James P Howard

Profession: Occupational therapist

Registration Number: OT31232

Interim Order: Imposed on 29 Nov 2019

Hearing Type: Voluntary Removal Agreement

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 09/06/2023 End: 17:00 09/06/2023

Location: Virtually via videoconference

Panel: Health Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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As a registered Occupational Therapist (OT31232) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your health condition in that; 
1. You have a physical and/or mental health condition as set out in Schedule A. 
2. By reason of your health condition your fitness to practise is impaired. 
Schedule A



Preliminary Matters

Conduct of the Hearing in Private

1. As the application concerned matters that related entirely to the health of the Registrant, Ms Manning-Rees applied for the whole hearing to be conducted in private. Mr Short supported that application.

2. The Legal Assessor advised that in those circumstances and in view of the procedural rules (r. 10(1)(a)), HCPC (Health Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 as amended) and the Practice Note of the HCPTS entitled, Conducting Hearings in Private (March 2017), the entire hearing should be conducted in private to protect the Registrant’s private life.

3. The Panel accepted that advice, granted the application and directed that the entire hearing be held in private.


4. Ms Manning-Rees applied to amend the allegation in the form that appears on the second page of this decision. Mr Short did not oppose the application. The Panel received advice from the Legal Assessor, which it accepted.

5. The reason for the proposed amendment is to better reflect the evidence and to clarify the allegation. The amendment was minor, there was no prejudice to the Registrant in it being made and Mr Short did not oppose it. In the circumstances, the Panel allowed the amendment.



6. The Registrant practised as an Occupational Therapist who was employed by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust (‘the Trust’) from 1992 until his dismissal in March 2022. He was employed by the Trust as a Band 6 Care Co-Ordinator within the Reading Community Mental Health Team.

7. Concerns regarding the Registrant’s health were long-standing (from 2016, if not earlier) and known to the Trust. [Redacted].

8. As a result of these concerns, it appears that the Trust referred the Registrant to Occupational Health on a number of occasions in an attempt to support him [redacted], as well as providing him with flexible working hours and direct support from his managers. The Registrant’s health also affected his attendance and he was therefore subject to a performance management process.

9. [Redacted].

10. On 3 April 2018, the Trust referred the Registrant to the HCPC. Following his disclosure, the Registrant was provided with further support and review and was subject to a specific support plan [redacted].

11. However, further concerns were raised to the Trust once again following two incidents [redacted], on 9 August 2019 and on 31 October 2019. On both occasions the Registrant was sent home on the same day. Following these incidents, the Trust made further attempts to support the Registrant, by restricting his duties, increasing his one-to-one support supervision sessions and making a further referral to Occupational Health.

12. On 29 November 2019 a panel of the Investigating Committee (‘IC’) imposed an Interim Suspension Order on the Registrant’s registration for a period of 18 months.

13. At its meeting on 25 August 2020, the IC determined that there was a case to answer in relation to an allegation of impairment of the Registrant’s fitness to practise. The Panel confirmed the allegation set out above in its unamended form.

Application for Permission to Withdraw the Allegation and for Case Disposal by a Voluntary Removal Agreement

14. Following the decision of the IC, Kingsley Napley LLP was instructed by the HCPC to conduct an investigation in relation to the allegation. As part of this investigation, the following were obtained:

i. Expert Report of Dr Pardeep Grewal, Consultant Psychologist;

ii. Witness statements of JH, MG and RB.

15. Dr Grewal’s report dated 18 April 2021 recorded his medical examination of the Registrant and his consideration of the Registrant’s medical history and the concerns that had given rise to these fitness to practise proceedings. [Redacted].

16. On 12 December 2021, the Registrant’s representative contacted Kingsley Napley to advise that the Registrant wished to proceed with a Voluntary Removal Agreement in this case.

17. The HCPC reviewed the case and considered the circumstances suitable for disposal by way of Voluntary Removal Agreement as the Registrant was prepared to admit the substance of the allegation.

18. On 19 December 2022, the Registrant returned a completed Consensual Disposal Request Pro-Forma document. Within the pro-forma the Registrant admitted the facts of the allegation and that his fitness to practise was currently impaired by reason of his adverse health.

19. On 30 May 2023, Kingsley Napley LLP received the signed Voluntary Removal Agreement from the Registrant.

Documents, Submissions and Legal Advice

20. The HCPC placed a substantial bundle of documents before the Panel, which set out the history of the concerns and of this fitness to practise case. The documents included a copy of the Voluntary Removal Agreement bearing today’s date, signed by the Registrant and on behalf of the HCPC.

21. Ms Manning-Rees referred to the written Skeleton Argument provided on behalf of the HCPC, which sought permission from the Panel to withdraw the allegation and a direction for disposal of the case on the basis of the Voluntary Removal Agreement. Ms Manning-Rees supplemented the Skeleton Argument with oral submissions to the effect that this method of bringing the case to an end secured the necessary public protection and was not contrary to the wider public interest.

22. Mr Short supported the application and made brief submissions.

23. The Panel received advice from the Legal Assessor, which it has accepted.


24. The Practice Note of the HCPTS entitled Disposal of Cases by Consent, March 2018 states:

‘As the HCPC’s overarching statutory objective is the protection of the public, a Panel should not agree to a case being resolved by consent unless it is satisfied that:

• the appropriate level of public protection is being secured; and

• doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.’

25. As to the second of those bullet points, in Cohen v GMC [2018] EWHC 581 (Admin), Mr Justice Silber stated that there are ‘critically important public policy issues’ which must be taken into account by panels in fitness to practise proceedings. This ‘public’ component of impairment requires consideration of the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.

26. It is open to a panel to conclude the case on an expedited basis upon the terms of a Voluntary Removal Agreement or reject that proposal and set the case down for a final hearing.

27. The terms of a Voluntary Removal Agreement are to the effect that the HCPC agrees to seek withdrawal of the allegation, that the Registrant will be removed from the Register and undertakes to cease practising and not to seek restoration to the Register for a period of at least 5 years. The agreement stipulates that (among other things) should the Registrant seek restoration to the Register before 5 years have elapsed or at any time after that, any such application may be treated as one for restoration following a striking off order (which prevents restoration before a period of 5 years).

28. The Voluntary Removal Agreement signed in this case contains provisions to that effect.

29. As the conditions for a voluntary removal to take place are equivalent in effect to a striking-off order, the necessary public protection would be ensured by giving effect to the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

30. The Panel considers that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by way of voluntary removal. There is nothing before the Panel to indicate that patients were adversely affected by the Registrant’s conduct and generally there are no grounds to take the case to a final hearing. The case concerns the Registrant’s health and the circumstances of the concerns do not merit a final hearing of the case.

31. In this case, the wider public interest is sufficiently protected by the Registrant’s removal from the HCPC Register and ceasing to practise as an Occupational Therapist on the terms set out in the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

32. Therefore, the Panel has decided to grant the application, and gives permission to the HCPC to withdraw the allegation as amended at this hearing and for the case to be disposed of on the terms of the Voluntary Removal Agreement.


ORDER: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr James Howard from the Register with immediate effect.


No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for James P Howard

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
09/06/2023 Health Committee Voluntary Removal Agreement Voluntary Removal agreed
23/02/2023 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
23/11/2022 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
18/08/2022 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
29/03/2022 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
21/12/2021 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
24/09/2021 Health Committee Review Hearing Interim Suspension
23/08/2021 Investigating Committee Interim Order Review Adjourned
12/03/2021 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
14/12/2020 Health Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension