Dr Olga Taylor
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1. The Registrant attended the hearing by telephone but was unrepresented.
2. In 1997, the Registrant and her husband opened a private
laboratory now called The Taylor Galkina Laboratory Ltd in Bournemouth. This business was established for the Registrant to use her acquired knowledge of neuroscience and she chose urine as the medium to evaluate the activity of the nervous system.
3. The first contact from Patient X came in 2014, although he never met the Registrant in person. According to the Registrant, he was suffering from a number of complex health problems, including anxiety, depression and insomnia.
4. The Registrant conducted a HPLC test on a urine sample provided to her by Patient X. This was followed by a urine analysis report dated 24 November 2015, which was sent to the Patient, who subsequently approached his General Practitioner. On the basis of the content of the Registrant’s report, Patient X was referred to EM, Consultant in inherited Metabolic Diseases at the University College London NHS Foundation Trust. As a result, EM assessed Patient X and conducted further tests on him, including a plasma test. EM was concerned about the Registrant’s actions in respect of her assessment of Patient X and consequently informed the Chair of the Federation of Clinical Scientists who subsequently reported the concerns to the HCPC.
5. The substantive hearing of the HCPC Allegation took place between 3 and 6 December 2018. It was determined, by the substantive hearing panel, that particulars 1(a), 1(c), 1(d), 1(e), 1(f), 2(a), 2(b), 2(c) and 2(d) were found proved and amounted to misconduct. However the substantive hearing panel did not find the facts in respect of particular 1(b) proved.
6. The substantive hearing panel determined that the Registrant was currently impaired and imposed a 9-month suspension order. The substantive hearing panel provided the following reasons for their decision:
“Although the panel accepts that the Registrant is well-meaning and has the best interests of her patients at heart, the results and the report of the urine analysis together with her emails had the potential to confuse Patient X with its provision of a significant
amount of misleading information. Indeed, it may well have led to causing him anxiety and psychological harm.
When questioned, the Registrant’s evidence about her recent professional development was, at best, vague, and the Panel’s view is that the Registrant is not up to date with her Continuing Professional Development (‘CPD’). In this context, the Panel also judged that the Registrant is not familiar with current biomedical science practice and methodology.
In the view of the Panel, the Registrant’s evidence demonstrated that she was unclear and unconvincing about accreditation and quality assurance in respect of her laboratory.
Doubtless, these factors were a contributory cause to the Registrant’s inability to understand the proper limits to her scope of practice”.
7. In respect of its decision on impairment, the substantive hearing panel stated that the Registrant’s conduct was remediable although, for the Registrant to demonstrate remediation she would need to “recognise the error of her ways” and unless she did so, there was a high likelihood of repetition of her misconduct.
8. Further, in respect of the public component the substantive hearing panel found that to fail to find the misconduct of the Registrant as currently impaired, in light of its own findings, would have undermined confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.
9. When imposing the nine-month suspension order, the substantive hearing panel also made suggestions as to how a future review panel might be assisted. The substantive hearing panel’s suggestions were as follows:
(i) a reflective piece to address the identified failings – in particular, in relation to her scope of practice;
(ii) evidence of up to date CPD as a Biomedical Scientist which addresses failings identified by the Panel;
(iii) any up to date references and testimonials;
That panel also recommended that the Registrant should provide evidence that she has visited a diagnostic laboratory in order to acquaint herself with the standards adopted therein.
10. At the first review on 30 August 2019 the HCPC submitted that the Registrant remained currently impaired and that the current Suspension Order should be replaced with a Strike-off Order.
11. The HCPCsubmitted that whilst the misconduct was not at the most serious end of the scale Registrant bore the persuasive burden in terms of satisfying the Panel that she had made progress in respect of the substantive hearing panel’s concerns. The HCPC submitted that the Registrant had not provided any evidence of remediation, insight or up-to-date continuous professional development. Finally, the HCPC submitted that the Registrant had failed to engage in any meaningful way with the findings made by the previous panel.
12. At the first review the Registrant did not provide any submissions for the Panel to consider.
13. That Panel found that there was a lack of information or evidence to satisfy it that the Registrant had taken any steps towards addressing the concerns found by the substantive hearing panel. In particular, that Panel noted that the Registrant had not provided any of the information suggested; for example up to date evidence of how she has developed and reflected on the identified failings and in particular her scope of practice. That Panel noted that the only engagement made by the Registrant, since the Suspension Order was imposed, was correspondence indicating that she would i) not be attending today’s review hearing and ii) expressing her views on the substantive review panel’s findings,
which she did not accept.
14. That Panel also noted that the Registrant had failed to provide any evidence of up to date CPD as a Biomedical Scientist, focusing instead, on her criticism of the HCPC and its expert witnesses.
15. That Panel decided that it could not be confident that the Registrant had insight or that she had remediated her failings and therefore there was the risk that the Registrant would repeat her misconduct. The Panel was also satisfied that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if the Registrant was allowed to return to unrestricted practice.
16. As a result, that Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on both the public and personal components.
17. That Panel decided that the Registrant should be given a further opportunity to satisfy a future review panel that her fitness to practise is no longer impaired. The Panel therefore decided that the Suspension Order should be extended for a period of six months. That was to allow the Registrant a further opportunity, in view of her recent difficult personal circumstances, to reflect on her failings and to demonstrate remediation of her misconduct if she wished to do so.
18. That Panel considered a Striking-off Order but decided that it would be disproportionate at that time because of the Registrant’s personal family circumstances.
19. The Panel noted that the Registrant could apply for an early review of the Order if her circumstances changed.
20. That Panel also informed the Registrant that the next review panel may be assisted by the following:
(i) her attendance at a future review hearing;
(ii) a written reflective piece addressing the identified failings – in particular in relation to her scope of practice;
(iii) evidence of up to date CPD as a Biomedical Scientist which addresses failings identified by the substantive hearing panel;
(iv) up to date references and testimonials; and
(v) evidence that she has visited a diagnostic laboratory in order to acquaint herself with the standards adopted therein.
21. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that the reviewing Panel’s task today is to consider whether all the concerns raised in the original finding of impairment have been sufficiently addressed. In practical terms this places a “persuasive burden” on the Registrant to demonstrate at a review hearing that she has fully acknowledged the deficiencies which led to the original finding and has addressed that impairment sufficiently through insight, application, education, supervision or other achievement.
22. The Panel noted that the review process is not a mechanism for appealing against or ‘going behind’ the original finding that the registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. The Panel must consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and if so, whether the existing order or another order needs to be in place to protect the public.
23. The key issue which needs to be addressed is what, if anything, has changed since the current order was imposed or last reviewed. The factors to be taken into account include:
• the steps which the Registrant has taken to address any specific failings or other issues identified in the previous decision,
• the degree of insight shown and whether this has changed,
• the steps which the Registrant has taken to maintain or improve her professional knowledge and skills,
• whether any other fitness to practise issue have arisen,
• whether the Registrant has complied with the existing order.
24. The decision reached must be proportionate, striking a fair balance between interfering with the Registrant’s ability to practise and the overarching objective of public protection.
25. The Panel exercised its own professional judgement in deciding whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired to the extent that the Panel should impose a further sanction to take effect from the expiry of the current sanction and if so, what the appropriate sanction is. In making this decision the Panel applied the usual considerations as to the test of current impairment and the purpose of sanctions.
26. The Registrant provided written representations in advance of the hearing and attended the hearing by telephone during which she answered questions from the HCPC. In order to reach its decision the Panel took into account the submissions from the HCPC and the evidence provided by the Registrant. The Registrant told the Panel that she continues to work in the laboratory on a daily basis. It was not clear to the Panel if the work that the Registrant does there requires her to be registered.
27. None of the evidence submitted by the Registrant addressed the critically important issues raised by the Panel in 2018 and again at the first review in August 2019. The evidence the Registrant provided for this review continued the same theme as the evidence she had provided for the first review; her focus was on expressing her disagreement with the panel’s findings and her criticism of the expert witnesses called by the HCPC.
28. The Panel today noted that although on the last occasion the Panel had tried to assist the Registrant by setting out what information the Registrant might want to provide today, she had not taken advantage of that. The Panel asked the Registrant about the suggestions made by the previous panel which are set out at paragraph 21 above. The Panel was concerned by some of the Registrant’s answers, for example the Registrant told the Panel that she “does not need” to do
any CPD. The Panel also noted that she referred to some of the recommendations as “nonsense”.
29. The Panel was also concerned that the Registrant appeared to believe that her written submissions (criticising the findings of fact made against her) amounted to a reflective piece addressing the identified failings in particular in relation to her scope of practice. The Panel concluded that this was further evidence of the Registrant’s lack of insight into her shortcomings.
30. The Panel received an email purportedly from Patient X dated 24 February 2020 in which he explained that he continued to take a variety of over the counter supplements as suggested by the Registrant and that the therapeutic effects from these have been good so far. The Panel took account of this positive message but noted that it does not address the Registrant’s misconduct.
31. The evidence before the Panel today clearly demonstrates that the Registrant is no further forward than she was in December 2018. On that occasion the Panel found that “her misconduct is remediable, although for it to be remedied, the Registrant has to demonstrate that she recognises the error of her ways. Unless she does so, in the judgement of the Panel, there is a high likelihood of repetition of this misconduct. She seems to the Panel, at the moment, incapable of appreciating what the true role of a registered Biomedical Scientist is.” The Panel today found the Registrant showed no insight into her misconduct, that she was dismissive of the Fitness to Practice process and that she showed no inclination to modify her behaviour. Therefore, the Panel was sure that there is a high risk that the Registrant will repeat her misconduct.
32. The Panel has borne in mind the need to uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process. The Panel concluded that, because the Registrant has not improved her insight or modified her behaviour over the 14 months since she was first suspended, a finding of current impairment is necessary in the public interest.
33. The Panel therefore concludes that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired in relation to both the personal and public components.
34. The Panel then went on to consider the appropriate sanction. The Panel has borne in mind that sanction is a matter for its own independent judgement and that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public. Also, that any sanction must be the least restrictive order that would protect the public interest.
35. The Panel considered a Caution Order but given the nature and seriousness of the misconduct and the Registrant’s continuing refusal to accept her mistakes, a Caution Order would not provide adequate public protection or uphold standards.
36. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order but decided that there were no conditions that were proportionate and workable in circumstances where the Registrant had shown disregard for the regulatory process. The Panel took account of the Sanctions Policy which states that a Panel should be satisfied that the Registrant can be expected to comply with conditions. The Registrant’s response to the regulatory process and the guidance given to her by the Panel on two previous occasions meant that the Panel could not be sure that the Registrant would comply with conditions.
37. The Panel went onto consider a further period of suspension and decided that would be inappropriate because it would serve no useful purpose. Fourteen months has passed since the Registrant was first suspended and throughout that time she has demonstrated a lack of engagement in reflective practice. There was no evidence before the Panel to indicate that a further period of suspension would change that.
38. Therefore the Panel decided that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction that would adequately protect the public and the public interest is a Striking Off Order
The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Dr Olga V Taylor from the register from the date that this order comes into effect.
No notes available