Miss Natalie Lange
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As a registered Paramedic (PA42499) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of caution and/or a health condition. In that:
1. On 2 April 2020 you accepted an adult caution from the Kent Police for theft contrary to the Theft Act 1968, and/or
2. You have a physical and/or mental health condition as set out in Schedule A.
3. By reasons of your caution and/or health your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Registrant was served with a Notice of Hearing and evidence of this was shared. The Panel was accordingly satisfied that notice had been provided to the Registrant of the day, time and virtual nature of the hearing. The Panel was satisfied that email communication is an appropriate and necessary method of communication due to the current COVID-19 situation, and that the Notice of Hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered email address, which the Registrant herself has used to correspond with the HCPC in this matter.
2. For the above reasons, the Panel has determined that there is good service of the Notice of Hearing.
Proceeding in Absence
3. The HCPC applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, on the basis that this is in the interests of all parties and is in the interests of justice. It was submitted that no detriment would result to the Registrant who has made her position clear and is pursuing voluntary removal. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
4. Whilst the Panel is aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant is one to be taken with great care and caution, the Panel has decided to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant in accordance with Rule 11 of the Rules.
5. In reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to the following matters:
• Service of the appropriate notice of this hearing has been properly effected.
• The Registrant has not applied for an adjournment or sought to object to this hearing proceeding in her absence.
• In an email to the Council dated 12 March 2021 the Registrant’s mother made it clear that she is representing her daughter and that neither of them intended to be present virtually: “Neither Natalie or I will be attending.”
• There is evidence that the Registrant was fully aware of this hearing and had made an informed decision not to attend.
• The Registrant has engaged with the HCPC in relation to this matter and this is a hearing of the Registrant’s own application for Voluntary Removal from the Register and has signed the requisite form.
• The HCPC consents to the Registrant’s Voluntary Removal from the Register.
• There would be no prejudice or unfairness to the Registrant if the hearing proceeds today.
• There is a public interest with the matter proceeding expeditiously.
Hearing in Private
6. The Panel noted that this case references a health matter, and accordingly including the private life of the Registrant. The Panel, as invited to do so by Ms Sampson considered whether the hearing should be held in private. While the Panel considered that the personal details of the Registrant's health should be kept private, it has heard from Ms Sampson that the health and other matters can be distinguished from each other. In these circumstances, the Panel considers that the hearing should proceed in private in part only. The health of the Registrant will be considered in private but other matters will be heard in public. This is because the Panel considers that it important for the public to be aware of how the HCPC regulates professionals registered with it.
Voluntary Removal Agreement
7. This hearing involves the consideration of whether the Registrant should be removed from the Register on a voluntary basis, without the need for a full fitness to practise hearing; she has admitted the Allegation.
8. The Registrant is a registered Paramedic.
9. The Registrant was employed by South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (‘the Trust’ or ‘SECAMB’) as a Paramedic. The Registrant began working for the Trust in February of 2017.
10. On Wednesday 30 October 2019 the Registrant, in the course of their work as a Paramedic with the Trust, stole a sum of money from the wallet of a patient while attending a job at their house. The theft was captured on the patient’s CCTV.
11. On 05 November 2019 the Registrant was suspended from work at the Trust.
12. On 09 November 2019 the Registrant self-referred to the HCPC.
13. On 14 November 2019 the Trust referred the Registrant to the HCPC.
14. On 01 December 2019 the Registrant resigned their role at the Trust.
15. On 02 April 2020 the Registrant accepted a Caution from Kent Police relating to an offence of theft contrary to the Theft Act 1968.
16. On 16 November 2020 the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer against the Registrant, referring the matter to a Panel of the Health Committee.
17. The Registrant has been represented by their mother since September of 2020.
Disposal by consent
18. Following the Investigating Committee decision, the Registrant’s Representative proposed that the HCPC enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement with the Registrant.
19. Following this proposal, the Registrant provided documents admitting to the substance of the allegation and formally requesting voluntary removal from the Register. Reflective statements from the Registrant were provided to the HCPC. The Registrant indicates that she has chosen an alternative career and considers that it is in the interest of all that she does not practise as a Paramedic in the future.
20. The HCPC subsequently obtained internal approvals to dispose of the case by way of removal and sent the Registrant the Voluntary Removal Agreement for signing on 18 February 2021.
21. The Registrant returned, via email, the signed Agreement on 22nd March 2021.
22. The Agreement unambiguously acknowledges that the Allegation is admitted and requests:
“With effect from 17 May 2021 please remove my name from the HCPC Register.”
23. The HCPC has provided a written Skeleton Argument and submits that, in all the circumstances, voluntary removal from the Register would be an appropriate means of resolving the current matter.
24. Given voluntary removal is equivalent in effect to a Strike-Off Order, the HCPC submits that the necessary public protection would be ensured by this course of action.
25. The HCPC also submits that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by way of voluntary removal. The HCPC reiterates that the Registrant has admitted the substance of the allegations and that voluntary removal from the register will have the same effect as a strike-off. It is submitted that these factors are sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour.
26. It is therefore submitted that the Voluntary Removal Agreement is an appropriate and expeditious way of dealing with this matter and the HCPC respectfully invites the Panel to approve the proposed agreement.
27. The Panel considered all of the material before it including the main evidence bundle, the HCPC Skeleton Argument in support of the Voluntary Removal Agreement (“the VRA”), the email exchanges between the Registrant and the HCPC and the signed copy of the Agreement.
28. The Panel also had regard to the HCPC’s oral submission to the Panel today in which the content of the skeleton argument was adopted. There was confirmation that the HCPC was satisfied that the Registrant fully understood the effect of the Voluntary Removal Agreement and that granting the application would not compromise the protection of the public or have any detrimental effect on the wider public interest.
29. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had careful regard to the content of the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent. The Panel had particular regard to the following part of the Practice Note:
“In cases where the HCPC is satisfied that it would be adequately protecting the public if the Registrant was permitted to resign from the Register it may enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement allowing the registrant to do so, but on similar terms to those which would apply if the registrant had been struck off.”
30. The Panel considered the reasons provided by both the HCPC and the position of the Registrant to be sound. The Registrant has fully engaged with the HCPC, and recognised that her health condition and what has occurred makes it difficult for her to work as a Paramedic. She has entered into the VRA freely and signed to confirm her comprehension that, were she to apply for readmission to the HCPC Register in the future, the VRA would operate as if she had been struck off the Register as a result of the Allegation being found proved.
31. The Panel noted the content of the communications with the HCPC in which it is clear that the Registrant no longer wanted to practise as a Paramedic and wanted to be removed from the Register. The Panel was therefore satisfied that this was a considered and informed decision on the part of the Registrant.
32. The Panel noted from the documents that the Investigating Committee had concluded that there was a case to answer, and that the Registrant has admitted the Allegation as part of the VRA. The Registrant has also put her signature to a declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other allegation.
33. The Panel was mindful of its overarching objective of protection of the public and the public interest.
34. The Panel therefore considered whether there were any factors that would make it undesirable to allow the allegation to be concluded on the consensual basis set out in the VRA.
35. The Panel was satisfied that the public would be adequately protected if this Allegation were withdrawn and the Registrant permitted to have her name removed from the Register and leave the profession in accordance with the terms of the VRA. The VRA would mean that she could no longer wear the uniform of a paramedic or enter peoples homes in the position of such public trust.
36. However, the Panel carefully applied its mind to the wider public interest considerations. In this, it had particular regard to the circumstances of the theft. A particularly vulnerable Service User, who had both physical and mental frailties, had suffered a seriously grave offence in which money and goods was stolen from his home by a paramedic whom he should have been able to trust. The incident had implications for the Service User’s finances and had the potential at the time for far-reaching consequences for relationships of trust within his family. The Panel noted that, after the incident, the Service User was concerned that this matter should not be “swept under the carpet”, but be dealt with transparently. The Panel put the wider public interest concerns arising from the incident to Ms Sampson, particularly in relation to whether a VRA would satisfy the wider public interest.
37. Ms Sampson indicated that because the VRA operates akin to a Striking-Off Order, the public interest is met, because the Registrant will not be able to practise. She submitted that there would be financial benefits to this arrangement in saving the costs of a final hearing.
38. The Panel was mindful that both a medically qualified professional and psychologist had provided reports that placed the offending of the Registrant in context. That the Registrant’s health conditions are provided as a background for such offending has meant that it is the Health Committee that is considering this matter, rather than the Conduct and Competence Committee, which would have focused on the police caution in isolation. The Panel considered that the fact that this hearing is being held in public (other than in relation to health matters) makes clear that the severity of the offence is recognised publicly by the HCPC.
39. Given that the VRA will operate like a Striking-Off Order and will not allow the Registrant to practise, the Panel was of the view that on balance, that there are no overriding public interest factors that would require this matter to go to a full substantive hearing, particularly given that poor health has been recognised as a factor which led to this case. No more serious sanction than a Striking-Off Order is available in HCPC terms and this sanction would not be available at the conclusion of a fitness to practise hearing before a Health Committee in any event.
40. The Panel is aware that if the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time in the future, her application would be treated as if she had been struck off as a result of the Allegation.
41. Given all the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that this means of disposal of this case is appropriate and proportionate, and is jointly in the interests of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant.
42. Accordingly, the Panel approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement and the withdrawal of the allegation and the discontinuance of those proceedings.
Order: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Ms Natalie Lange from the Register with immediate effect
No notes available
History of Hearings for Miss Natalie Lange
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|17/05/2021||Health Committee||Voluntary Removal Agreement||Voluntary Removal agreed|