Mr Richard C Sutton

Profession: Chiropodist / podiatrist

Registration Number: CH10255

Hearing Type: Voluntary Removal Agreement

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 12/02/2021 End: 17:00 12/02/2021

Location: Hearing taking place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Chiropodist / Podiatrist with the Health and Care Professions Council and employed by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, you:


1.Did not complete any, or any adequate notes and/or appropriately store notes for
the attendance of:


a) Patient 1 on 16 June 2016;


b) Patient 2 on 10 March 2016 in that there is no record of what occurred during the appointment and/or the patient’s on-going care plan;


c) Patient 3 on 5 November 2016 and / or 11 February 2016;


d) Patient 4 on 27 September 2016 and / or 15 March 2017 and / or 18 April 2017 and /
or 30 May 2017 and / or 6 June 2017;


e) Patient 5 on 28 July 2016 and/or 22 September 2016;


f) Patient 6 on 10 December 2015;


g) Patient 7 on 5 May 2016 and/or 12 May 2016 and/or 9 June 2016 and/or 16 June;


h) Patient 8 on 16 November 2016 in that you did not complete and/or record the medical history and/or clinical assessment and/or care plan;


i) Patient 9 on 18 February 2016 in that you did complete and/or record the clinical assessment and/or the date/time of the appointment in the body of the clinical notes and/or the medical history and/or care plan;


j) Patient 10 on 8 July 2015 in that you did not record the date and/or time the primary assessment in the body of the clinical notes;


k) Patient 10 on 15 February 2016 in that you did not complete and/or record the clinical assessment and/or care plan and/or sign the clinical notes;


l) Patient 11 on 14 August 2015.


2. In relation to an entry in Patient 4’s records, did not:


a) complete the date;


b) complete the time of the session;


c) insert your signature; and/or


d) sign your mistakes.


3. In relation to Patient 11, emailed a synopsis to Colleague A approximately 20 minutes before her appointment with Patient A.


4. Recognised that an onward referral was required in relation to Patient 15 on 26 October 2016, but did promptly action it and or record such action;


5. Recognised that an onward referral was required in relation to Patient 16 on 17 February 2016 but did not promptly action it and/or record such action


6. Recognised that an onward referral was required in relation to Patient 17, on 21 September 2016, but did not promptly action it and/or record such action


7. Recognised that an onward referral was required in relation to Patient 18, on 20 July 2016, but did not promptly action it and/or record such action


8. Recognised that an onward referral was required in relation to Patient 19, on 2 November 2016, but did not promptly action it and/or record such action.


9. Removed over 200 clinical notes from your workplace without permission without permission.


10. The matters described at particulars 1 – 8 constitutes misconduct and / or lack of competence.


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

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Service

1. The Registrant did not attend the hearing and was not represented. The Panel first considered whether it ought to exercise its discretion to continue with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.

2. In making that determination the Panel first decided whether all reasonable efforts had been made to serve the notice of hearing on the Registrant as required by Rule 11 of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules (The rules). The Panel had regard to Rule 3 of the rules which set out that any communication may be sent by post to the Registrant’s address on the Register. Rule 6 requires that a notice of hearing shall be sent setting out the date, time and venue for the hearing. 

3. The Panel took into account that the current Covid19 pandemic has resulted in the HCPC being unable to send out notices by post. In this matter the Registrant was sent notice of the hearing on 3 December 2020 via his registered email address that he had previously provided to the HCPC. The Notice provided all of the relevant information and explained to the Registrant how he could participate.

4. The Registrant acknowledged receipt of the email and the attached notice on the 4 December 2020. On the 18 January 2021 the Registrant’s representative confirmed that the Registrant would not be attending the hearing.

5. In these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been given notice of the hearing and that all reasonable efforts had been taken to serve the notice of hearing on the Registrant in the current circumstances.

Proceeding in Absence

6. The HCPC applied to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. It was submitted that it was in the public interest to proceed and the Registrant could be considered to have voluntarily absented himself.

7. The Panel concluded it was in the public interest to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, having considered the HCPC Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Registrant’s Absence,” having taken the Legal Asessor’s advice, and considered the guidance in R v Jones [2003] 1 AC 1 HL and GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162, for the following reasons:

• The registrant has not sought an adjournment or expressed a desire to be present;
• The Panel considered it was unlikely that the registrant would attend any future hearing;
• The Panel determined that the Registrant had chosen not to attend the hearing and voluntarily waived his right to appear;
• There is a general public interest in the expeditious disposal of this matter;
• The Panel considered that given the nature of the HCPC’s application which was for the Panel to approve the voluntary removal of the Registrant there would be no significant disadvantage to the Registrant given his expressed intention to resolve matters in this way.

Background

8. The Registrant is a registered Podiatrist and at the time of the allegations he was employed by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (“the Health Board”) as a Band 7 Advanced Podiatry Practitioner.

9. On the 1 December 2017, the Registrant self-referred to the HCPC to advise that he had been dismissed from his employment because of his conduct.

10. On 4 January 2018, his employer made a fitness to practice referral and provided a formal investigation report accompanied by a copy of the disciplinary notes, e-mail correspondence and copies of service users’ medical records.

11. The concerns related to missing or incomplete patient notes. It was further discovered that, in addition to notes being missing or incomplete, the Registrant had also been keeping notes at home. During the investigating stage, the Registrant informed the HCPC that he was not currently practicing as a Podiatrist and had no desire to return to the profession as the pressure and workload were detrimental to his wellbeing.

12. On 2 August 2019 the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer against the Registrant. Following this decision, the Registrant’s representative proposed that the HCPC consider entering into a Voluntary Removal Arrangement with the Registrant.

13. The Registrant admitted the substance of the allegation and signed the Voluntary Removal Agreement on the 4 January 2021.

Submissions

14. The HCPC submitted that in all the circumstances the Panel should approve the Agreement on the basis that it provided adequate public protection as the Registrant was agreeing to remove himself from the Register on the same terms as if he had been struck off. The HCPC submitted that it was clear that the Registrant had no intention to practice as a Podiatrist in the future and he accepted that his fitness to practise was impaired. It was submitted that the Registrant has had the benefit of representation and the Panel could be satisfied that the Registrant had provided his informed consent to this Agreement. In the circumstances the alternative would be to list the matter for a hearing which would be time consuming, costly and likely to achieve a similar  outcome.

15. Although the Registrant was not present, his representative had confirmed in the email of 18 January 2021 that the Registrant had signed the Voluntary Removal agreement and no discourtesy was intended by his absence.

Decision

16. In making its decision, the Panel had regard to all of the documents and the submissions of the HCPC. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred it to the Practice Note (Disposal of Cases by Consent) and reminded the Panel of the HCPC’s overarching statutory objective to protect the public. The Panel has considered carefully whether the proposed agreement would afford the appropriate level of public protection and further whether approval of the agreement would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

17. The Panel was satisfied that the allegations had been thoroughly investigated by the HCPC. It was satisfied that the Registrant had been given an opportunity to consider fully the allegations.  He has accepted the substance of the allegations and that his fitness to practise is currently impaired.

18. The Panel considered that the Registrant was genuine in his desire not to return to practice and in that regard the Panel noted that the Registrant had secured alternative employment in a non-medical field. The Panel also noted the supportive reference from the Registrant’s new employer and it considered that the Registrant had made an informed decision to leave the practice of Podiatry.

19. The Panel carefully considered the terms of the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement. It noted that the Registrant was effectively leaving the Register on the same terms as if there had been an order for Strike-Off. The Panel considered that this was adequate to protect the public.

20. The Panel did not consider that there was a public interest in the matter proceeding to a full hearing given the removal of the Registrant. It considered that this would only serve to delay proceedings. It has taken into account that the Registrant has been the subject of these allegations for a considerable period of time. The Registrant self-referred, reflected on his shortcomings, admitted the allegations at a local level and to the HCPC investigation and has been firm in his desire to leave the Register.

21. The Panel considered it was both appropriate and proportionate to approve the Voluntary Removal which would provide the appropriate level of public protection and would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. 
 

Order

The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Richard C Sutton from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Richard C Sutton

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
12/02/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Voluntary Removal Agreement Voluntary Removal agreed