1. The Panel was satisfied that the email dated 24 March 2021 addressed to the Registrant at her registered email address informing her of the date, time and location of the remote hearing, constituted good service of notice of hearing.
2. Miss Reid applied to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She referred to the written submissions received from the Registrant where she states that she is content for the hearing to proceed in her absence. Whilst there may be some disadvantage to the Registrant by her non-attendance Ms Reid submitted that the Registrant has made extensive written submissions and there was no unfairness in proceeding in her absence today.
3. The Panel has decided that proper service has been made. It took the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred it to the HCPC Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence and to the case of GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162. It makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been taken to serve the Registrant with notice. Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied, the discretion whether to proceed must be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, with fairness to the Registrant being a prime consideration, but balanced with fairness to the regulator and the interests of the public.
4. The Panel considered matters and noted the terms of the email from the Registrant who has set out her position clearly. She states she does not wish to attend and gives reasons for that. She has provided written submissions. Adjournment would serve no purpose, and there is nothing to suggest that the Registrant would attend at a future date. In these circumstances, the Panel balanced fairness to the Registrant with the regulator and the public and the Panel concluded that in these circumstances that the Registrant has chosen to voluntarily absent herself and that it was fair and appropriate to proceed in her absence.
Application to Amend the Allegation
5. Miss Reid for the HCPC applied to amend the allegation. She explained that this was a dual grounds case based on both health and misconduct. However, the HCPC primarily proceeds on the basis that this is a health case and she advised that this was a Health Committee with power to decide on health only. She submitted that the HCPC seeks only to prove the health allegation. She submitted that the misconduct may assist in the overall assessment but that the HCPC did not propose to seek to prove the misconduct allegation and may in due course seek to discontinue. She submitted that the HCPC seeks only to prove the allegation, particulars 3 and 7 related to health.
6. Miss Reid submitted that the other proposed amendments sought to avoid duplication in the stem and to properly reflect the health condition in light of the evidence in the expert medical report.
7. Miss Reid explained that the Registrant had received notice of the proposed allegation, except the splitting of particular 6, on 11 September 2020. She submitted that the amendments were not prejudicial to the Registrant and were fair to her and to the HCPC.
8. Miss Reid submitted that dividing allegation 6 into two separate allegations did not change the substance of the case against the Registrant in any way, and served only to improve clarity and assist with case management in allowing the Panel to consider the primary health allegations separately from the secondary conduct allegations.
9. The panel took advice from the Legal Assessor who advised that the panel has discretion to allow amendments but must be mindful of the interests of justice and the need to ensure fairness to all parties. It should consider whether the changes proposed are significant and whether they alter the nature or gravity of the allegation. The panel should at all times be mindful of the public interest.
10. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and considered the proposed amendments. The amendments appropriately and fairly clarified the particulars of the allegation and the evidence, and do not give rise to prejudice or unfairness to the Registrant or to the HCPC, nor do they undermine the public interest. The Registrant has not objected and the splitting of the grounds does not prejudice her. The Panel was mindful that whilst it may not make a finding of impairment of fitness to practise on misconduct grounds, it has the power, with the overarching objectives of the HCPC in mind, at any point in this hearing to refer such concerns to a Conduct and Competence panel.
Hearing in Private Application
11. Miss Reid applied to conduct the hearing in private given the health issues that will arise and submitted that it was therefore appropriate to conduct this entire hearing in private.
12. The Panel having taken legal advice, decided it was entirely appropriate to conduct this entire hearing in private to protect the private life of the Registrant given that health issues are at the heart of the case.