Mrs Agnes C Sproul

Profession: Radiographer

Registration Number: RA35384

Hearing Type: Voluntary Removal Agreement

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 21/12/2021 End: 17:00 21/12/2021

Location: This hearing is being held remotely via video conference.

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

 

As a registered Radiographer (RA35384) your fitness to practise is impaired by
reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence, In that:

1. In or around January 2019 you X-rayed the wrong shoulder of a patient

2. In or around February 2019 did not follow the Wrightington, Wigan and
Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Identification of Patient
Policy in that you did not cross identify the patient via their wrist band

3. In or around 17 December 2019 you x-rayed the wrong elbow of a patient

4. In or around 19 February 2020 you set up an X-ray incorrectly in that you
selected automatic exposure controls, leading to overexposure of the
patient

5. The matters set out in paragraph 1 to 4 above constitute misconduct and/or
lack of competence

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

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was satisfied that the notice of hearing dated 9 December 2021 was in proper form and had been appropriately served on the Registrant in compliance with the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 as amended.

Proceeding in Absence

2. Mr Lloyd applied to the Panel for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel received legal advice, which it has accepted.

3. The Panel was satisfied that in view of the Registrant’s email dated 14 December 2021 and other correspondence in the hearing bundle she has voluntarily absented herself from the hearing. In view of the nature of the application, it is in the Registrant’s own interests and in the wider public interest for the hearing to proceed today.

Conduct of the Hearing Partly in Private

4. Mr Lloyd applied for part of the hearing to be conducted in private in relation to any matters raised concerning the Registrant’s health. The Panel received advice from the Legal Assessor which it accepted.

5. The Panel decided that those parts of the hearing that raised matters concerning the Registrant’s health were to be conducted in private.

Amendment

6. Mr Lloyd applied to amend the Allegation. In substance, the amendment was to make clear that the particulars concerned four different patients. He submitted that there was no unfairness or prejudice to the Registrant by reason of the proposed amendments, which are minor in nature and serve to distinguish the affected patients referred to in the Allegation from one another, and therefore provide clarity. Notice of that proposed amendment had been given to the Registrant in the HCPC’s letter dated 24 September 2021.

7. The Panel received advice from the Legal Assessor, which it accepted. The Panel was satisfied that the amendments proposed were appropriate in the circumstances and granted Mr Lloyd’s application.

Background

8. On 16 September 2020 the HCPC received a referral from the Registrant’s former employer, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (‘the Trust’). The Registrant had been employed as a Band 6 Radiographer from 30 January 2017 until her resignation on 25 February 2020.

9. In January 2019 the Registrant x-rayed the wrong shoulder of Patient A. A referral to Occupational Health was made and Access to Work were consulted and made recommendations to assist the Registrant with her work. Access to work recommendations, a performance plan, reporting to another member of staff and a move to a different site were all put in place to support the Registrant.

10. In February 2019, December 2019 and February 2020 three further clinical incidents took place. Following these incidents, a decision was taken to remove the Registrant from clinical practice. In addition, it was noted that the Registrant had a higher-than-average performance history where images were below an acceptable standard. The Registrant resigned when a Stage 3 Performance process was on-going. The Trust continued that process, which concluded in August 2020.

11. An interview has been undertaken with LD, Directorate Manager at the Trust. He provided evidence of the various clinical incidents which were raised in relation to the Registrant’s diagnostic capability and the measures that were put in place to support her. He also provided information on the disciplinary process and relevant documentation from the Trust.

12. The Registrant did not engage with the investigation until a response to one of Kingsley Napley’s emails chasing for a response on 31 May 2021. In this correspondence, the Registrant verified her identity and stated she was having major surgery the next day. Following a request for further information about this surgery, the Registrant replied on 8 June 2021 providing details about her current medical condition and provided some comments regarding the fitness to practise concerns.

13. By letter dated 30 September 2021 the Registrant wrote to the HCPC, stating,

‘.. I wish to pursue a voluntary removal agreement in respect of this matter with the consent of the panel should they find it appropriate in these circumstances ..’

14. The Registrant returned the signed Voluntary Removal Agreement on 15 December 2021, a copy of which is in the hearing bundle.

Submissions and Legal Advice

15. The HCPC relied on the contents of the Practice Note of the HCPTS, Disposal of Cases by Consent, March 2018 (‘the Practice Note’). It was submitted that, in all the circumstances, voluntary removal from the Register would be an appropriate means of resolving the current matter. The HCPC submitted that a voluntary removal is equivalent in effect to a strike-off from the Register, the necessary public protection would be ensured by this course of action.

16. The HCPC also submitted that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by way of voluntary removal. It is submitted that this case does not raise concerns in regards to the wider public interest to such an extent that the matter must be disposed of at a final hearing. The HCPC emphasised that the Registrant has admitted the substance of the Allegation and that voluntary removal from the Register will have the same effect as a strike-off. It was submitted that these factors are sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour.

17. It was therefore submitted that the Voluntary Removal Agreement is an appropriate and expeditious way of dealing with this matter and the HCPC invited the Panel to approve the proposed arrangement.

18. The Panel received advice from the Legal Assessor, which it has accepted.

Decision

19. The Health Professions Order 2001 as amended does not refer to consent arrangements for the disposal of cases. However, the Practice Note sets out the considerations to enable a Panel to approve, where suitable, the disposal of cases by consent.

20. The Practice Note states that a Panel should not agree to resolve a case in this way unless it is satisfied of two things: firstly, that the appropriate level of public protection is being secured and, secondly, that doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

21. The Panel accepted Mr Lloyd’s submissions. The necessary public protection would be ensured by the proposed voluntary removal of the Registrant from the Register. Such a step is equivalent to a striking-off order. Such a level of protection is appropriate in the circumstances.

22. This case does not raise concerns as to the wider public interest to require that the matter be disposed of at a final hearing. The Registrant has admitted the substance of the Allegation and as her voluntary removal from the Register will have the same effect as a striking-off order, public confidence in the profession will be maintained and standards of conduct declared and upheld by the voluntary removal agreement. Therefore, it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by way of voluntary removal.

23. The Panel was also satisfied that in view of the contents of her letter dated 30 September 2021, the Registrant had understood that the arrangement required the approval of the Panel.

24. Therefore, in the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that it was appropriate to approve the voluntary removal agreement and it decided to do so.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mrs Agnes C Sproul from the Registrar with immediate effect

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Agnes C Sproul

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
21/12/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Voluntary Removal Agreement Voluntary Removal agreed