Mrs Daniela Ionescu
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Allegations as found proven at the final hearing
While registered as a Hearing Aid Dispenser and employed at Scrivens Opticians and Hearing Care between 19 December 2016 and 1 February 2017:
1. You did not demonstrate the core competencies required to work safely and effectively as an autonomous practitioner, namely that you were unable to demonstrate that you could competently complete and/or complete parts of the following independently:
a) Pure Tone Audiometry
b) Aural impression taking
c) Hearing aid programming and/or fitting
d) Conducting a clinical case history
e) Explaining the results of assessments to patients
f) [Not proven]
2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute a lack of competence.
3. By reason of your lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Registrant qualified as an Audiologist in Romania in 2006. She worked there in the field of audiology for three years. She came to England and briefly worked as a Hearing Aid Dispenser between 19 December 2016 and 1 February 2017. During this period concern with her core competencies were observed.
2. The matter was referred to the HCPC. Following a substantive hearing the Registrant was found impaired by reason of a lack of competence and had a 12-month Suspension Order imposed on 30 January 2018. At every subsequent review of this order, it was extended further.
3. The Panel heard from the HCPC who indicated that this is a mandatory review. The HCPC position was clear, that in the absence of a decision that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired, subject to any evidence of remediation that the Registrant provided today, either a continuation of the Suspension Order in place or a Striking-Off Order was required.
4. The Registrant who was unrepresented, relied on the submissions made at the last hearing on 23 July 2020 but added to these orally. In effect, she indicated that although willing to remedy her lack of competence she had not been able to do so. She provided a number of reasons for her inability to do so, which included financial difficulties resulting from the loss of her job in July 2020. This in turn prevented her from completing an English language course, and perhaps her ability to know where to look for help in addressing her lack of competency. She said that without a mentor she did not know where to begin because the learning opportunities in England were not the same as in Romania, where her learning took place largely in college before qualification. She did mention that she had received seven months supervision before being able to practise unsupervised and that there was some on the job training in the form of presentations from other countries who shared their best practice.
Hearing in Private
5. The Registrant did want to take the opportunity to share with the Panel matters of a private nature that the Panel might consider relevant to its decision making. After taking the advice of the Legal Assessor and having heard no objection on behalf of the HCPC, the Panel agreed to go into private session to hear matters of a personal nature.
Decision on Impairment
6. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was referred to the HCPTS Practice Notes “Finding That Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’” and to the HCPC Sanctions Policy. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that it should first consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains currently impaired. She reminded the Panel of its powers at a mandatory review under Article 30(1) of the Health Professions Order if current impairment is found, and that it should impose the least restrictive order which appropriately protects the public and the public interest.
7. The Panel carefully considered the information presented by the
Registrant, which included material put before the last panel including a reflective statement. The Panel acknowledged the Registrant had engaged with the regulatory process in appearing today, and in making her submissions. However, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s lack of competence had not been addressed. The Registrant had been frank and had not attempted to suggest otherwise.
8. The Panel considered that the demonstrated lack of competence was capable of remediation but this remediation has not been completed. While the Registrant’s responses showed that she had continued to indicate motivation for addressing her past failings, and indicated insight to the extent that she recognised that she had work to do, it noted that the Registrant has not been able to engage in sufficient remediation.
9. A combination of a global pandemic and personal difficulties had impacted this, but the Panel found that there were steps which the Registrant might have taken, such as making more applications for voluntary placements where registration was not needed, using the British Society of Audiology resources or other free online resources which she might have accessed.
10. The Panel was concerned by the heavy reliance of copied text from authorities as partial evidence that the Registrant was making an effort to remediate, provided at the last hearing. She produced no further evidence today. Further, the Panel did not have evidence before it of any searches conducted for online training, engagement with online audiology communities via Facebook or LinkedIn which might have been used.
11. The Registrant told the Panel that she knows that she needs to be more prepared to return to work. She did not indicate that she was ready to return to practice at this time, and was disappointed that the energy she had felt at the last review had not been able to be carried through by her to now.
12. Having taken into account all the information before it, the Panel
considered that there remains a risk to the public. While the
Registrant’s admissions into her deficiencies reflect some insight, they also indicate current impairment. It concluded that members of the public would be concerned if the Registrant, who has admitted gaps in her ability which pose a potential risk to the public, and who appears to accept that she remains impaired, were found not be to impaired. Public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be undermined. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the grounds of public protection and the wider public interest.
20. The Panel considered the available sanctions and referred to the HCPC Sanctions Policy. It applied the principle of proportionality and carefully considered the sanctions in ascending order of seriousness.
21. The Panel considered that it would not be appropriate to impose no
order or a Caution Order because the public would not thereby be
protected and the wider public interest would not be adequately
22. The Panel considered whether it could formulate a Conditions of Practice Order. However, the Panel concluded that no conditions could be formulated which would not be tantamount to suspension. Further, a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or workable as the Registrant has acknowledged gaps in her knowledge which needed addressing.
23. The Panel spent a considerable period of time evaluating whether a further period of suspension would be appropriate and proportionate to address public protection and the wider public interest issues. Unfortunately, the Panel concluded that this was not the case.
24. The Panel is aware that a Striking Off Order is a sanction of last resort. Nevertheless, the Panel takes the view that this would be the only appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose. Paragraph 101 of the HCPC Sanctions Policy states that ‘such a disposal is appropriate where a Registrant has been suspended for two years continuously, and fails to address a lack of competence’. The Panel noted that despite having had three years to address her lack of competence, the Registrant had made very little progress. The Panel had no confidence that the Registrant would sufficiently address her deficiencies were it to impose a further Suspension Order.
ORDER: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Daniela Ionescu from the Register.
A Hearing was heard via video-link on 27 January 2021 when the Panel imposed a strike off.