Miss Sutapa Halder

Profession: Speech and language therapist

Registration Number: SL28597

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 06/01/2021 End: 17:00 06/01/2021

Location: This hearing will take place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Speech and Language Therapist and employed with East London NHS Foundation Trust , you :

1. In relation to Child A, on dates between 23 October 2014 and 16 September 2016:

a. Did not carry out and/or record all required appointments in re lation to Child A;

b. Did not complete and/or record contemporaneous clinical progress notes;

c. Did not complete and/or record for Child A

  1. review reports;
  2. programmes reports;

2. In relation to Child B. on dates between 23 October 2014 and 16 September 2016 , you:

a. Did not carry out and/or record required appointments in relation to Child B;

b. Did not complete and/or record contemporaneous clinical progress notes for Child B;

c. Did not comp lete and/or record for Child B:

  1. review reports;
  2. programmes reports;

d. Did not upload the Speech and Language Therapy Targets report in a timely manner

3. In relation to Child C, on dates between 08 March 2016 and 16 September 2016, you: 

a. Did not carry out and/or record required appointments in relation to Child C;

b. Did not complete and/or record contemporaneous clinical progress notes for Child C;

c. Did not comp lete and/or record an initial assessment report for Child C;

d. Did not upload Child C's Preschool CELF report in a timely manner.

4. In relation to Child D, on dates between 23 October 2014 and 01 September 2016 you :

a. Did not carry out and/or record all required appointments in relation to Child D

b. Did not complete and/or record for Ch ild D the required number of annual review

5. In relation to Child E, on dates between 23 October 2014 and 01 September 2016 you:

a. Did not carry out and/or record all required appointments in relation to Child E;

b. Did not comp lete and/or record contemporaneous clinical progress notes for Child E;

c. Did not complete and/or record for Child E:

  1. review reports;
  2. programmes reports.

6. The matters described at paragraphs 1 - 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Background

1.The Registrant was employed as a Band 5 Speech and Language Therapist by the East London NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) from 1 October 2014 to 22 July 2016 when she resigned. She was responsible for providing speech and language therapy to children between the ages of 4 and 11 with speech, language, and communication needs.

2.During the Registrant’s employment, concerns were raised about her clinical documentation and record keeping. Her employer provided joint supervision arrangements and additional support and she was placed on a performance improvement plan. The problems, however, continued, so the Trust referred the case to the HCPC.

3.On the 8 November 2017 a panel of the Investigating Committee of the HCPC determined that the Registrant had a case to answer in relation to failures to:

•carry out and/or record appointments

•complete or record contemporaneous clinical progress notes,

•and/or failures to complete and/or record review reports and programmes reports in relation to three children (A, B and E) between October 2014 and September 2016. There were similar allegations in relation to two other children (C and D).

4.In a formal response to the Allegation dated 27 September 2017, the Registrant accepted that her fitness to practise was impaired and that she was not yet ready to return to practice. She requested voluntary removal from the register until she was well enough to return. The Registrant set out mitigating circumstances in relation to her health and personal life and identified support mechanisms and coping strategies that would enable her to return to the profession.

5.On the 04 February 2019 a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee disposed of this matter by Consent and imposed a 12-month suspension order, having determined that the fitness to practise of the Registrant was impaired on the grounds of misconduct and/or incompetence.

6.On the 07 January 2021 the Suspension Order was reviewed for the first time. The reviewing Panel extended the Suspension Order for a further period of 12 months and made recommendations that the Registrant should provide a series of documents that might assist any future reviewing Panel.

7.On the 24 December 2020 the Registrant had a lengthy telephone conversation with a representative of the HCPC in which advice was provided that she found very helpful. She said that she was focused on seeking to regain her registration but probably not yet as her progress had been hampered by the pandemic. She also provided information during this conversation that, since November 2020, she had been working in a school, albeit in a non-registered capacity. She added that, she had been acting as carer.

8.On the 4 January 2021 the Registrant submitted a number of documents, apparently in response to the suggestions of the first reviewing panel. Her statement, contained within this material, mentioned health issues she had been suffering from and her inability to book onto courses and online training. She described her role at the school in Islington as a Speech and Language teaching assistant. Unfortunately, the arrival of the pandemic had the effect of closing the school.

9.The Registrant submitted a letter from LW, a band 6 and 7 Speech and Language therapist, who confirmed her agreement to act as her mentor.

10.Additional information provided by the Registrant included;

•evidence of her placement with a primary school

•documents relating to her health

Decision     

11. The Panel heard the submission of Ms Sampson that the fitness to practise of the Registrant remained impaired and that the appropriate course for the Panel to adopt today would be to extend the current order of suspension for another 12 months. This, contended Ms Sampson, would enable the Registrant to prepare herself more fully for a return to her profession and to discharge her burden of showing that her fitness to practise will no longer be impaired. Ms Sampson accepted that the Registrant had provided some evidence of record keeping but that she had not yet properly addressed the original concerns that had been raised about her record keeping failures.

12. Ms Sampson also drew to the attention of the Panel the fact that the Registrant had not provided any references or testimonials for any paid or unpaid work, as recommended by the previous reviewing panel.

13. Ms Sampson acknowledged to the Panel that the Registrant had engaged in some self-study and research and had enrolled onto a learning course and, additionally, identified several courses that she would like to do in order to maintain and develop her professional knowledge. However, continued Ms Sampson, the efforts made in this regard by the Registrant were insufficient and she brought to the attention of the Panel the concession from the Registrant that she had not yet been able to “apply to any courses that may help [her] to meet this recommendation [of the last panel]”.

14. In relation to the recommendation that the Registrant should provide evidence in relation to the management of her health, some helpful information from the Registrant was given to this end, but she was unable to obtain a letter about her health from her GP.

15. Ms Sampson accepted that over the last 12 months the Registrant had made significant progress towards addressing the identified failures in her practice but that did not amount to her being able to discharge her persuasive burden that her fitness to practise was no longer impaired.

16. During the oral submissions made by the Registrant to the Panel today, she gave the Panel details of her current position as Language teaching assistant for a year 4 class but stressed that the future was unpredictable and that any timeframe was difficult to forecast.

17. The Registrant informed the Panel that the conversation on the phone that she had held on the 23 December was very helpful in enabling her to focus on the future in her attempt to make a plan. She accepted that she had been unable fully to address the recommendations of the previous panel in the provision of documents and information and that a further period of suspension would be an acceptable course. In brief, she recognised the importance of preparing herself over the next 12 months for an unconditional return to her practice as a Speech and Language Therapist.

18. The Panel took into account all of the material presented in this case and listened with care to the submissions advanced and accepted the advice provided by the legal assessor. It also paid due regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding Fitness to Practise impaired”.

19. The Panel was impressed by the obvious efforts now being made by the Registrant to address the problems that have been identified and was pleased that the Registrant is now engaging with her regulatory body, exemplified by her appearance today, albeit remotely, to help the Panel with its decision making.

20. In all the circumstances, the Panel has determined that the fitness to practise of the Registrant remains impaired on both the personal and public interest grounds.

21. On the topic of sanction, the Panel took the view that it was unable to devise any relevant conditions of practice and that the only appropriate and proportionate order now to impose is to extend the current order of suspension by a further 12 months. In making such an order, the Panel ardently hopes that the Registrant will meet with greater success over the coming months in order to persuade the next reviewing panel that she has progressed sufficiently for it to find that her fitness to practise will be no longer impaired.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Miss Sutapa Halder for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

This Order will be reviewed before its expiry.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Sutapa Halder

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
06/01/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
07/01/2020 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
04/02/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Consent Order Hearing Suspended