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As a registered Psychologist (PYL05554) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence and/or a health condition in that:
1. During the course of your employment as a Consultant Psychologist at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, between April 2015 and 17 January 2018 you:
(a) Did not keep adequate records in that you did not complete approximately 36 initial assessment letters between July 2017 and December 2017
(b) Did not satisfactorily manage your job role in that you:
(i) Did not demonstrate an ability to make autonomous decisions; and/or
(ii) Did not demonstrate an ability to competently prioritise patient lists; and/or
(iii) Were unable to hold a satisfactory case load
(c) Did not appropriately manage clinical cases in that you:
(i) Did not read the case file before meeting with Service User 14; and/or
(ii) Did not adequately communicate with Service User 13's family between 25 June 2015 and 23 September 2015 in that you did not inform them that a treatment you recommended was not available; and/or
(iii) Did not provide appropriate handover in the case of Service User 13 in July 2015.
(d) Did not comply with data governance policies in that you:
(i) Did not ensure that the patient records of Service User 14 were kept in a safe and secure central point within your department
2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
3. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
Service of Notice
1.The notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant using her email address as it appeared on the register on 31 January 2022. The notice contained the date, time and modus of today’s hearing.
2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and is satisfied that notice of today’s hearing has been served in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules (the “Rules”).
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
3. The Panel then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules. In doing so, it considered the submissions of Mr Bridges on behalf of the HCPC.
4. Mr Bridges submitted that the HCPTS has taken all reasonable steps to serve the notice on the Registrant. He drew the Panel’s attention to an email from the Registrant sent on 28 January 2022 indicating that she would not be attending any hearing due to health reasons.
5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that, if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel had the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant and that “where there is good reason not to proceed, the case should be adjourned; where there is not, however, it is only right that it should proceed”.
6. It was clear, from the principles derived from case law, that the Panel was required to ensure that fairness and justice were maintained when deciding whether to proceed in a Registrant’s absence.
7. The Panel was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPTS to notify the Registrant of the hearing. It was also satisfied that the Registrant should be aware of the hearing.
8. In deciding whether to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into consideration the HCPTS practice note entitled ‘Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant’.
9. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was absent voluntarily. Taking into consideration the papers in the case, the correspondence from the Registrant and her reasons for not attending the hearing, the Panel decided that it was in the Public Interest and it was also in the Registrant’s interest to proceed in her absence.
10. The Registrant is a registered Practitioner Psychologist with the HCPC. A referral was made to the HCPC in 2019 about concerns with her practice. The concerns related to issues raised between 2015 and 2019 at her place of employment.
11. The Investigating Committee referred an Allegation to the Conduct and Competence Committee on 11 May 2021 and it speaks for itself.
12. The Registrant accepted that her practice fell below the acceptable standards expected of a registered Practitioner Psychologist and admits the above Allegation.
13. The Registrant applied for voluntary removal from the HCPC register on 25 June 2021, which was considered and then agreed in writing on 25 March 2022.
14. The Panel considered the submissions of Mr Bridges on behalf of the HCPC. He outlined the circumstances that led to the referral to the HCPC, and submitted that a Voluntary Removal Agreement was the appropriate method of finalising this case. The Registrant has fully admitted the factual particulars and that her fitness to practice is impaired. 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.
15. The Panel read the statement from the Registrant that accompanied her application for voluntary removal in which she admits the Allegation in full and states that she no longer wishes to practise as a Practitioner Psychologist due to health reasons. It is also clear from the statement that she has demonstrated deep insight into her failings and fully recognises the impact of those failings upon her clients.
16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
17. The Panel considered all the information and representations by Mr Bridges. The Panel has applied its own judgement to the application to withdraw the Allegation and to discontinue these proceedings. The Panel has also had regard to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on “Disposal of Cases by Consent” and has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
18. The Panel noted that the HCPC is satisfied that it would be meeting its statutory objective of protecting the public and the public interest, if the Registrant were permitted to be removed from the Register on similar terms to those which would apply if she were subject to a striking off order under article 29(5) of the Health Professions Order 2001. The Panel noted from the documents that the Investigating Committee had concluded that there was a case to answer. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has fully admitted the Allegation.
19. The Panel had before it a Voluntary Removal Agreement that had been agreed between the HCPC and the Registrant. It was signed and executed by both parties in terms whereby the Registrant admitted the Allegation, which had been made against her. She agreed that she will resign from the HCPC Register on the terms and conditions fully set out in that Agreement. The Registrant also signed a Declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other Allegation.
20. The Panel firstly 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 Voluntary Removal Agreement. It noted that the failings were serious, occurred over a protracted period of time and involved numerous patients. The Registrant has acknowledged her failings and has demonstrated insight into those failings. Furthermore, she recognises that her fitness to practise is impaired and has chosen to leave the profession. Taking the above into consideration, the Panel concluded that there are no overriding public interest factors that would require this matter to go to a full public hearing. In any case, due to matters that need not be mentioned in this decision, if this matter were to proceed to a full hearing, that hearing would most likely be held entirely in private.
21. 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.
22. In all the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that both the public and the public interest would be adequately protected by the terms of the agreement reached between the Registrant and the HCPC in as much as the Registrant will henceforth be prevented from practising as a Practitioner Psychologist and, should she wish to apply to return to the Register, she will be treated as though she had been struck off.
23. Furthermore, the Panel is satisfied that this method of finalising this case is appropriate and proportionate, and is jointly in the interest of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant. Accordingly, the Panel approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement and the withdrawal of the Allegation and discontinuance of those proceedings.
The Panel grants the application for voluntary removal and directs the Registrar to remove the name of Elizabeth Fitzpatrick from the Register.
No notes available
History of Hearings for Elizabeth Fitzpatrick
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|31/03/2022||Conduct and Competence Committee||Voluntary Removal Agreement||Voluntary Removal agreed|