator has already served to maintain public confidence in the BMS profession.
23. In these circumstances, the Panel has decided to approve the Voluntary Removal Agreement.
The Panel grants the application for voluntary removal and directs the Registrar to remove the name of Mrs Tracey Hatton from the Register.
No notes available
History of Hearings for Mrs Tracey Hatton
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|14/12/2020||Health Committee||Voluntary Removal Agreement||Voluntary Removal agreed|