Mrs Ebele Nze

Profession: Dietitian

Registration Number: DT24917

Hearing Type: Consent Order Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 15/12/2021 End: 17:00 15/12/2021

Location: This hearing will take place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

As a registered Dietitian (DT24917) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence. In that:

 

1. Between 04 September 2017 and 31 December 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not record patient consultations on EMIS in a timely manner for the Service Users set out in Schedule A.

 

2. Between 04 September 2017 and 31 December 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not use the dietetics EMIS template to assess and conduct treatment plans for Service Users.

 

3. Between 03 October 2018 and 15 April 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not schedule appointments on the EMIS appointment diary for the Service Users set out in schedule B.

 

4. Between 11 October 2018 and 24 April 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not use the EMIS diary to indicate follow up requirements for the Service Users set out in Schedule C.

 

5. Between 21 February 2019 and 01 March 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not record the patient consultations on EMIS for Service User 71.

 

6. Between 26 September 2018 and 15 November 2019, whilst employed at Bromley Healthcare, you did not adhere to policies and procedures regarding record keeping, in that;

 

a. You completed handwritten records in a notebook

b. You stored handwritten records at your home

 

7. You did not inform the HCPC that you had been suspended from your duties on 09 January 2020.

 

8. You did not inform the HCPC that you had been dismissed from your role on 19 May 2020.

 

9. Between 15 October 2020 and 19 November 2020, whilst employed at CSH Surrey, you did not complete patient consultations notes in a timely manner for the Service Users set out in Schedule D.

 

10. Between 08 October 2020 and 19 November 2020, whilst employed at CSH Surrey, you did not process discharge letters to the patient and/or GP in timely manner for the Service Users set out in Schedule E.

 

11. Between 06 October 2020 and 12 November 2020, whilst employed at CSH Surrey, you did not process assessment letters to the patient and/or GP in a timely manner for the Service Users set out in Schedule F.

 

12. The matters set out in particulars 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 constitute lack of competence.

 

13. The matters set out in particulars 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 constitutes misconduct.

 

14. Your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

Schedule A

Service User 1

Service User 2

Service User 3

Service User 4

Service User 6

Service User 7

Service User 8

Service User 9

Service User 10

Service User 11

Service User 12

Service User 13

Service User 14

Service User 15

Service User 18

Service User 19

Service User 20

Service User 21

Service User 22

Service User 23

Service User 24

Service User 25

Service User 26

Service User 27

Service User 28

Service User 29

Service User 30

Service User 31

Service User 32

Service User 33

Service User 34

Service User 35

Service User 36

Service User 37

Service User 38

Service User 39

Service User 40

Service User 41

Service User 42

Service User 43

Service User 44

Service User 45

Service User 46

Service User 47

Service User 48

Service User 49

Service User 50

Service User 51

Service User 52

Service User 53

Service User 54

Service User 55

Service User 56

Service User 57

Service User 58

Service User 59

Service User 60

Service User 61

Service User 62

Service User 63

Service User 66

Service User 67

Service User 68

Service User 69

Service User 70

Service User 72

Service User 73

Service User 74

Service User 75

Service User 76

Service User 77

Service User 78

Schedule B

Service User 1

Service User 9

Service User 25

Service User 35

Service User 61

Service User 69

Service User 71

Schedule C

Service User 1

Service User 9

Service User 25

Service User 27

Service User 35

Service User 48

Service User 57

Service User 61

Service User 69

Service User 71

Schedule D

Service User B

Service User I

Service User J

Service User K

Service User L

Service User M

Service User N

Service User O

Service User P

Service User Q

Service User R

Service User S

Service User T

Service User U

Service User V

Service User W

Service User X

Service User Y

Schedule E

Service User A

Service User C

Service User D

Service User E

Service User J

Service User K

Service User L

Service User M

Service User S

Service User T

Service User AA

Service User BB

Schedule F

Service User F

Service User G

Service User H

Service User Z

Service User CC

Service User DD

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. The Panel first considered whether notice of this hearing had been served upon the Registrant in accordance with the requirements of Rule 3 of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).

2. The Panel had sight of email correspondence to the Registrant’s registered email address which confirmed the details of the allegation, the time, date and arrangements for the hearing and information about the Registrant’s right to attend and be represented, as well as the Panel’s power to proceed in her absence.

3. The Panel’s attention was also drawn to a telephone attendance file note dated 9 December 2021 of a conversation between Mitchell Reece, Case Manager and the Registrant and further email correspondence dated 10 December 2021 between Mitchell Reece and the Registrant, and between Mitchell Reece and Marc Walker, the Registrant’s representative. In that correspondence the Registrant confirmed her wish for the hearing to proceed today and both she and Marc Walker on her behalf indicated that she waived the standard 28 day notice period for scheduling a hearing.

4. The Panel heard the legal advice of the Legal Assessor.

5. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been served with notice of this hearing in accordance with Rule 3 of the Rules. It was further satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily waived her entitlement to 28 days’ notice of this hearing.

Proceeding in absence

6. The Panel then considered whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

7. The Panel considered the correspondence between Mitchell Reece, the Case Manager and the Registrant’s representative, Marc Walker. By an email dated 10 December 2021 at 08.29, Mr Walker indicated that neither the Registrant nor he would attend the hearing on the basis the parties were in agreement as to the proposed disposal. Further, by email on 10 December 2021 at 08.51 the Registrant confirmed to Mitchell Reece that she did not intend to attend the hearing but wished for it to proceed.

8. The Panel heard the legal advice of the Legal Assessor.

9. The Panel reminded itself that whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence is an exercise of its discretion which requires care and caution, having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, and balancing fairness to the registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public.

10. Given the Registrant’s indication in correspondence that she was in receipt of advice from her representative, and voluntarily absented herself from this hearing and wished for it to proceed in her absence, and bearing in mind the public interest in the expeditious resolution of proceedings, the Panel was satisfied that it was fair, appropriate and proportionate to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

11. From 3 March 2014, the Registrant was employed as a Band 6 Community Dietitian by Bromley Healthcare (‘Bromley’). On 1 April 2017, the Registrant took on the role of Band 7 Team Leader for the Bexley Service. The Registrant therefore had two roles at Bromley: the Band 7 Team Leader role for fifteen hours per week, and the Band 6 Community Dietitian role for seventeen and a half hours per week.

12. During the Registrant’s employment with Bromley, the Registrant did not record patient consultations on EMIS in a timely manner, she did not use the dietetics EMIS template to assess and conduct treatment plans, she did not schedule appointments on the EMIS appointment diary, she did not use the EMIS diary to indicate follow-up requirements, she did not record the patient consultations on EMIS for a Service User and the Registrant did not adhere to policies and procedures regarding record-keeping, as she completed handwritten records in a notebook and stored handwritten records at her home. On 9 January 2020, the Registrant was suspended from her roles in light of these allegations. On 19 May 2020, the Registrant was dismissed from these roles at Bromley.

13. The Registrant did not inform the HCPC that she had been suspended from her roles by Bromley. Further, the Registrant failed to inform the HCPC that she had been dismissed from her roles at Bromley.

14. The Registrant was reported to the HCPC by Andrew Hardman, Commercial Director at Bromley on 30 May 2020.

15. The Registrant was then employed as a Band 5 Locum Dietitian by Central Surrey Health (‘CSH’) from 28 September 2020 until 26 November 2020. Following the referral to the HCPC from Bromley, on 3 November 2020 the HCPC contacted Evelyn Umukoro, the Registrant’s line manager at CSH, requesting that she confirm whether the Registrant was employed at CSH and whether she had disclosed that she had been dismissed by her previous employer due to poor record-keeping. Evelyn Umukoro then reviewed the Registrant’s case-load and discovered that the Registrant had not completed patient consultation notes in a timely manner, the Registrant had not processed discharge letters to patients and/or their GPs in a timely manner, and the Registrant had not processed assessment letters to patients and/or their GPs in a timely manner.

16. At its meeting on the 26 February 2021, the Investigating Committee (IC) of the HCPC determined that there was a case to answer in relation to an allegation of impairment of the Registrant’s fitness to practise. The IC confirmed the allegation.

17. Following the outcome of the IC, Kingsley Napley LLP were instructed by the HCPC to undertake an investigation in relation to the allegation which has resulted in a bundle of documents that was placed before the Panel.

18. Simultaneously with the investigation, the Registrant liaised with the HCPC with a view to the proceedings being disposed of by consent. Upon being alerted to this on 10 May 2021, Kingsley Napley LLP thereafter communicated with the Registrant’s representative which resulted in this application being made, on the basis that it was agreed between the parties that Conditions of Practice should be imposed for a period of twelve months, subject to this Panel’s approval.

Submissions

19. The Panel heard submissions from Mr Bridges on behalf of the HCPC who referred the Panel to the skeleton argument of Kingsley Napley LLP on behalf of the HCPC dated 1 June 2021.

20. In its skeleton argument, the HCPC asked the Panel to exercise its discretion to dispose of the matter by way of consent for the reasons outlined below.

21. The HCPC submitted that disposing of the matter by way of consent would be a fairer and less stressful method of concluding it, as the Registrant has admitted the substance of the allegation and that her fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her misconduct and lack of competence.

22. The HCPC proposed that the Panel impose Conditions of Practice on the Registrant for a period of twelve months with effect from the date of the hearing. The Conditions of Practice were agreed between the parties and were the subject of a Consent Order that was now being placed before the Panel.

23. To address whether the proposed consensual determination would secure the appropriate level of public protection, on behalf of the HCPC it was submitted that the Registrant has also demonstrated insight by fully reflecting on her previous failings and completing further training on documentation and record-keeping. She had produced a positive reference from her current employer. The Registrant has therefore already started to take steps to address the shortcomings in her practice and therefore it was submitted that twelve months is a sufficient period of time to enable the Registrant to continue to address these issues under appropriate supervision. It was further submitted that the public will be protected by such an order, which is proportionate in the circumstances.

24. To support the HCPC’s submission that to dispose of the case by way of consent would not be detrimental to the wider public interest, the HCPC drew attention to the case of Cohen v GMC [2008] EHWC 581 (Admin) which held that the public interest test must be considered; specifically the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour, and maintain public confidence in the profession. On behalf of the HCPC it was submitted that the wider public interest is sufficiently protected by the Registrant agreeing to adhere to the proposed Conditions of Practice for a period of twelve months given the level of supervision of the Registrant and reporting requirement to the HCPC imposed by the conditions.

25. It was further submitted that if the case were to proceed to a final contested hearing a Conditions of Practice order was a potentially realistic and likely outcome in light of the circumstances; and that the proposed Conditions of Practice order was proportionate in that it adequately protects the public and gives the Registrant an opportunity to improve her practice whilst under the close supervision of an HCPC registered supervisor and subject to a Personal Development Plan.

26. The Panel read the bundle of documents placed before it including the skeleton argument, the Registrant’s completed consensual disposal request pro-forma and the draft Consent Order agreed between the parties and placed before it.

27. The Panel had reference to the Practice Note of the HCPC in relation to Disposal of Cases by Consent. It noted the reference within it to the relevant Practice Note in relation to Disposal of Cases by Consent and that it should not agree to resolve a case by consent unless it is satisfied that:

a. The appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and
b. Doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

28. The Panel heard the advice of the Legal Assessor.

Decision

29. The Panel was mindful that the task before it today was to determine whether to conclude the case on an expedited basis upon the terms of the draft Consent Order put before it or reject that proposal and set the case down for a full, contested hearing.

30. The Panel determined that the proposed agreed Conditions of Practice would secure the appropriate level of public protection. It took into account the evidence provided by the Registrant that supported the submission that she had demonstrated insight by fully reflecting on her previous failings and completing further training on documentation and record keeping. The Panel further had regard to a positive reference that was received from the Registrant’s current employer and regarded this as an important indicator of progress in the Registrant’s practice. The Panel concluded that a period of twelve months is a sufficient period of time to enable the Registrant to continue to address these issues under appropriate supervision. It determined that the proposed Conditions of Practice order is appropriate and proportionate to the risk posed by the Registrant to members of the public.

31. The Panel further determined that to dispose of the case by way of consent as proposed would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. It concluded that the wider public interest is sufficiently protected by the Registrant agreeing to adhere to the proposed Conditions of Practice for a period of twelve months given the level of supervision of the Registrant and reporting requirement to the HCPC imposed by the conditions.

32. The Panel considered that in the event this case were to proceed to a final contested hearing, a Conditions of Practice order was a potentially realistic and likely outcome in light of the circumstances; and that the proposed Conditions of Practice order was proportionate in that it adequately protects the public and gives the Registrant an opportunity to improve her practice whilst under the close supervision of an HCPC registered supervisor and subject to a Personal Development Plan.

33. In all the circumstances the Panel was satisfied that the Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 12 months in the terms proposed to be made by Consent was an appropriate and proportionate disposal of this matter.

 

Order

Conditions of Practice Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of the Registrant to show that, with effect from the date of this hearing for a period of twelve months, you, Ms Ebele Nze, must comply with the following Conditions of Practice. The conditions are:

1. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of [workplace supervisor] registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 21 days of the Operative Date. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.

2. You must work with [supervisor etc.] to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practice: record keeping/scheduling of appointments/referrals of service users/knowledge and application of relevant policies and procedures.

3. Within 1 month of the Operative Date you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.

4. You must meet with [supervisor etc.] on a monthly basis to review your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

5. You agree to [supervisor etc.] providing information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan. The HCPC require progress reports from [supervisor etc.] on a quarterly basis.


The Panel imposes a Conditions of Practice Order for 12 months from today’s date and the Consent Order takes effect from today. This Order will be reviewed before its expiry.

Notes

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 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.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Ebele Nze

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/12/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Consent Order Hearing Conditions of Practice
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