Mrs Lorna Carr

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT43332

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 24/01/2022 End: 17:00 26/01/2022

Location: This hearing will take place virtually

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Adjourned

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Allegation

As a registered Occupational Therapist (OT43332) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct. In that:

1. Whilst signed off as unfit to work, and receiving sick pay from West Lothian Council, you provided misleading and/or dishonest information to West Lothian Council in that, you stated:

a) You were unable to go outdoors without polarised lenses;

b) You could only tolerate short periods of daylight;

c) You were rarely able to leave your home environment;

d) You were unable to drive.

2. Whilst employed by West Lothian Council and receiving sick pay, you worked for Sensory Sessions on the following dates:

a) Wednesday 6 September 2017;

b) Thursday 7 September 2017;

c) Monday 11 September 2017;

d) Monday 30 October 2017.

3. Your actions at paragraphs 1 and 2 were dishonest.

4. The matter’s described at paragraphs 1 to 3 above constitute misconduct.

5. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1.Notice of the hearing was served by email on the Registrant’s registered email address on 29 September 2021. The Panel, having heard and accepted independent legal advice, was satisfied that the Registrant had been given the required notice and that the email constituted good service of the notice of the hearing.

Proceeding in absence

2.On the morning of the hearing, the Panel received an on-table bundle entitled ‘A. Correspondence to the Registrant’.

3.The bundle contained correspondence and telephone memos which had been generated in the days preceding the hearing.

4.On 19 January 2022, the HCPC received an email from the Registrant’s solicitors which stated as follows:

‘We write to inform you that we are not in a position to represent Ms Carr as (sic) the upcoming hearing on Monday 24 January 2022 due to a lack of instruction and herefore (sic) must now intimate our withdrawal from acting.
We have spoken to Ms Carr this week and we understand she has a number of pressing family issues ongoing at present which is dominating her time and whilst she has not provided us with specific instructions to withdraw from proceedings herself and accept the original decision, we do understand that she is not intending to proceed representing herself.

We have copied Ms Carr and have directed her to respond with confirmation of her position as soon as possible.’

5.Upon receipt of this email, on the same date, the HCPC wrote to the Registrant in the following terms:
‘I write further to the below email from [the Registrant’s solicitors dated 19 January 2022]. Given the hearing is due to commence on Monday, I would be most grateful if you would confirm urgently:

1. Whether you intend to attend the hearing on Monday?
2. If you do not plan to attend the hearing on Monday, will you be seeking an adjournment of the hearing to allow you to attend at a future date?
3. If you do not plan to attend the hearing on Monday and do not intend to seek an adjournment, please advise if your position is that you accept the original Panel decision from the hearing that took place between 15 to 17 March 2021.’

6.No response having been received in answer to the email, the HCPC called the Registrant on two occasions on 20 January 2022 to a mobile number provided by her solicitors. There was no reply to either call.

7.On 21 January 2022, a further email was received from the Registrant’s solicitors as follows:

‘Ms Carr has informed us that she does not attend (sic) to proceed with this hearing on Monday.’

8.Mr Bridges referred the Panel to the correspondence and telephone memos as set out. He invited the Panel, especially in light of the solicitor’s email to the HCPC dated 21 January 2022, to proceed with the hearing in the Registrant’s absence.

9.The Panel heard and accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note, ‘Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant’. In the course of that advice, the Panel was referred to the cases of R v Jones [2002] UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

10.It seemed to the Panel, from the correspondence and telephone memos as set out in the on-table bundle, that at the very last minute, the Registrant’s Solicitors had been forced to withdraw from further representing the Registrant owing to a lack of instructions from her in relations to the proceedings. As a result, the Registrant was unrepresented. Efforts made by the HCPC by email and telephone to contact the Registrant had been unsuccessful. The Panel noted that the HCPC had received an email from the Registrant’s solicitors on 21 January 2022 to the effect that she would not be in attendance at the hearing. This email was received two days after the email from them dated 19 January 2022 in which the solicitors had indicated that they were no longer instructed on the Registrant’s behalf and had advised the HCPC to make contact with the Registrant directly.

11.To the mind of the Panel, the Registrant’s position, as presented in the correspondence and telephone memos which had been opened at the hearing, was far from clear. Following the email sent by her solicitors to the HCPC dated 19 January 2022, there had been no direct communication from the Registrant as to whether she intended to attend the hearing or be represented. There was also some suggestion, in the email dated 19 January 2022, that the Registrant was having issues regarding her family. These issues had not been spelt out nor was it clear whether these issues had any impact on the Registrant’s attendance at the hearing. Further, the email sent on 21 January 2022 from the solicitors to the HCPC was after a point when they suggested that they were no longer acting for her. As a result, the Panel considered that it would need to treat the content of the email with some caution.

12.When deciding whether or not to proceed in the Registrant’s absence, the Panel was mindful of the need to exercise its independent judgement and strike a careful balance between the public interest, fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the Registrant.

13.In considering the Registrant’s interests, the Panel was mindful that the right of a registrant to attend at a regulatory hearing was a prime consideration which ought to be weighed in the balance. After carefully considering these interests and the available documentary material, the Panel was not satisfied that there was a proper basis upon which to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance at the hearing was a deliberate and voluntary act on her part. In the particular circumstances of this case, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s interests outweighed the other interests and that it would not be fair and appropriate to proceed with the hearing at this time.

14.Accordingly, the Panel decided to adjourn the hearing to new dates to enable a hearing to proceed as soon as possible and, in the interim period, to allow the HCPC to engage with the Registrant to establish whether she wished to attend at the adjourned hearing or otherwise.

Order

The Panel decided to adjourn the hearing with no evidence being heard. 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Lorna Carr

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
14/03/2022 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
24/01/2022 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned