Miss Karen Bennetts

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT60373

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 20/11/2020 End: 17:00 20/11/2020

Location: Virtual hearing - Video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

Between April 2013 and December 2016, whilst registered as an Occupational Therapist:

1. Your clinical reasoning and/or recording of your clinical reasoning for the recommendations made in respect of the following Service Users and/or the clinical reasoning was inadequate:

a. Service User 1

b. [not proven]

c. [not proven]

d. Service User 13

e. Service User 15

f. Service User 22

g. [not proven]

2. In relation to Service User 2, you:

a. Did not provide Service User 2 with a copy of the final Therapy Review.

b. Assessed the suitability of a property without Service User 2 being present.

c. Did not promptly send a letter to Homechoice regarding the bathing assessment you conducted for Service User 2

d. Did not include the results of a bathing assessment in a letter to Homechoice, as was directed in supervision.

3. In relation to Service User 3, you:

a. Recorded contradictory statements within the assessment.

b. Did not make a case recording of the assessment visit carried out on 6 July 2015.

4. In relation to Service User 4, you:

a. Did not make a case recording of the home visit carried out on 31 July 2015.

b. Recorded an assessment which lacked sufficient detail and/or was contradictory in places

5. In relation to Service User 5, you:

a. [Not Proven]

b. Recorded an assessment which lacked sufficient detail and/or was contradictory in places.

c. In relation to Service User 6, you recommended equipment that did not match the needs of Service User 6 and/or provided the service user with an assessment document which was inadequate.

6. In relation to Service User 7, you:

7. Did not make a case recording of the assessment visit carried out on 15 July 2015 in a timely manner.

a. Recorded an assessment which lacked sufficient detail and/or was contradictory in places.

b. Recorded an assessment that lacked clinical analysis of Service User 7’s situation

8. In relation to Service User 8, you did not make a case recording of the joint home visit carried out on 29 July 2015 and/or the further actions to be taken in the case.

9. In relation to Service User 9, you:

a. Did not consider adequately, or at all, the service user’s bathing needs.

b. Did not schedule a review of Service User 9.

c. Did not make a case recording of the assessment visit carried out on 15 June 2015.

d. Did not promptly submit the major adaption request

10. In relation to Service User 10, you did not undertake and/or record undertaking a review before closing the case.

11. In relation to Service User 11, you did not undertake and/or record undertaking a review.

12. In relation to Service User 11, you sent a housing letter instead of a housing support statement.

13. In relation to Service User 13, you did not adequately record the bathing assessment.

14. In relation to Service User 15, you ordered equipment which was not suitable for Service User 15.

15. In relation to Service User 16, you did not submit the major adaptation paperwork in a timely manner.

16. In relation to Service User 17, you:

a. Acted outside the scope of your practice, in that you provided Service User 17 with dietary advice.

b. Did not record a risk assessment within the therapy assessment in relation to a straight stair-lift.

17. In relation to Service User 18, you did not record an adequate risk assessment within the therapy assessment.

18. [Not Proven]

19. In relation to Service User 20, you did not submit the major adaptation paperwork in a timely manner.

20. In relation to Service User 23:

a. You did not make a case recording of the home visit carried out on 31 July 2015.

b. The assessment form you completed lacked sufficient clinical reasoning for the recommendations made.

21. In relation to Service User 24, you:

a. Did not make a case recording of the assessment visit carried out on 30 July 2015 in a timely manner.

b. [Not Proven]

22. In relation to Service User 26, you:

a. Did not make a case recording of the disclosure of abuse by Service User 26 and/or the safeguarding alert raised in relation to the disclosure in a timely manner.

b. Did not submit the recommendation for a Disabled Facilities Grant in a timely manner.

23. The assessment form you completed in relation to Service User 29 lacked sufficient detail and/or was contradictory in places.

24. The matters described at particulars 1 to 23 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

25. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence you fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proof of Service

1. In support of the application, Ms Knight submitted that service of notice of the hearing had properly been effected in accordance with the Rules.

2. Ms Knight stated that the Registrant was sent a Notice of Hearing on 21 October 2020 by post to her registered address. This Notice identified the date of the hearing, and confirmed that the matter would be dealt with by way of a virtual hearing. It also requested that the Registrant provide any written representations at least 14 days before this hearing.

3. The Panel has also had sight of a letter dated 6 November from the Registrant sent to the HCPC. That letter suggests that the Registrant has had sight of the Notice of Hearing as the heading of her letter states: “Re: Karen Bennetts reasons for declining review hearing set for 20 November 2020”.

4. The Panel is satisfied that Notice of the hearing had been properly served by post on 21 October 2020 to the Registrant’s last known address. The Registrant has not stated that she wishes to appear pursuant to Rule 13(3) of the Rules. The Panel is therefore satisfied that service of the Notice has taken place in accordance with the Rules.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

5. Ms Knight applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. She reminded the Panel that it can proceed to hear the matter in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules, if satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to serve the Notice of Hearing on the Registrant in accordance with the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant. A Panel must first consider whether notice of the proceedings has been served on the Registrant. The Panel must also have consideration of all the circumstances of the case when taking the decision to proceed in absence, balancing fairness to the Registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public.

6. Given the government recommendations on containing the current COVID-19 pandemic, the HCPC has decided to suspend all public hearings to protect the health and safety of its registrants and stakeholders. However, to ensure that it can continue to perform its statutory duties of protecting the public and maintaining the integrity of the register, the HCPC has arranged for this hearing to be considered remotely. Therefore, the HCPC submitted that the Registrant has been given sufficient notice of the proceedings and reasonable steps have been taken to serve the notice which has been sent to her registered address.

7. The Registrant has not made any application to adjourn, but the HCPC has produced an attendance note of a telephone conversation between Hayley-Jane Knight of the HCPC and the Registrant on 6 November 2020. That attendance note stated: “The Registrant said that she had received the NOH and would not be attending the hearing. She said that she had today posted a letter to us (second class) and explained her reasons for not attending in this. HJK said she would keep an eye out for the letter and confirmed that the hearing would be a virtual hearing if she did want to attend. The Registrant then said she had no intentions of attending at all, that she wanted her case closed and over with. She said that at the last hearing, she was made a mockery of.”

8. The Registrant’s letter of 6 November 2020 states: “As I have no available finance to employ a solicitor to represent me, I cannot face the hcpts unrepresented…..For future information please be aware that I do not intend to have any involvement with the hcpts or hcpc, this includes future reviews”.

9. Ms Knight submitted that the Registrant did not attend the Substantive Hearing, and that she has disengaged with the process. The Registrant had indicated that she wanted to be removed from the HCPC register and that she never intended to practice as an Occupational Therapist again.

10. It is therefore the HCPC’s submission that the Registrant appears to have voluntarily absented herself from attending the hearing, and deliberately waived her right to attend. Ms Knight submitted that, given the Registrant’s correspondence, a decision to adjourn this hearing would not secure her attendance at any later date. Furthermore, as this is a mandatory review of the current Order, it is in both the Registrant’s interests and in the public interest for a review of the statutory order to take place as scheduled. The consequences of not proceeding today would be that the Order would lapse on expiry and the Registrant would be automatically restored to the HCPC Register in circumstances where it has not been determined that she is fit to return to practice.

11. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who advised that the Panel’s discretion to proceed in the Registrant’s absence should only be exercised with the utmost care and caution. He referred the Panel to the cases of R v Hayward, Jones & Purvis in the Court of Appeal ([2001] EWCA Crim 168), and GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162. He advised that the Adeogba case reminded the Panel that its primary objective is the protection of the public and the public interest. In that regard, the case of Adeogba was clear that, “where there is good reason not to proceed, the case should be adjourned; where there is not, however, it is only right that it should proceed”.

12. The Panel was satisfied that notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered address by letter dated 21 October 2020. A copy of the notice was also sent to her by email on the same date. The Registrant had been informed of the date, time and original venue of the hearing and was subsequently informed that the case would be heard remotely. The Panel considered that the HCPC had made all reasonable efforts to serve the notice on the Registrant in accordance with Rule 11 of the Rules, that she had been provided with the means of knowledge as to when and where this hearing was to take place.

13. In reaching its decision, the Panel has taken account of the following:
⦁ Notwithstanding that the notice of this hearing was served on the Registrant on 21 October 2020, the Registrant has not responded to the application, other than to say that she will not be engaging with the review process;
⦁ The Registrant has not raised any objection to the case being heard remotely;
⦁ The Respondent has previously written to the HCPC indicating that she no longer wished to practise and that she would disengage with the process. In her email in relation to her first review hearing, she stated that “I wish to make it clear in writing that I will no longer be communicating with the HCPC”. Her letter of 6 November 2020 again stated that she no longer wished to engage with the review process;
⦁ The Registrant has not stated that she wishes to attend the hearing nor has she applied for an adjournment; and
⦁ This is a mandatory review of the substantive order imposed.

14. Having done so, and having considered the submissions made, the Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself. The Panel was satisfied that there would not be a significant risk of unfairness to the Registrant if it decided to proceed in her absence, and further recognised that there was a public interest in conducting a mandatory review of the Substantive Order currently in place prior to its imminent expiry. It has therefore decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
Preliminary Matters

Application to hear part of the hearing in private.

15. The Panel heard that matters relating to the Registrant’s health may be referred to during the course of the hearing. Ms Knight submitted that it was appropriate that those parts of the hearing be held in private.

16. The Panel had regard to Rule 10(1)(a) of the Rules whereby matters pertaining to the health of the Registrant should be heard in private. The Panel therefore agreed that, those matters relating to the Registrant’s health, should be heard in private.

Background

17. The Registrant was an Occupational Therapist with the HCPC employed by Cornwall Council (the Council) as a Band 5 Occupational Therapist from April 2013 until December 2016. Concerns around the quality of the Registrant’s work initially arose during her probation period. Towards the end of that Probation period, 6 months after the Registrant had joined the Council, those concerns remained. During her second probation Review, on 24 October 2013, the Registrant disclosed that she had a health condition. This disclosure was not volunteered but rather prompted by a manager. Upon learning of the Registrant’s health condition the manager directed the Registrant to contact ‘Access to Work’ (ATW) for the purposes of a referral. The manager also arranged for one to one supervision to continue on a fortnightly basis and for the Registrant’s probation period to be extended for a further 3 month period.

18. The ATW assessment took place on 3 December 2013 and reasonable adjustments were then put in place to support and assist the Registrant in her practice. She was also provided with extensive supervision for nearly three years.

19. The Registrant successfully passed her probation period on 15 January 2014. However, on 18 March 2015, a complaint was received from a service user (unconnected to these proceedings) about the quality of an assessment conducted by the Registrant. As a consequence of that complaint, the Registrant’s caseload was audited. The audit identified further areas of concern and an Improvement Plan was put in place effective from 13 April 2015, for a period of eight weeks.

20. On review of the improvement plan on 10 June 2015, there remained on-going concerns about the Registrant’s capability and standards of practice. The formal capability procedures were invoked, effective from 30 June 2015. In order to support the Registrant through this process she was allocated a new supervisor who would hold weekly supervisions with her, in addition to checking all her assessments and providing feedback.

21. Notwithstanding the additional support, by 27 January 2016, the Service Manager in Adult Social Services at the Council remained concerned that the Registrant’s ‘assessment of cases contained too many errors and omissions and lacked clinical reasoning’. For that reason a Stage 2 Capability warning was issued. In order to support the Registrant through this process she was assigned a mentor/clinical supervisor who was to assist the Registrant with all assessments for a 3 month period.

22. By April 2016 the mentor/clinical supervisor was of the view that “it would not be feasible to allow Karen to work without a high degree of supervision, much more than would normally be the case for a Band 5 OT with three years experience within this service (i.e. one session every six weeks would be the norm). In my opinion our service does not have the capacity to be able to continue to offer this intensive supervision.”

23. A capability review was held on 17 May 2016, in which it was decided to replace the mentor/clinical supervisor with a different supervisor. The Service Manager commented: “Following this 3 month period of intensive support, I propose that you now be allowed to work more independently and that I review your cases over the next 3 months. If there is not a significant enough improvement, I may need to convene a stage 3 hearing…’”

24. On 3 October 2016, Stage 3 Capability proceedings were initiated. The areas of on-going concern were identified as “a lack of clarity of clinical reasoning, omissions in service users assessments, poor recording in assessments including unprofessional language & statements that do not make sense, failure to follow supervisors instructions.” The Registrant left the Council’s employment in December 2016.

25. The Substantive Hearing Panel determined that the matters found proved did not amount to misconduct, but, save for particulars 2(b), 15 and 19 did amount to a lack of competence. It identified breaches of Standards 1, 2, 4, 10, 14 and 15 of the Standards of proficiency for Occupational Therapists in England.

26. In considering the question of impairment, the Substantive Hearing Panel concluded that “The Panel was of the view that all the conduct identified in this case is capable of remedy. However, there was no evidence before the Panel that any of it had in fact been remedied and in light of the repeated similar failures over a considerable period of time, during which reasonable adjustments had been made and intense supervision provided, there was every reason to believe the conduct would be repeated”.

27. In relation to insight, the Substantive Hearing Panel concluded that “the Registrant had demonstrated some insight in that she accepted she failed to keep certain records and that she had made some errors. However, she disputed the majority of the allegations and, in particular, those that alleged her clinical reasoning was inadequate. In the absence of insight into those failings the Panel could not be assured she would not repeat the same errors if allowed to practise without restriction. Furthermore, the Registrant clearly believes that Cornwall Council, and specific individuals within Adult Social Services, are largely to blame for the failures alleged against her and the Panel considered this to be indicative of a registrant with limited insight”.

28. It therefore concluded that there was a risk that the Registrant could in future put service users at unwarranted risk of harm. It considered that “if she were to repeat the same errors in the future, that would be liable to bring the profession into disrepute and would be in breach of one of the fundamental tenets of the profession, namely the need to act in the best interests of service users at all times. The Panel therefore found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be currently impaired on public protection grounds”.

29. The Substantive Hearing Panel further concluded that a finding of current impairment was required in order to uphold proper professional standards and confidence in the profession.

30. The Substantive Hearing Panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months, and recommended he provide to any future reviewing Panel:

1. the Registrant’s attendance at the review;
2. evidence of continuing professional development (CPD), including relevant training, online or otherwise, reading and/or shadowing;
3. a reflective statement; demonstrating how any CPD undertaken relates to the findings made at this hearing and demonstrating insight into those findings;
4. relevant up-to-date testimonials from any paid, or unpaid, employment in any area of activity.

First Substantive Review Hearing: 29 November 2019

31. The first substantive review hearing took place on 29 November 2019. At this hearing, the Registrant attended the hearing by telephone, but was not represented.

32. The Reviewing Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continued to be impaired on the basis of both public protection and the public interest. In the absence of any persuasive evidence of insight and remediation, the Reviewing Panel remained concerned that there was the risk of repetition of the failings identified. The Review Panel noted that the suggestions of the Substantive Hearing Panel had not been taken up, and there was no evidence before it of continuing professional development (CPD), relevant training, reading or shadowing, or a reflective statement that might demonstrate insight into the Registrant’s lack of competence.

33. The Reviewing Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained liable to put patients at unwarranted risk of harm in the future and that the Registrant remained impaired on the personal component of impairment.

34. Given the absence of remediation, the Reviewing Panel also concluded that the need to uphold confidence in the profession and the regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. It considered that the Registrant was not safe to practise unrestricted given her current impairment and the public interest required that she should not be in a position to practise unrestricted. It therefore concluded that a finding of current impairment was required on the public component of impairment.

35. The Reviewing Panel imposed a further 12 months’ Suspension Order, to enable the Registrant to address her failings and to develop her level of insight.

HCPC Submissions

36. Ms Knight submitted that the Panel’s role is to review the matter on the basis of the evidence available today, and decide whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, and if so, to decide what the appropriate sanction should be.

37. She reminded the Panel that under Article 30(1) of the Health Professions Order 2001, the Panel may:
a. extend the Suspension Order;
b. make any order it could have made at the time of the original Order being imposed or;
c. replace the Suspension with a Conditions of Practice Order, with which the Registrant must comply if she resumes practice.

38. Given that there has been no engagement by the Registrant since her last review hearing, Ms Knight submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. She submitted that the Registrant has not discharged the persuasive burden placed on her by the case of Abrahaem v GMC [2008] EWHC 183 (Admin). It remains the case that:
a. The Registrant has not demonstrated any further level of insight;
b. The Registrant has not provided any evidence of steps taken to remediate her lack of competence;
c. There must therefore remain a high risk of repetition of her lack of competence.

39. She referred the Panel to the provisions of Article 29(6) of the Health Professions Order which states:
“A striking-off order may not be made in respect of an allegation of the kind mentioned in Article 22(1)(a)(ii), 'lack of competence' or (iv), 'health' unless the person concerned has been continuously suspended, or subject to a conditions of practice order, for a period of no less than two years immediately preceding the date of the decision of the Committee to make such an order.”

40. She accepted that given the relevant date for computation of the relevant period would be less than two years, the option of a striking off order was not available to the Panel today.

41. She reminded the Panel that the purpose of the original Suspension Order was to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process, and to uphold and maintain proper standards of behaviour. Given that the Registrant has not demonstrated that she has taken steps to remediate her lack of competence, she submitted that failing to make a finding that the Registrant is currently impaired would be detrimental to the public interest, the maintenance of professional standards and would seriously undermine confidence in the reputation of the profession and the regulatory process.

42. In conclusion, she submitted that a further Suspension Order of not less than six months was appropriate.

Registrant’s submissions

43. No specific submissions have been provided either by, or on behalf of the Registrant. However, the attendance note of the telephone conversation with the Registrant on 6 November recorded that the Registrant was not practising, wanted the case over and had stated: “yes please strike me off. I never want to hear from you again”.

44. In the Registrant’s letter of 6 November 2020, she stated:
“I have no plans or intentions to work as an occupational therapist. Cornwall council and the hcpts have documented a very lengthy bias and slanderous case. The bias support given by the hcpts to Cornwall council is staggering. The public are unaware of this bias perspective because of the way in which the case is documented - by the hcpts. It is also not documented that I have not practiced since 2016. The public are not even aware of this. The public are only aware of my two years suspension. The hcpts did not make the public aware of the two years it took, to sift through evidence provided by Cornwall council. The latter being given an infinite time scale in which to gather evidence.
The hcpts and Cornwall council have damaged my career to an irretrievable point. It would be impossible for me to find employment as an occupational therapist. It has been four years since I have practiced, I have suffered two suspensions and the case lingers on. The hcpts needs to cease its dithering. I wish to work in a different occupation without my occupational therapy degree. My qualification is now irrelevant and does not form part of my CV.”

Legal advice

45. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive review to determine if the Registrant is fit to return to unrestricted practice. Its role was not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations nor was it to go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment.

46. The Legal Assessor advised that the Panel might find the questions formulated in the case of CHRE v NMC and Grant (2011) EWHC 927 (Admin) of some assistance, albeit slightly modified for these proceedings:
“Does the evidence before the Panel today show that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired by reason of his misconduct in the sense that he:
a) has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put a service user at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or
b) has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the profession into disrepute; and/or
c) has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the profession
d) …..”

47. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired, then the Panel must go on to consider what sanction, if any, should be imposed. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that, if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired, any of the options under Article 30 of the 2001 Order could be exercised by the Panel. He also advised the Panel that it should bear in mind the principles of fairness and proportionality and have regard to the Sanctions Policy document issued by the HCPTS. He reminded the Panel that any order that it makes under Article 30 should not be punitive in purpose, and that it should be the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public and/or otherwise would be in the public interest.
48. With reference to Article 29(6) of the Health Professions Order 2001, the Legal Assessor advised that it was not open to the Panel to strike the Registrant’s name off the register as the relevant two year period, between the date the substantive Suspension Order was imposed, until the date of today’s determination, has not passed. He also reminded the Panel of the principle derived from the case of Okeke v Nursing and Midwifery Council (2013) EWHC 714 (Admin) where it was held that any interim order did not count towards the two year period.

Panel’s decision

49. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel has also had regard to the HCPTS’s Practice Notes on Fitness to Practise Impairment and on Review of Article 30 Sanction Orders.

50. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration all the documentation before it, and the submissions of Ms Knight. The Panel considered that the Registrant had a persuasive burden to demonstrate she had both developed insight and had remediated her failings for her to be considered suitable for return to unrestricted practice.

51. There is no evidence or information before the Panel today that could satisfy it that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is no longer impaired. The Registrant did not fully engage with the final hearing nor has she engaged in today’s review hearing. There is no indication to suggest that the Registrant has started the remediation process including whether she has reflected on her past failings or by taking any of the steps suggested by the substantive hearing panel. There was no evidence before the Panel to demonstrate that she had undertaken any training or ongoing CPD to demonstrate that she had kept her skills up to date. The Registrant has unequivocally stated that she no longer wished to practise as an Occupational Therapist and that she no longer wished to engage with the regulatory process. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the personal component of impairment.

52. The Panel concluded that there was no information before it that could lead it to conclude that there was not an ongoing need for a restriction on the Registrant’s practice. In those circumstances, it concluded that public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process would be undermined if the Registrant were able to practise without restriction.

53. In the light of all of the above, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise also remains impaired on the public component of impairment.

54. The Panel then went on to consider what the appropriate and proportionate sanction should be, starting with the least restrictive. It bore in mind that the purpose of a sanction was not to be punitive, although a sanction may have that effect.

55. The Panel has also borne in mind that its over-arching objective is:
⦁ to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of the public;
⦁ to promote and maintain public confidence in the profession; and
⦁ to promote and maintain proper professional standards and conduct for members of the profession.

56. The Panel first considered taking no action but was satisfied that the Registrant’s failings were so serious that the public interest considerations could not be met by such an outcome. The Panel was not satisfied that there would be no risk to the public, or to public confidence in the profession by taking no action.

57. Given the Panel’s findings, it was also not satisfied that mediation was an appropriate sanction given that the particular circumstances of this case make such an outcome irrelevant.

58. The Panel next considered whether to impose a Caution Order in light of paragraph 101 of the Sanctions Policy. However it concluded such an order would not be sufficient to protect the public, nor would either be in the public interest. The Registrant’s failings were neither isolated, minor, nor limited in nature. Neither outcome restricted the Registrant’s practice and would therefore not adequately protect the public or safeguard the public interest.

59. The Panel next considered whether to impose a Conditions of Practice Order. It had regard to paragraph 106 of the Sanctions Policy but concluded that it would neither be appropriate nor proportionate. Whilst the Registrant’s lack of competence was capable of being remedied, the Panel has concluded, in light of the nature of her correspondence and lack of engagement in the process, that she lacks insight into her lack of competence, and would be unwilling to comply with any conditions that might be imposed. Rather than seeking to address her shortcomings, the Registrant considers the regulatory process to have been biased and slanderous.

60. In the circumstances, it concluded that it could not formulate appropriate or workable conditions to address the Registrant’s lack of competence, particularly given the Registrant’s lack of engagement and lack of demonstrable insight. The information before the Panel is such that the Panel cannot be satisfied that the Registrant is willing or able to comply with any conditions that may be imposed.

61. The Panel next considered extending the existing Suspension Order. In doing so, it has had regard to paragraph 121 of the Sanctions Policy. The Panel noted that the Registrant has not engaged in this review hearing, and has not availed herself, throughout that process, of the opportunity of demonstrating that she wished to return to practice. Similarly, there was no evidence before the Panel to demonstrate that the Registrant had developed insight or taken steps to address her failings such that the Panel can be satisfied that it was appropriate for the Registrant to return to unrestricted practice.

62. The Panel has had regard to Article 29(6) of the Health Professions Order 2001. The Registrant has not been continuously suspended from practice for a period of two years since 4 December 2018. As such, albeit by a shortfall of a short period of time, the Panel has concluded that the option of striking off is not available to it. However, that will not be the position at the end of this further period of suspension. If there is a continuing lack of engagement by the Registrant and an inability or unwillingness on her part to address her shortcomings, the next reviewing panel will have the option of imposing a Striking Off Order.

63. In all the circumstances, notwithstanding the Registrant’s non-engagement and stated intentions, the Panel nevertheless concluded that the appropriate and proportionate outcome, at this point in time, was to extend the Suspension Order for a further three months. This, the Panel hoped, would be a sufficient period of time to allow for the matter to be further reviewed at a time when Article 29(6) of the Health Professions Order 2001 will apply.

64. Should the Registrant decide that she does wish to engage with the review process, the Panel repeats the suggestions of the Substantive Hearing Panel that a reviewing panel might be assisted by the following:
⦁ the Registrant’s attendance at the review hearing;
⦁ evidence of continuing professional development (CPD), including relevant training, online or otherwise, reading and/or shadowing;
⦁ a reflective statement; demonstrating how any CPD undertaken relates to the findings made at this hearing and demonstrating insight into those findings;
⦁ relevant up-to-date testimonials from any paid, or unpaid, employment in any area of activity.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to further suspend the name of Miss Karen Bennetts from the Occupational Therapist part of the HCPC register for a further period of 3 months upon the expiry of the current order.

Notes

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 1 April 2021.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Karen Bennetts

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
01/03/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
20/11/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
29/11/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
26/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended