Mrs Emily C Reacher
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Allegation as the registrant is as follows:
By reason of your mental and/or physical health, your fitness to practise as a Paramedic is impaired, as set out in Schedule A.
(iii) [Not proven]
Proof of Service
1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been e-mailed to the Registrant’s registered e-mail address on 27 July 2021 at 14.56 pm.
2. The Panel noted that the e-mail to the Registrant confirmed, in accordance with government guidance on containing the COVID-19 pandemic, that the HCPC has decided to suspend public hearings to protect the health and safety of its registrants and stakeholders. However, to ensure that the HCPC can continue to perform its statutory duties of protecting the public and maintaining the integrity of the register, it had arranged for this hearing to be heard remotely via video conference. The date and time of the review hearing was confirmed in the Notice of Hearing, and the Registrant was offered the opportunity to participate. The Panel further noted that, although the Registrant did not respond to the request to confirm whether she would be attending the hearing, the HCPC received from Microsoft Outlook at 14.57 pm on the same day, 27 July 2021, confirmation that the e-mail containing the Notice of Hearing had been delivered to the Registrant’s e-mail address. Finally, the Panel noted that, on 16 August 2021, Ms Sampson, the Case Presenter, had e-mailed the Registrant reminding her of the date of the hearing and of the suggestions made by the previous Panel as to what documentation and/or information this Panel might find useful but that Ms Sampson had confirmed during her submissions that no response had been received.
3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was satisfied that the Notice of Hearing had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 of the Rules and that the Registrant had been given a reasonable opportunity to participate.
Application to proceed in private
4. Ms Sampson applied for the entirety of the hearing to be heard in private, on the basis that the Panel was sitting as a Panel of the Health Committee and that all matters essentially concerned the Registrant's health.
5. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on 'Conducting Hearings in Private'. The Panel was of the view that the case related exclusively to matters concerning the Registrant's health, and as such it was not appropriate for such matters to be aired in public. It was, therefore, satisfied that it was justified to hear the entirety of the case in private, in accordance with Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).
Proceeding in Absence
6. Ms Sampson made an application for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, as permitted by Rule 11 of the Rules.
7. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note "Proceeding in Absence" and the chronology of events as set out above.
8. The Panel determined that it was reasonable and in the public interest to proceed with the hearing for the following reasons:
a. The HCPC had made reasonable and sufficient efforts to provide the Registrant with the opportunity to participate in these proceedings. In these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant's non-attendance represented a deliberate waiver of her right to participate in these proceedings by video-conference.
b. There was no application before the Panel to adjourn the hearing and it had no confidence that the Registrant would attend on an alternative date, given her lack of engagement and failure to respond to either the Notice of Hearing or the follow up e-mail from Ms Sampson. The Panel therefore concluded that re-listing this review hearing was unlikely to serve any useful purpose.
c. The current suspension order is due to expire on 23 September 2021 and therefore it was in the public interest to have a mandatory review of that order.
d. The Panel appreciated that there may be some disadvantage to the Registrant in not being able to give evidence or make oral submissions. However, the Panel concluded that this potential disadvantage was outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that the hearing is heard and concluded expeditiously.
Order: The Registrar is directed to extend the suspension of the registration of Ms Emily Reacher for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the current order.
The order imposed on 25 August 2021 will apply from 23 September 2021.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 23 September 2022.
Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.
Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.