Miss Sutapa Halder

Profession: Speech and language therapist

Registration Number: SL28597

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 24/01/2022 End: 17:00 24/01/2022

Location: This hearing is being held remotely via video conference.

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
i. review reports;
ii. 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 complete and/or record for Child B:
i. review reports;
ii. 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 complete 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:
i. review reports;
ii. 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

Preliminary Matters


Application to proceed in private


1. Ms Welsh made an application for the hearing to be conducted in private to the extent that any reference would be made to the Registrant’s health. The Registrant supported that application. The Panel granted the application in accordance with Rule 10(1) of the Rules in order to protect the Registrant’s private life.


Background


2. 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.


3. 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 and so the Trust referred the case to the HCPC.


4. On 8 November 2017 a panel of the Investigating Committee 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
  • 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).

5. 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.

6. On 4 February 2019 a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee disposed of the matter by consent and imposed a 12-month suspension order, having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct or lack of competence.

7. On 7 January 2020 at the first substantive order review, the panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and extended the suspension order for a further period of 12 months. The panel also made recommendations that the Registrant should provide certain information and documents for the purpose of a future reviewing panel.

8. On 6 January 2021 at the second substantive order review, the Registrant provided the following:

  • a letter from a Band 6 and 7 Speech and Language Therapist who confirmed her agreement to act as the Registrant’s mentor;
  • evidence of her placement with the Robert Blaire Primary School;
  • extracts from her PIP application on behalf of her sister;
  • invoices from Asian Care in relation to homecare services provided to her sister.

9. Notwithstanding the above, the HCPC submitted that the Registrant‘s fitness to practise remained impaired and drew to the panel’s attention that the Registrant had not fully addressed the recommendations of the previous review panel; in particular:

  • she had not provided any references or testimonials in relation to any paid or unpaid work;
  • she had not yet applied for any courses that might help her address her deficiencies in practice, as recommended by the previous panel;
  • she had not yet properly addressed the original concerns about her failure to keep proper records;
  • she had been unable to obtain a letter from her GP about her health.

10. The Registrant herself acknowledged that she had been unable to fully comply with the recommendations of the previous review panel and did not oppose the imposition of a further 12-month period of suspension.

11. In light of the above, the panel at the second substantive order review determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and imposed a further suspension order for a period of 12 months. The panel advised the Registrant that the next reviewing panel might be assisted by the following:

  • references and testimonials relevant to her acknowledged impairment;
  • evidence that she understands and follows a record-keeping policy;
  • a CPD portfolio which meets all 5 of the HCPC’s standards;
  • completion of an accredited Speech and Language Therapy return to practice short course;
  • a personal action plan identifying objectives to be addressed and how to achieve them;
  • evidence in relation to the management of her health;
  • her attendance at the next review hearing.

 

Today’s hearing

12. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle of documents including the decision of the panel at the substantive hearing and the subsequent reviews. The Panel was also provided with some documents by the Registrant as to her work and personal circumstances since the last review hearing.
 
Submissions on behalf of the HCPC

13. Ms Welsh on behalf of the HCPC acknowledged that the Registrant had engaged with the HCPC since the last review hearing and had made some progress in seeking to address the deficiencies in her practice and the recommendations of the last review panel. However, she submitted that the Registrant had not yet completed the steps needed to remediate her practice and that currently her fitness to practise remains impaired in relation to both the personal component and the need to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession.

14. Ms Welsh further submitted that it would be appropriate and proportionate to impose a suspension order for a further period of 12 months, in order to give the Registrant a further opportunity to address the outstanding concerns.

Submissions on behalf of the Registrant

15. The Registrant reaffirmed her commitment to practising as a Speech and Language Therapist. She informed the Panel that she had been employed as a teaching assistant in a primary school and had placed herself under the mentorship of a Speech and Language Therapist from February 2021. She met with her mentor remotely for 4 one hour mentoring sessions between 22 February 2021 and 1 June 2021 but these sessions came to an end as a result of the mentor’s relocation in the autumn term 2021 and the Registrant’s own health problems from October 2021. The Registrant provided the Panel with a letter dated 9 January 2022 from her mentor, describing in detail the clinical work undertaken by the Registrant as well as the quality of the Registrant’s record keeping. The mentor also identified the outcomes that it had been agreed that the Registrant would work towards.

16. The Registrant also stated that she had undertaken a mixture of work-based learning and self-directed learning. However, as a result of financial problems arising from her ill health, she had been unable to afford a Return to Practice course.

17. The Registrant submitted a letter dated 4 January 2022 from her GP to the effect that there are no current concerns about her health.

18. The Registrant submitted that she had made good progress towards satisfying the recommendations of the previous review panel. However, she acknowledged that she had further work to do. In particular, she intended to resume regular sessions with her mentor, undertake CPD and enrol on a Return to Practice course. She told the Panel that she now felt fully motivated to address the outstanding issues relating to her practice and to implement the recommendations of the previous review panel.

Decision

19. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Welsh on behalf of the HCPC and the submissions of the Registrant, together with the documentation provided.

20. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Notes “Fitness to Practise Impairment” and “Review of Article 30 Sanction Orders” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

21. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The starting point for the Panel’s consideration was the finding of the panel at the substantive hearing on 4 February 2019 that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct and/or lack of competence.

22. The Panel wished to give credit to the Registrant for her recent engagement with the HCPC in these proceedings, her attendance at today’s review hearing and the efforts that she had made in continuing her professional development.

23. The Panel also noted the letter from her mentor dated 9 January 2022 which referred specifically to her record-keeping and clinical practise, alongside an email from an SLT who commended her work with a child with SLCN. In addition, the Panel noted the letter from her GP dated 4 January 2022 indicating that she has no reported health difficulties since 2017.

24. However, the Panel noted that, apart from providing the letter dated 9 January 2022 from her mentor and the letter dated 4 January 2022 from her GP, the Registrant had not yet taken practical steps to follow the recommendations of the previous review panel. In particular, the Panel noted that the Registrant had not addressed the specific deficiencies in her record keeping and clinical documentation identified at the substantive hearing. No doubt this was in part due to the Registrant’s personal problems. In the absence of evidence that she had fully gained insight into and addressed the deficiencies in her practice, the Panel was bound to conclude that her fitness to practise remains impaired in relation to the personal component and on public protection grounds.

25. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose at the expiry of the existing order, the Panel took into account the HCPC’s Sanctions Guidance and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

26. The Panel considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness and applied the principle of proportionality.

27. The Panel considered that it would not be appropriate to impose no order or a Caution Order because the public would not thereby be protected.

28. The Panel next considered whether to impose a Conditions of Practice Order but decided this would not be appropriate because conditions would have to be so restrictive as to be tantamount to suspension.

29. The Panel decided that in all the circumstances the appropriate and proportionate sanction was to impose a further Suspension Order for a period of 12 months. This would give the Registrant sufficient time to address the outstanding concerns.

30. The Panel considered whether to impose a Striking Off Order but decided that this would be disproportionate at the present time.

31. The next reviewing Panel is likely to be assisted by the following:

  • the Registrant’s attendance in person at the hearing;
  • references and testimonials relevant to showing how she has addressed her shortcomings outlined in the original allegations relating to record keeping and clinical documentation;
  • a reflective statement on her past shortcomings in record keeping, demonstrating that she understands the expectations of a Speech and Language Therapist in relation to record keeping as outlined in the HCPC’s policy and giving practical examples of meeting the required standards;
  • provide a CPD portfolio structured around competencies, cataloguing examples of how she meets each of the 5 HCPC standards;
  • evidence that she has satisfied the HCPC return to practice requirements (60 days of updating) for someone who has been out of practice for more than 5 years;
  • provide a SMART personal action plan setting out how she will achieve the objective of remedying her deficiencies in record keeping and completing clinical documentation.

Order

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

The Order imposed today will apply from 4 February 2022.
This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 4 February 2023.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Sutapa Halder

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/01/2022 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
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