Ms Rachel Brameld

Profession: Operating department practitioner

Registration Number: ODP36579

Interim Order: Imposed on 29 Jan 2019

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 18/10/2021 End: 17:00 18/10/2021

Location: Virtually via videoconference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

As a registered Operating Department Practitioner (ODP36579) your fitness to
practice is impaired by reason of conviction. In that:

 1. On 28 July 2020 you were convicted at Sheffield Magistrates Court of:

  a) On 29 July 2018 and 03 August 2018 at Sheffield in the county of South Yorkshire, stole Tramadol, in the course of your employment, of a value unknown belonging to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Contrary to section
  1(1) and 7 of the Theft Act 1968.

  b) On 03 August 2018 at Sheffield in the county of South Yorkshire having
  had in your possession a quantity of Tramadol, a controlled drug of class C                                in contravention of section 5(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
  Contrary to section 5(2) and Schedule 4 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

 2. By reason of your conviction your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters:

Service
1. The papers in this case reveal the fact that the Notice of Hearing was emailed to the
Registrant’s email address on 20 September 2021 and that it was delivered. Additionally, the notice was posted by first class mail to the Registrant’s registered postal address on the 21 September 2021. The Panel found good service.

Proceeding in Absence

2. Ms Reid applied for this hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Good
service having been found, the Panel noted that the facts in this case go back to the
months of July and August 2018. There has already been one adjournment requested by the
Registrant on 24 May 2021 which was granted by that Final Hearing panel. The Panel also took into account that, as a conviction case, the underlying facts are indisputable. There has been no engagement by the Registrant since May 2021 and she has declined the invitation
to submit to the HCPC any documents on her own behalf. There has been no application
for these proceedings to be adjourned, and in all the circumstances, the Panel took the view
that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself. This is a serious case which needs to be
dealt with today and the Panel’s view is that the interests of the public demand that the
application be granted.

Application to Proceed in Private

3. Ms Reid made an unopposed application for any references to the health or the
family life of the Registrant to be held in private. The Panel found it appropriate to
grant this application, in accordance with the relevant rule.

Background:

4. The Registrant started employment with the Sheffield Children’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the Trust) on 07 September 2015.

5. At the material time, the Registrant was working as an Anaesthetic Practitioner at the hospital’s main site in the operating theatre.

6. On 03 August 2018, the Registrant was arrested on suspicion of having committed theft of
controlled drugs from the hospital. She was suspended from work on that date and the HCPC was informed of those facts.

7. On 19 November 2018, in a written statement to the HCPC, the Registrant accepted responsibility for removing a box of Tramadol from her workplace. She also mentioned personal issues in relation to the ill health of her mother and of herself.

8. It seems that the Registrant has been a subject of an Interim Suspension Order imposed by the HCPC since January 2019.

9. On 28 July 2020, the Registrant pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court to two separate offences. The first alleged that on 29 July 2018 and on 03 August 2018, she stole Tramadol during the course of her employment from Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The second alleged that on 03 August 2018, she was in possession of a quantity of Tramadol, a controlled drug of class C.

10. The Registrant was sentenced to a community order for a period of 18 months, which required her to participate in rehabilitation activities for a maximum period of 25 days. She was also ordered to pay costs and a surcharge to fund victim services.

Decision on Facts

11. The documents in this case include a memorandum of entry in the Register of Sheffield Magistrates’ Court that refers to the charges mentioned above, pleas of guilty to them entered by the Registrant and the sentence that was imposed. This is incontrovertible evidence of the facts stated therein and thus the Panel found particulars 1a and 1b proved.

Decision on Impairment

12. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and reminded itself of the contents of the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is impaired’. It recognised that the question of current impairment is a matter for its professional judgment. Ms Reid submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. There were no representations from the Registrant.

13. On any view, the crimes the Registrant committed have to be regarded as serious. They involved theft of controlled drugs from the workplace and, as such, amounted to a breach of her employer’s trust.

14. In determining the question of impairment, the Panel first considered the personal
component. In this context, there has been scant information from the Registrant, who
has not engaged with the HCPC in any form since May of this year. At the adjourned hearing on 24 May 2021, the Registrant was invited to submit to the HCPC a number of relevant documents, including a reflective piece and any evidence of recent training/courses. The
Registrant has submitted nothing. Therefore, there is no material to support a contention that the Registrant has shown any insight into her failings, nor is there anything to suggest that she has taken any steps to remediate them. There is also a risk of potential harm to service users.

15. In relation to the public component, the dishonest activities of the Registrant were
exacerbated by a clear breach of her employer’s trust – a fact which is relevant to consideration of the public interest.

16. On both these grounds, the Panel is persuaded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

 

Decision on Sanction

17. In coming to its own independent decision on sanction, the Panel has taken into account the contents of the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP). It has noted the advice of the Legal Assessor that it should apply the principle of proportionality in weighing the interests of the public against those of the Registrant. The public interest includes not only the protection
of service users, but also the maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

18. The Panel took into account the following aggravating and mitigating factors:

• In mitigation, it could be said that it was to the credit of the Registrant that she pleaded guilty at the Magistrates’ Court, although this is diluted to an extent by the fact that she was markedly less open when interviewed by the Trust.

• The significant aggravating facts include a lack of insight, a lack of remorse and no evidence of any steps having been taken by the Registrant to remediate her behaviour. As has been mentioned above, this is a case of an abuse of trust.

19. In the view of the Panel, there is a risk of repetition. This is not only because it seems
there were two instances of theft, but also because the aggravating factors mentioned above in paragraph 18 indicate to the Panel that the Registrant appears to have learnt no lessons from the crimes she committed in 2018. It is not to the Registrant’s credit that she has
refrained from making any meaningful contact with her regulatory body.

20. The Panel is of the view that it would not be sufficient to conclude this case by taking no
action or by referring it for mediation. Neither course would serve to protect service users
or maintain the standing of, or public confidence in, the profession or the regulator.

21. Equally, the Panel do not consider that the imposition of a Caution Order would
adequately reflect the seriousness of the case.

22. The Panel came to the same conclusion in relation to consideration of the imposition of a
Conditions of Practise Order. There is no information from the Registrant as to what she is doing at the moment and the circumstances are such that the Panel considers that no conditions can adequately address the situation.

23. In terms of a suspension order, the Panel did not feel confident that the Registrant was
unlikely to repeat her behaviour. She has shown no insight, there is no evidence of remediation and there has been very little contact with the HCPC. There has been a clear breach of Standard 9 of the HCPC’s Standard of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, which advocates the importance of honesty and trustworthiness.

24. Having given due attention to the HCPTS’ Practice Note on Conviction and Caution Allegations (dated 22 March 2017), the Panel noted that the Registrant has yet to complete the sentence of the community order imposed upon her on 28 July 2020.

25. The Panel reminded itself of those paragraphs of the ISP that deal with the circumstances of when a Striking Off Order is appropriate. It takes the view that the nature and gravity of the concerns in this case would be insufficient to protect the public, public confidence in the
profession, and public confidence in the regulatory process were a Striking Off Order not to be imposed. The Panel recognises the significant impact such a sanction has upon a Registrant but is nonetheless persuaded that, in all the circumstances, this is the only appropriate and
proportionate sanction to impose.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Rachel Brameld from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

Interim Order to cover Appeal Period

1. Ms Reid submitted that, consistent with the findings of the Panel in relation to the Final Hearing being heard in the absence of the Registrant, for the reasons outlined at the beginning of the hearing. Ms Reid submitted that in the Notice of Hearing the Registrant had been warned that this interim order application may be made. Ms Reid also submitted that it was in the interests of justice that an application for an interim order to cover the appeal period should also be heard in the absence of the Registrant. The Panel agreed.

2. Ms Reid submitted further that it would be appropriate for the Panel to impose an Interim
Suspension Order for a period of 18 months to cover the period open to the Registrant to
appeal the findings of the Final Hearing. The Panel accepted a contention that this was
necessary in order to protect the public and was also in the wider public interest and thus granted this application also.

Interim Order:

The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social
Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the
Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Rachel Brameld

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
18/10/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
24/05/2021 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned