Miss Edwina Lynn

Profession: Physiotherapist

Registration Number: PH100147

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 23/02/2021 End: 17:00 25/02/2021

Location: Virtual via video conference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

Allegation (as amended by the Panel on 23 February 2021):

During the course of your employment as a registered Physiotherapist with Atherapy Limited ("Atherapy"):

1. In relation to Patient A, between October and November 2018, as set out in Schedule 1 you:

a) provided treatment at a discounted rate without prior authorisation; and/ or

b) accepted cash payments for treatment;

2. Your conduct at Paragraph 1(b) above was dishonest, in that you:

a) knew that the money had been paid to you in exchange for services you had provided as part of your employment by Atherapy;

b) did not notify Atherapy of the cash payment received;

c) did not transfer the money to the company bank account;

d) knew that you were not entitled to keep the money.

3. Between November 2018 and December 2018, you cancelled and/ or rearranged appointments with patients as set out in Schedule 2;

4. Your conduct at Paragraph 3 above was misleading and/or dishonest, in that the reasons you provided to patients for cancelling and/ or rearranging their appointments were untrue.

5. The matters set out in Paragraphs 1 - 4 above constitute misconduct;

6. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Application to amend the Allegation

1. Mr Tarbert on behalf of the HCPC, applied to amend the Allegation so as to delete “around” and replace the month of September 2018 with that of November 2018 in particular 3 of the Allegation. The Registrant was informed of the HCPC’s intention to make this application at this hearing by a letter dated 18 May 2020. Mr Tarbert stated that the amendment was required so as to better reflect the evidence that will be adduced by the HCPC. Mr Sykes on behalf of the Registrant stated that there was no objection to the amendment. Having heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel directed that the Allegation should be amended in the terms sought.

Admissions by the Registrant

2. Prior to the commencement of this hearing, the Registrant submitted a witness statement [her written statement], the contents of which she confirmed and adopted in the course of this hearing. In her written statement the Registrant admitted the allegations that are set out in particulars 1, and 2.  In respect of the allegations that are set out in particular 3, she admits that she had rearranged the appointments for the Patients in Schedule 2, but she does not admit that she had cancelled their appointments. In respect of particular 4 she states, “I accept that my conduct was misleading and dishonest but ask the Panel to see it in the context of the circumstances outlined above”. In respect of particular 5 [misconduct] the Registrant states that “I accept that my actions constitute misconduct and I am very sorry for this. This is something that I have not and will not repeat in the future and understand that it was poor judgement on my behalf”.

3. The Registrant’s admissions though relevant, are not conclusive and the Panel has determined to hear the entirety of the evidence. In respect of the allegations of misconduct and impairment to fitness to practise, the Panel is aware that these issues are matters for the judgment of the Panel and that there is no burden or standard of proof in respect of either.

Procedure

4. The Panel has determined to consider first the allegations of fact, misconduct and impairment to fitness to practise. The Panel will then consider separately, and only if appropriate, any issue of sanction that may arise.

 

Background

5. The Registrant is a Physiotherapist who was employed as a Senior Physiotherapist by Atherapy Limited (‘Atherapy’) between 12 June 2017 and 19 December 2018.

6. In November 2018, CS, Group Practice Manager, noticed substantial changes to the Registrant’s client diary, for example that appointments were frequently being cancelled and re-booked or cancelled altogether. CS began monitoring the Registrant’s client diary and reviewed email correspondence between the Registrant and her clients. This led to concerns that the Registrant had provided false reasons to clients for rearranging or cancelling appointments. A concern was also raised that the Registrant had accepted a cash payment from a client and provided a client with a discounted rate without prior authorisation. CS subsequently brought her concerns to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer.

7. On 19 December 2018, a disciplinary hearing took place over the telephone in respect of this matter, during which the Registrant submitted her resignation from her role at Atherapy.
Summary of the evidence and other material before the Panel by the HCPC

8. The HCPC case was supported by the oral evidence of the witnesses, CS and AB. Both have provided written statements which the Panel has read. The statement made by CS is dated 02 January 2020 and that made by AB is dated 6 February 2020.

9. CS is employed by Atherapy as the Group Practice Manager and Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer. 

10. AB was at all material times employed by Atherapy as the South Regional Manager. He joined Atherapy in July 2014. At the time of the allegations, AB was the Registrant’s line manager. AB is registered as a Physiotherapist with the HCPC. In around April 2020, AB left the employ of Atherapy.

11. CS gave oral evidence and responded to questions. Her oral evidence was in all substantive respects consistent with the terms of her written statement. However, at the request of Mr Tarbert, she identified some differences regarding times and dates, between the underlying material contained in the exhibits and the conclusions, set out in the body of her statement. However, Mr Tarbert confirmed that these discrepancies were of minor significance and did not go to the substance of her evidence. In brief summary her evidence was as follows;

• She described to the Panel the procedures which Atherapy had in place for arranging and re-arranging appointments between clients and the relevant physiotherapist.

• In November 2018 she noticed that there were a lot of changes to the Registrant’s appointments of which she was not previously aware, especially as regards a Friday afternoon or an evening. As a consequence, she started to monitor the Registrant’s client diary. She became aware of appointments which had been moved to the following week or cancelled. She was concerned by the frequency of these changes.

• As a consequence of a conversation that she had with a client as regards an appointment that had been cancelled by the Registrant, CS phoned the Registrant, who told her that she had felt unwell and had cancelled her appointments. CS told the Panel that if a member of staff became unwell they were expected to call the Head Office to inform that office that they would not be at work.

• As a consequence of her conversations with the client and the Registrant, CS looked through the Registrant’s emails in order to identify appointments that had been rearranged. As a result of this research, CS prepared a schedule which is reflected in Schedule 2 to the Allegation. This schedule purports to identify the patients who had had their appointments rearranged by the Registrant and the reason given by the Registrant for doing so. CS states that the reasons given by the Registrant were untrue, in that on the stated dates she was not double booked and was not at a private hospital.

• CS confirmed that as a result of the Registrant’s actions in rearranging appointments, there was a loss of revenue to Atherapy. Had the Registrant informed Head Office of the rearrangement, the vacated slots might have been filled by a fee-paying client.

• On reviewing the Registrant’s emails, CS became aware of email correspondence between Patient A and the Registrant. The correspondence disclosed that as shown in Schedule 1 to the Allegation, the Registrant provided treatment at a discounted rate and received two cash payments totalling £100 for two sessions. CS confirmed that the agreement with Patient A was contrary to the policy of Atherapy and had not been authorised by the Registrant’s line manager. CS further confirmed that the Registrant had not informed Atherapy of the payment and had not accounted to Atherapy for the cash payment that she had received.

• As a result of her concerns, CS reported the matter to the Chief Executive Officer. CS was present at a disciplinary hearing conducted on 19 December 2018. That meeting was attended by the Registrant.  A transcript of the meeting was made from an audio recording of the meeting. That transcript is annexed to the written statement of CS and the Panel has read it. The Registrant was informed of the concerns that she had rearranged appointments, that she had given the clients inaccurate explanations for the rearrangements and that she had accepted the cash payments. The Registrant admitted that she had acted as alleged. On being told that she would be suspended pending a further meeting to discuss the concerns, the Registrant said that she wanted to resign her role. This she subsequently did by an email, which the Panel has seen.

12. AB gave oral evidence and responded to questions. His oral evidence was consistent with the terms of his written statement. In brief summary his evidence was as follows:

• He began by confirming the accuracy of his written statement.

• He described the standard induction which Physiotherapists received when they joined Atherapy. As he was not the Registrant’s line manager when she joined Atherapy, he was unable to describe the induction that she received.

• He described the format and frequency of the supervision meetings that he had undertaken with the Registrant. He confirmed that she did not raise with him any specific issues as regards sickness or absence from work. She had however raised concerns about keeping up with her administrative duties and the need to block out more admin time.

• He described the briefing that he has received from the Chief Executive Officer regarding the concerns about the Registrant’s conduct, which led to the disciplinary hearing on 19 December 2018 and the other information made available to him prior to that meeting.

• He described the disciplinary hearing which took place on 19 December 2018. He met the Registrant “at her site of work”. The Chief Executive Officer and CS attended via a video call. An audio recording was made of the meeting and a transcript of the recording was subsequently made and has been read by the Panel. He outlined to the Registrant the concerns about her conduct and told her that she did not have to make a formal response at that time, though a full investigation would be made into work laptops and emails and that the meeting would reconvene in two days. He said that the Registrant admitted to him that she had lied to the patients about the reasons for needing to rearrange their appointments. He commented that ‘she appeared to me to be shocked and embarrassed that she had been caught. Edwina Lynn then stated that she wished to resign from her role with immediate effect. It appeared to me that she wanted to draw a line under what had happened and move on. My perception was that she had hoped by resigning the process would be finished on the day”.

• He described the procedure then operated by Atherapy for the booking and rearranging of appointments. He stated that he was aware that the Registrant had told a number of patients that she had to cancel appointments as she was required to provide cover in a private hospital. He confirmed that whilst the Registrant did on occasion provide cover at the hospital, she had not do so on the days in question.

• With regard to the Registrant’s receipt of cash, AB stated that he was aware that she had done this. He stated that “my concern was not that she took a payment in cash from the patient, but that she had agreed to see the patient out of hours on Atherapy’s premises. It is my understanding that the patient had come via Atherapy and had then been subsequently offered a cheaper cash payment out of hours”.

13. The Panel was greatly assisted by the evidence of both witnesses. The Panel found both to be credible and honest and were seeking to help the Panel to the best of their respective abilities.

14. The HCPC has produced and relied upon a very extensive bundle of documents. This bundle included documents which had been produced in the course of the internal investigation by Atherapy and the material which has led to the present Allegation against the Registrant.

Summary of the evidence and other material placed before the Panel by the Registrant

15. The Registrant gave oral evidence and responded to questions. She began by confirming the accuracy of the contents of her written statement which she had submitted to the HCPC prior to the commencement of this hearing. In brief summary her evidence was as follows;

• She made the following admissions; that she had acted as is alleged in particulars 1a) and 1b); that she had acted as alleged in particulars 2a) to 2c) [inclusive] and that in respect of those particulars, [as they related to particular 1b)] her actions were dishonest; that in respect of particular 3 she had rearranged the appointments, but had not cancelled them; that in respect of particular 4 and in relation to rearranging appointments her conduct was both misleading and dishonest. She also acknowledged that the conduct that she had admitted amounted to misconduct.

• She described her experience and career as a physiotherapist both prior to and after her employment with Atherapy. She qualified in 2012. After leaving the employment of Atherapy in December 2018, she worked in London on a self-employed basis. In May 2020 she relocated to Dublin and since June 2020 she has been working at the Archview Physiotherapy clinic in Dublin. In response to questions the Registrant emphasised that in her present employment, she was well supported and that she had very good relations with the team with which she was working. She stressed that with the exception of the allegations that have given rise to this hearing, there have been no concerns about her conduct or clinical competence.

• With regard to the allegations in particulars 1a) and 1b) and 2a) to d) she gave the following explanation; 

Patient A requested two follow up appointments after I saw her on 24 October 2018 but later in the evening than her previous appointment. I told her that I did not work after 7pm/7:30pm on the dates she required but if she came out of hours or after I had finished work I would treat her for one hour and charge her £50 per session. I did so on the dates in Schedule 1 of the allegation. Patient A had told me that she would be unable to continue with her treatment if she paid the £90 rate that Atherapy charged.

I do understand that this was wrong of me because Patient A was a client of Atherapy’s and that I should not have charged the lower rate, taken cash payments from her, or treated her outside of my work at Atherapy. Having done so, I should have let Atherapy know immediately and passed the money on to Atherapy rather than keeping it for myself. This was an error of my judgement and I repaid the £100 to Atherapy through a deduction to my final salary. I am extremely remorseful and apologetic for my actions.

I have learnt from this experience and have never accepted cash payments from clients since, undertaken work with clients in my own time, or offered a lower rate to a client than the rate they would have to pay through the clinics where I am working

I accept the allegation.

• With regard to particular 3 she gave the following explanation:


Atherapy often removed admin slots I had put in my diary to complete my daily tasks and replaced them with new patients’ appointments without my consent. I sometimes rearranged patients in order to make my diary more efficient for the day and spread my caseload evenly over the week or the following week. I would only make these amendments to get some more admin time for myself to catch up on notes and reports, so I would not have to do them when I went home that evening.


I did mention the issue to a senior colleague of mine and I had a phone call with JW from the admin team at Atherapy expressing my concerns on this, but it was never addressed. I was intimidated by the senior management so never had the courage to tell them to stop taking out my admin slots or to ask for more admin time. In hindsight, I understand that this is what I should have done, as it was putting me under too much pressure and stress each day. On reflection I should have had more courage to make sure my concerns were met but I did not at the time.

As Atherapy did not have an occupational sick pay scheme, and only provided Statutory Sick Pay, the effect of taking sick leave of under four days was the loss of approximately £100 of pay for that day. This led myself and other physiotherapists to be scared of taking sick leave.
On 1 November 2018 I felt unwell and therefore sought to rearrange patients in my diary in the afternoon so I could go home. As I knew the effect this would have on my salary I did not notify Atherapy that I was unwell. I realise now that this was wrong and I should have informed the clinic of my sickness absence and followed company policy. This was the only occasion where I was unwell and did not inform the clinic.


I accept I should not have told patients I was working at a private hospital on occasions or that an appointment had been double booked where I tried to rearrange appointments. There were occasions when I changed bookings due to double bookings but I am not sure whether this applies to Patient O or P. I felt that providing such reasons sounded like a more professional reason for an appointment change rather than that I required more admin time in my diary or I felt unwell.


In general I only ever rearranged patient appointments if they were follow up patients (who I had already met) and agreed to a new appointment. However, I do recall that Patient Q was a new patient. She had been moved into my admin slot. If they did not agree, I would still always see them at the appointment times planned. I did not ever cancel any patient appointments.


Where patient slots were rearranged, these would be within a reasonable timeframe and no significant delay would have been caused to their treatment or impeded their rehabilitation. I have never had complaints from patients for any treatments I have given and believe I have a sound ability to practise both safely and effectively. I always kept a busy clinic at Atherapy, had great patient outcomes, maintained great retention of patients and built up an excellent rapport with them. I valued all my patients and would always do the best I could for them. I refer the Panel to sample reviews from the time I was at Atherapy.


I therefore accept that I rearranged appointments for the Patients in Schedule 2, but not that I cancelled their appointments.

• With regard to the allegation of misconduct and by inference the allegation that her fitness to practise is impaired the Registrant said as follows;

I accept that my actions constitute misconduct (allegation 5) and I am very sorry for this. This is something I have not and will not repeat in the future and understand it was poor judgement on my behalf.

I have learnt from the events at Atherapy and have used them as an opportunity to improve my decisions, learn from my mistakes and not make the same mistakes again. I am very sorry for how my behaviour reflects on me, the profession and the HCPC.

I felt stressed, frustrated and unsupported working for Atherapy. I understand that I should have made my concerns heard and when I told other members of the team at Atherapy my issues and had received no response or help I should have fought harder to ensure my concerns were addressed.

There has been no repetition of any of the poor judgements I made at Atherapy.

• In describing her present employment, the Registrant said as follows;

At Physio-On and Technique Physio I built great relationships with both my managers and the administration teams. I thoroughly enjoyed the roles and had a great support network. Testimonials from these employers can be seen.

When I started work at Archview Physiotherapy the team was very welcoming and approachable from day one. I work alongside four other physiotherapists, two massage therapists and a full time receptionist.

Working with a big team has proven to be very enjoyable and I am much happier in this environment. I have a great relationship with the team and my employer. 

I have an excellent patient caseload with numerous good reviews. I value the clinic I work in, my patients and my colleagues. I ensure each day that I carry out the best quality treatments for my patients and make sure that they hold a large amount of trust in me.
Since leaving Atherapy I have not repeated of any of the kind of behaviours or actions detailed in the allegations that the Panel is considering.

I have learnt from the mistakes I made and I believe my learning has made me a more confident and honest physiotherapist who will not make the kind of mistakes I made in 2018 again.

I became a physiotherapist to apply my knowledge and skills to improve quality of life. I love being a physiotherapist, am very passionate about the profession and am proud of what it represents.

16. The Registrant responded to questions as to why she acted as she did and about her understanding of the impact of her behaviour on the reputation of the profession and on her patients. The Registrant also explained why she would not act in a similar way in the future.

17. In addition to the oral and written evidence that the Registrant gave, she provided a number of documents; these included an extensive “reflection” and numerous testimonials from colleagues, former patients and managers in respect of the periods 2019 and 2021 and patient reviews in respect of the period 2017 and 2018 and 2020.

18. The Panel concluded that the evidence of the Registrant was truthful and that she was endeavouring to assist the Panel in her responses. The Panel did however feel that the Registrant had a somewhat immature attitude, was awkward in her presentation and had difficulty in articulating the extent of her insight into her misconduct. The Panel did however keep in mind the relative youth and limited experience of the Registrant and the fact that the present proceedings were likely to be an intimidating experience for her.

Submissions made as to the facts, misconduct and impairment

19. The Panel received detailed written submissions from both Mr Tarbert and from Mr Sykes. The Panel found both submissions to be of very great assistance. The submissions were in respect of the facts, misconduct and impairment.

20. In brief summary Mr Tarbert submitted;

• That on the evidence that it had received, the Panel was entitled to find all the particulars in the Allegation proved, including the allegations of dishonesty.

• That the conduct alleged in the particulars was sufficiently serious as to amount to misconduct.

• That by reason of the facts as set out in Allegation, the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

21. In brief summary Mr Sykes submitted as follows;

• That the Registrant had admitted particulars 1-4 of the Allegation save that she did not admit that she had cancelled the appointments. There is therefore no substantive dispute as to the facts.

• The Registrant has admitted that her actions amount to misconduct. Whilst this is a matter for the judgment of the Panel, there is no substantial dispute as to that allegation.

• That for the reasons set out in the written submission the Panel should find that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was not currently impaired. The risk of repetition was low, due to the insight shown by the Registrant, as manifest from her conduct after leaving the employment of Atherapy and the supportive nature of the testimonials that have been presented to the Panel. That having regard to the specific circumstances of the case, public confidence in the profession and its regulator would not be undermined if there were to be no finding of impairment. Accordingly, there was no current impairment with regard to either the personal or the public component.

22. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to facts, misconduct, and impairment.

23. The Panel was aware that on matters of fact the burden of proof rests on the HCPC and that the standard of proof is the civil one, namely on the balance of probabilities.

 

Decision on Facts

24. Having considered all the evidence that it has received and the submissions that it has heard, the Panel makes the following findings as to facts.

Particulars 1a) and 1b) inclusive

Both proved

25. The Panel concluded that both particulars were proved. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel had regard to the admissions made by the Registrant, which were consistent with and supported by her admissions to the disciplinary hearing in December 2018, with all the documentary evidence that the Panel has seen and with the oral evidence of CS and AB.

Particular 2 a) - 2d) inclusive

All proved

26. The Panel found all these 4 particulars proved. in coming to this conclusion, the Panel had regard to the specific admissions made by the Registrant and the evidence of CS and AB. The Panel concluded that the Registrant knew that her actions were dishonest. She kept the money knowing that she was not entitled to do so. She did not inform Atherapy that she had received the money and she did not transfer the money to Atherapy’s bank account. The Panel also concluded that the Registrant knew that the money was paid in respect of services that she had provided as part of her employment with Atherapy.

Particular 3

Proved

27. The Panel found this allegation proved in respect of the rearrangement of the appointments. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel had regard to the specific admissions made by the Registrant in her evidence to the Panel and in the Disciplinary hearing conducted in December 2018. The Panel accepted the evidence of CS and AB.  The Panel also had regard to the documentary evidence that it had been shown: in particular emails between the patients and the Registrant and the relevant diary entries. However, the Panel concluded that the allegation that the Registrant had “cancelled” appointments had not been proved.

Particular 4

Proved [in respect of rearranging appointments]

28. The Panel found this allegation proved. The Panel concluded from all the evidence, that the Registrant knew that the explanations that she had given to the patients for rearranging the appointments was misleading and dishonest. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel had regard to the specific admissions made by the Registrant in her evidence and at the disciplinary hearing in December 2018 and to the evidence of both CS and AB.

 

Decision on Grounds

29. The Panel next considered whether the matters found proved amount misconduct; if so, whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is thereby impaired. The Panel took into account the detailed submissions that it had received from Mr Tarbert and Mr Sykes and to the authorities that they had cited.

30. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Legal Assessor referred the Panel to relevant case law. The Panel is aware that any findings as to misconduct, and impairment are matters for the independent judgement of the Panel and that, in respect of both issues, there is no burden or standard of proof.

HCPC Standards of Practice

31. Having heard the submissions of Mr Tarbert the Panel found that the Registrant was in breach of the provisions set out in paragraphs:


HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (January 2016):

Standard 9 “Be honest and trustworthy” –

• Standard 9.1 - You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession


HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Physiotherapists (May 2013):

• 2.4 – recognise that relationships with service users should be based on mutual trust and respect, and be able to maintain high standards of care even in situations of personal incompatibility

• 9.1 – be able to work, where appropriate, in partnership with service users, other professionals, support staff and others

Misconduct

32. The Panel has concluded that the conduct of the Registrant amounts to Misconduct. The matters proved are a serious departure from the standard of conduct that is to be expected from a physiotherapist. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel kept in mind that the Registrant had abused the trust of Atherapy. She received and kept two cash payments to which she was not entitled. This was dishonest. Moreover, she had used the premises of Atherapy, to provide discounted services, for which she asked and received personal payments. In rearranging the appointments, she provided her patients with misleading and dishonest reasons. The effect of rearranging the appointments was to delay treatment which could have caused continuing pain and inconvenience to the patients concerned. It also caused potential loss of income for Atherapy and potential damage to the company’s reputation.

 

Decision on Impairment

33. Having determined that the Registrant’s conduct, as found proved, amounts to Misconduct, the Panel proceeded to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of that misconduct. The Panel is aware that what is to be assessed is the Registrant’s current fitness to practise. In considering this issue, the Panel considered and applied the principles stated by Mrs Justice Cox in the case of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v Nursing and Midwifery Council; Paula Grant [2011] EWHC 927 [Admin] together with those stated by Mr Justice Silber in the case of Cohen v General Medical Council [2008] EWHC 581 (Admin). The Panel also took into account the other authorities cited in the written submissions that it had received. In particular the Panel considered whether there was a risk that the Registrant would in the future act in a way similar to that found proved. The Panel also considered whether public confidence in the profession, in the HCPC as its regulator and the need to maintain proper standards of conduct, would be prejudiced if a finding of current impairment were not made.

34. The Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired by reason of the facts that have been found proved.

35. The Panel concluded that there was a low risk that the Registrant would in the future act in a manner similar to that which has been proved in this case. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel took into account the evidence of the Registrant, the testimonials that it had received and her conduct since December 2018. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had developed considerable insight into her conduct and that she was very unlikely to repeat it.  The risk of repetition was low. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was not impaired by reason of the “personal component”.

36. However, the Panel concluded that public confidence in the profession and in its regulator would be undermined if a finding of present impairment were not made. Moreover, the Panel concluded that the need to maintain proper standards within the profession required a finding of impairment. In coming to this conclusion that Panel had regard to the fact that the Registrant had acted dishonestly both in regard to her failure to account to Atherapy for the two cash payments that she had received and her dishonesty with regard to the rearrangement of her patient’s appointments. This happened on a number of occasions and may have caused inconvenience and continuing discomfort to the patients. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of the “public component”.  

37. In coming to its conclusion with regard to both misconduct and to current impairment, the Panel took into account that the Registrant is in breach of the Standards of Conduct and Proficiency identified above.


Decision on Sanction

38. Having concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel proceeded to consider what, if any Order, is appropriate and proportionate in order to address and sustain the public interest.

39. Both Counsel have provided written submissions for which the Panel is grateful. Both Counsel have made specific reference to the Sanction Policy published by the HCPC in March 2019 [the SP] and to its contents.

40. Mr Tarbert has set out the principles which the Panel should adopt and all the options which are available to it. However, Mr Tarbert, in accordance with the usual practice of the HCPC, does not make any particular recommendation, observing that the appropriate sanction is a matter for the Panel.

41. Mr Sykes also sets out the principles which the Panel should adopt and identifies the options that are available to it. Mr Sykes submits that if the Panel is minded to impose a restrictive sanction, it would be appropriate to impose a caution order “for a relatively short duration”.

42. The Panel has considered all the submissions and evidence that it has heard and read. It has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It has taken account of the SP. It has kept in mind that the purpose of a sanction is not to be punitive but, and where appropriate, to protect the public and to sustain the public interest.

43. The Panel took into account the principles of proportionality, balancing the interests of the Registrant with the public interest.

44. The Panel also took into account the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors.

45. As regards to the aggravating factors, the Panel noted the following:

• The incidents of dishonesty occurred over several months and included acts of financial dishonesty.

• The Registrant did not volunteer to repay the £100 that she received from Patient A. It was recovered by Atherapy by a deduction from the Registrant’s final salary, on leaving the employment of that company.

• Rearranging the appointments of the Registrant’s patients to a later date could have caused them inconvenience and continuing pain and discomfort.

46. As regards to the mitigating factors, the Panel noted the following:

• The Registrant was working in a stressful environment and the time allocated to her, for her administrative tasks was inadequate for the purpose.

• The Registrant has made early and full admissions of the allegations made against her.

• There have been no concerns about the Registrant’s conduct prior to the matters found proved at this hearing. Since December 2018 the Registrant has been working for over two years as a Physiotherapist, without any concerns about her conduct.

47. The Panel has concluded that to take no action would be wrong. Such an outcome would be inappropriate having regard to the facts of the case, which do involve dishonesty and possible prejudice to patients.  Such an outcome would not serve to maintain public confidence in the profession or in the HCPC, as its regulator.

48. The Panel has concluded that a Caution Order for a period of 12 months is the appropriate and sufficient Order for it to make. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel paid careful attention to the contents of the SP and in particular to paragraphs 101 and 102 of the SP. The Panel noted that the acts of dishonesty were limited in time and were relatively minor in character; that there was a very low risk of repetition and that the finding of impairment was made on the ‘public component” grounds only. The Panel has also noted that the Registrant has shown considerable insight. Moreover, through her conduct and the testimonials that she has produced, the Registrant has displayed a high degree of remediation. In the view of the Panel a period of 12 months is sufficient to mark the gravity of the matters found proved.

49. In coming to the conclusion that a Caution Order for 12 months was the appropriate Order for the Panel to make, the Panel did consider both a Conditions of Practice Order and a Suspension Order. Its conclusion in respect of a Conditions of Practice Order, was that having regard to the nature of the offences, appropriate and meaningful practice conditions could not be formulated. In regard to a Suspension Order, the Panel concluded that such an Order would be disproportionate, having regard to the facts of the case and the mitigating factors which it has identified.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Miss Edwina Lynn with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Edwina Lynn

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
23/02/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution