Mr Jason Keers
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1. Between 1 October 2016 and 19 November 2016, stole approximately £160 from your employer.
1. In line with the Government’s recommendations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HCPC had made the decision to use email to serve its Notices of hearing where it has information about a registered email address. The Registrant was therefore sent a Notice of Hearing on 21 January 2021 by email to his registered email address.
2. The email dated 21 January 2021, informed the Registrant that this hearing would be “held remotely” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The email to the Registrant had been delivered and receipt of that email had been confirmed.
3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor on the issue of service and before making its decision referred to the unredacted copy of the Notice of hearing and information from the HCPC Register relating to the Registrant’s current registered postal and email addresses.
4. The Panel determined from the information before it that the Notice of hearing dated 21 January 2021, had contained all relevant details and had been delivered to the Registrant’s registered email address. The Panel therefore finds that there had been good service.
Proceeding in the Registrant’s absence
5. The HCPC applied to have this hearing proceed in the Registrant’s absence under Rule 11 of the Health Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Rules 2003.
6. Given the government recommendations on containing the current COVID-19 pandemic, all hearings are currently held remotely. The Registrant had therefore been given the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing through the medium of a virtual portal. The Panel had information that the Registrant had, in addition, been sent an electronic invitation to attend the virtual meeting but had not responded to this invitation.
7. The HCPC submitted that the Registrant, having received notice of these proceedings was aware of today’s hearing. The Registrant had not made an application to adjourn and had not provided any information as to why he was not in attendance today. It was the HCPC’s position that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself.
8. In support of this position the Presenting Officer informed the Panel that there had been a follow up email of the 8 February 2021, to which the Registrant had not responded, and that on the 19 February 2021, he had personally left a telephone message on the Registrant’s mobile phone having found that the landline registered against the Registrant’s registration details was dead.
9. The HCPC emphasised that this is a mandatory review of the current Order and there was therefore a need for the hearing to proceed as scheduled. In support the HCPC outlined the evidence which supported the view that the Registrant would not be more likely to attend a future hearing, should an adjournment be made today.
10. Further, any delay in hearing this matter to allow the Registrant a further opportunity to attend at a future date, would be difficult given the time restraints of arranging a further hearing in time to meet the deadline of 4 April 2021, when the current Order would lapse.
11. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor on the matters to consider when proceeding in a registrant’s absence.
12. The Panel, being aware that the Registrant had engaged with the HCPC process up to June 2019 was concerned that during the last twenty months he appeared, for unknown reasons, to have disengaged. The Panel, being aware that the outcome of this hearing may have a crucial impact on the Registrant’s professional future, took the unusual precautionary step of requiring the Hearings Officer to contact the Registrant’s mobile phone, so as to enable the Registrant to participate in some way, should he wish to do so and thereby update the Panel about his current circumstances.
13. The Hearings Officer was able to report to the Panel that he had successfully left a message on the Registrant’s mobile phone requesting that he contact him and that within the period of time allotted for the Registrant to call back had not done so.
14. The Panel has determined that the Registrant has had sufficient notice of the Panel’s ability to proceed today in his absence. The Panel noted that despite engaging in the HCPC process previously, the Registrant has not provided any reason for his non-attendance today. The Registrant has not applied for an adjournment, nor has he supplied any written submissions or indicated by way of letter, email, Microsoft Teams invitation or telephone a wish to attend this hearing. The Panel has therefore concluded that the Registrant has voluntarily waived his right to attend.
15. This is a mandatory review hearing, and if no review takes place the Suspension Order currently in place will lapse on 4 April 2021 without an assessment of the risk factors. The Panel finds therefore that it is in the interests of justice, and in the public interest, for the review to take place as scheduled, so that a proportionate decision can be made, as to whether a further order is necessary.
Application for private hearing
16. The HCPC applied pursuant to Rule 10 (1) (a) of the Health Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Rules 2003, for the entire hearing to be held in private. In support of this the presenting officer highlighted that whilst the decision of the final hearing panel related to an allegation of misappropriation of funds and dishonesty the underlying personal and health issues were factors influencing of the Registrant’s actions.
17. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Conducting Hearings in Private”.
18. The Panel agreed to grant the HCPC application to hold the hearing in private, as the factual background to events and the continuation of the Registrant’s lack of fitness to practise included detailed information relating to the Registrant’s private life including his health.
Order: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Jason Keers from the Register on the date this Order comes into effect
The Order imposed today will apply from 4 April 2021.