Ione Alexander-Somerville

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL01679

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 14/06/2024 End: 17:00 19/06/2024

Location: Virtually via videoconference

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Hearing has not yet been held

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Allegation

Allegation (as amended at the hearing)

As a registered Psychologist (PYL01679) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct, in that:

1. Between 2016 and 2020 you misrepresented yourself as a qualified clinician to deliver Couple Therapy for Depression when you were not qualified to do so.

2. Between 2016 and 2020 you did not communicate to colleagues and/or patients that you were not qualified in Couple Therapy for Depression.

3. Between 2016 and 2020 you did not maintain your knowledge and skills in that you did not gain competencies in Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

4. In respect of particular 1 you have worked beyond your scope of practice.

5. Your conduct in relation to particulars 1, 2 and/or 4 above was dishonest.

6. The particulars set out in allegations 1, 2, 3, 4 and/or 5 above constitute misconduct.

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

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters
Service

1. The Panel was satisfied on the papers in the service bundle that the Registrant had been properly served with notice of this hearing by email dated 11 March 2024 in accordance with rules 3 and 6 of the Health and Care Professions (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003, as amended (“the Rules”). Delivery of that notice was confirmed by email of the same date.

Proceeding in absence

2. Ms Mosley made an application for the Panel to exercise its discretion under rule 11 of the Rules to determine that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She informed the Panel that the Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC in these proceedings since 2022. Ms Mosley asked the Panel to infer that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself from the hearing and waived her right to attend.

3. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel noted the fact that the Registrant had not engaged in these proceedings and inferred that she had voluntarily absented herself from the hearing and waived her right to attend. The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment or provided any information or reasons why the hearing should be adjourned. The Panel noted that the HCPC had made arrangements for four professional witnesses to attend this hearing. Their willingness to attend the hearing, and the quality of their evidence, might be undermined should there be an adjournment. The Panel was aware that the allegations related to a period between 2016 and 2020 and considered that it was undesirable that there should be any further delay in concluding the proceedings. The Panel determined that it was in the public interest, and not unfair to the Registrant, to proceed with the hearing in her absence.

Application to amend the Allegation

4. Ms Mosley made an application to amend the Allegation. The heading to the Allegation unamended states “As a registered Psychologist (PYL01679) your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct and/or health” and particular 7 states “By reason of your misconduct and/or health condition your fitness to practise is impaired”. Ms Mosley informed that the Panel that, at a Preliminary Hearing held on 29 November 2023, a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee had granted an application by the HCPC to delete the reference to the Registrant’s health from the Allegation. In error, however, the reference to the Registrant’s health had not subsequently been deleted from these particulars of the Allegation.

5. The Panel accepted Ms Mosley’s submission that the reference in the Allegation to the Registrant’s health was inconsistent with, and contrary to, the decision of the panel at the Preliminary Hearing. The Panel had regard to the advice of the Legal Assessor that it had a discretion to amend the Allegation at any time before making findings of fact, provided that such amendment was not outweighed by any unfairness to the Registrant. The Panel decided that no unfairness was caused to the Registrant by giving effect to the decision made at the Preliminary Hearing of which she had been informed and at which she had been entitled to attend. The Panel therefore allowed the amendments to delete any reference in the Allegation to her health.

6. Ms Mosley made a further application to extend the dates specified in particular 3 from “Between 2016 and 2020” to “Between 2016 and 2022”. Ms Mosley acknowledged that the Registrant had not received any advance notice of this proposed amendment. She submitted, however, that (1) the Registrant was not materially prejudiced by the proposed amendment because she had received the hearing bundle, which contained all the material which supported the proposed enlargement of the dates (2) it was in the public interest that the Panel should be able to determine the full extent of the Registrant’s failures of practice and (3) given the Registrant’s failure to engage in the proceedings she could have no reasonable objection to the proposed amendment.

7. The Panel took account of Ms Mosley’s submissions but decided, on balance, that the potential unfairness to the Registrant of extending, without any prior notice, the time period of the Allegation, in such a significant manner, outweighed the arguments in favour of allowing the amendment. The application was therefore refused.

8. Ms Mosley was offered the opportunity to apply to adjourn the hearing in order to give notice to the Registrant of the proposed amendment but declined to do so.

Hearing in private

9. Ms Mosley made an application for any reference to the Registrant’s health to be heard in private.

10. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Conducting Hearings in Private” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel granted the application in the interests of protecting the Registrant’s private life.

Background

11. The Registrant is registered with the HCPC as a Practitioner Psychologist. At the relevant time she was working as a Band 7 Counsellor at the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”).

12. A referral dated 20 August 2021 was made to the HCPC concerning the Registrant by SP, Counselling Lead at the Trust. The referral alleged that the Registrant had misrepresented her qualifications whilst delivering counselling sessions to couples between 2016 and 2020 in that she had failed to notify colleagues and patients that she was not qualified in the particular modality in which she was practising, namely Couples Therapy for Depression (“CTfD”). Whilst the Registrant had attended a training component in 2016, she had not subsequently undergone and completed clinical casework and supervision of her cases, which was a necessary component of the qualification. It is therefore alleged that the Registrant was working beyond the scope of her practice.

13. It is further alleged that during the same period the Registrant did not maintain her knowledge and skills in that she did not acquire competencies in Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Evidence

14. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a hearing bundle which contained the witness statements of the following witnesses together with the documents which they exhibited:
• SP, the Counselling Lead for the Community Living Well Service (“the Service”) within the Trust. SP was the Registrant’s line manager between April 2021 and February 2022, when she resigned from the Trust;
• BW, the Deputy Clinical Lead for the IAPT Service at the Trust. He was the Registrant’s line manager between March 2020 and April 2021;
• LWS, Clinical Operational Lead and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Trust from January 2018;
• RL, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Training Consultant at the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families.

Decision on facts

15. The Panel was mindful that the burden of proof was on the HCPC and that the civil standard of proof applied, so the particulars of the Allegation must be proved on the balance of probabilities.
Particular 1 - Proved
Between 2016 and 2020 you misrepresented yourself as a qualified clinician to deliver Couple Therapy for Depression when you were not qualified to do so.

16. SP gave evidence about the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service (“IAPT”) which aims to increase access to psychological therapies for all. As part of the IAPT service model counsellors were required to hold a core qualification and encouraged to qualify in an additional IAPT modality. From March 2020 onwards, this became a mandatory requirement. Couples Therapy for Depression Training (“CTfD”) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (“IPT”) are such additional qualifications.

17. He stated that Trust records evidenced that in March 2016 the Registrant commenced the CTfD course. The course consisted of two components; a taught component and a supervision component. The Registrant completed the 5 day taught component. However, the Registrant did not complete the supervision component as she ceased contact with her supervisor and did not submit case recordings. Therefore, the Registrant did not obtain the CTfD qualification between 2016 and the time she left the Trust in 2022.

18. Despite the fact that the Registrant had not obtained the CTfD qualification, the Trust records exhibited by SP showed she had during the period from 2016 to 2020 presented herself to both colleagues and patients as a CTfD qualified clinician.

19. SP referred to the “Community Living Well Service Handbook”, which is a reference document for members of staff. The handbook describes the main functions of the service. Next to the heading “Couples Therapy for Depression” the handbook listed Colleague B and the Registrant. SP stated that this was an example of the Registrant misrepresenting herself to colleagues as a qualified clinician to deliver CTfD. As the Registrant had not completed CTfD training, she was not qualified to carry out this work and should not have been associated with it in the handbook. Whilst he was unsure who had originally prepared the handbook, all staff had access to it and the Registrant could and should have corrected this.

20. SP gave the Panel a further example of the Registrant misrepresenting her qualifications to colleagues on the Trust’s IAPTUS Database. He explained that the database was the service’s online system for storing patient notes. Each member of staff had a profile on the database, which they could update at any time. The Registrant’s profile recorded that she was a practitioner working under the curriculum of CTfD and Behavioural Couple Therapy for Depression (“BCT”), when this was not correct as she did not have qualifications in either of these modalities. SP stated that individual practitioners have personal responsibility for making colleagues aware of their qualifications or lack thereof, and the Registrant had not done this.

21. SP referred the Panel to an email from the Registrant to Colleague B offering to undertake CTfD work, which implied that she held the relevant qualification. Within that email the Registrant did not inform Colleague B that she was not qualified to undertake CTfD work.

22. SP highlighted the Trust’s CTfD Protocol. Under the heading “CTfD” the staff members listed as carrying out that work was BW, Colleague B, the Registrant and a trainee. The trainee was listed as being in training. In SP’s view, the fact that the trainee was said to be in training indicated that staff were clearly aware that a specific qualification was required to undertake CTfD work. The Registrant knew that she did not hold this qualification, and she should have amended this entry in the Protocol to communicate to colleagues what her qualifications were.

23. SP told the Panel that the Registrant had corresponded directly with patients about their CTfD sessions. In his view, this misrepresented to patients that she was qualified to deliver this therapy. By corresponding with patients about this therapy she implied that she held the necessary qualification to undertake their sessions. He stated that the Registrant was clearly misrepresenting herself as a qualified CTfD clinician to patients.

24. SP told the Panel that the Registrant had corresponded with healthcare professionals in respect of patients undergoing CTfD sessions. In his view, this misrepresented to healthcare professionals that she was qualified to deliver this therapy. By corresponding in this way about this therapy she implied that she held the necessary qualification to undertake these sessions. He stated that the Registrant was clearly misrepresenting herself as a qualified CTfD clinician to patients.

25. The Panel heard evidence from BW, who had joined the Trust in 2019. He stated that on joining the Trust, it had been his understanding that the Registrant was qualified to deliver CTfD. This belief was confirmed when he took over her line management in March 2020 and viewed the Registrant’s appraisal record from June 2019. The record documented that the Registrant and Colleague C, Deputy Clinical Lead and the Registrant’s previous line manager, had discussed the Registrant’s CTfD work. At no time did the Registrant inform Colleague C she did not have the relevant qualification to be delivering CTfD.

26. BW confirmed that he was provided with as part of his induction, and had relied upon the “Community Living Well Service Handbook” as indicating that the Registrant was qualified to deliver CTfD therapy. He said that the handbook is regularly sent out to the teams within the Trust for ongoing updates and feedback and that practitioners have individual responsibility for ensuring that the information contained about them within the handbook is accurate.

27. BW pointed out that the Registrant discussed her CTfD work in appraisals. These were an opportunity for her to be open with her line manager about her qualifications and competency, however at no time did she inform her line manager that she did not hold the CTfD qualification.

28. BW stated that on 18 May 2020 the Registrant had sent an email to him and Colleague B requesting to discuss the remote CTfD appointment protocol. In his view, this demonstrated that the Registrant was misrepresenting herself as a qualified CTfD clinician, as, were she not so qualified, she should not have been involved in producing the protocol or in any CTfD work. He described it as a “nonsense” to be involved in the creation of protocols around a modality in which she had no qualification.

29. BW gave evidence that in around 2020 he had been approached to provide supervisory training for CTfD practitioners. He recalled a conversation with Colleague B and the Registrant about establishing a CTfD supervision group. At no time did the Registrant advise him that she did not hold the relevant qualification to be part of that supervision group. Given the inferences made by the Registrant and her involvement in CTfD work, he said he took it on trust that she was fully qualified. He stated that it was obvious to him that if a clinician did not hold the relevant qualification they should not be involved in that work.

30. In June 2020, upon leaving the Trust, Colleague B, CTfD Clinical Co-ordinator, reported to BW her concerns that the Registrant was providing CTfD without the relevant qualification. BW contacted the organisers of the CTfD course on 21 July 2020. They confirmed that, as the Registrant had not submitted clinical recordings to her supervisor, she had not completed the CTfD training or obtained this qualification.

31. BW decided to conduct an audit of staff qualifications. He emailed all staff to request their training status and date of qualification. The Registrant was the only staff member unable to document her additional IAPT qualification.

32. Following a further request on 13 August 2020 for the Registrant to provide evidence of her qualifications, the Registrant asked to discuss the matter with BW. When they discussed the matter over the telephone, the Registrant admitted that she had not completed the training and was not qualified. She attempted to justify her expertise in CTfD by saying that she had 30 years’ worth of qualifications.

33. On the basis of all the above evidence, the Panel was satisfied that during the period 2016 to 2020 the Registrant knowingly represented herself to colleagues and patients as being qualified to deliver Couple Therapy for Depression, when she was not so qualified. This constituted a misrepresentation and Particular 1 is therefore proved.
Particular 2 - Proved
Between 2016 and 2020 you did not communicate to colleagues and/or
patients that you were not qualified in Couple Therapy for Depression.

34. The Panel was satisfied on the evidence of SP and BW referred to above that the between 2016 and 2020 the Registrant did not communicate to colleagues that she was not qualified in CTfD.

35. With regard to patients, the Panel was provided by SP with summaries of patients’ notes relating to the period 2016 to 2020. The Panel was satisfied on the basis of these notes that the Registrant provided CTfD to couples during this period. Having completed the taught component of the qualification in 2016 but not the supervised component, the Registrant could and should have described herself as being “in training” until mid-2017 but did not do so. Having failed to complete the supervised component by mid-2017, the Registrant could no longer have described herself as being in training and should not have been delivering CTfD in any capacity.

36. The Panel was satisfied on the evidence of the patient notes that that the Registrant did not communicate to patients that she was not qualified in CTfD but continued to provide such therapy to couples regardless.

37. Accordingly Particular 2 is proved.

Particular 3 – Not Proved
Between 2016 and 2020 you did not maintain your knowledge and skill in that you did not gain competencies in Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

38. SP and BW gave evidence that it was not until March 2020 that it became mandatory to gain additional IAPT competencies in specific modalities. Prior to that date the obtaining of these competencies was best practice. There was no evidence that between 2016 and March 2020 the Registrant did not maintain her knowledge and skills as a Practitioner Psychologist. Following the introduction in March 2020 of mandatory additional competencies, the Registrant was given a further opportunity to gain a CTfD or IPT competency. She then undertook the taught component of the IPT competency and had a further 12 months to complete the supervised component. In light of this evidence, the Panel was not satisfied that Particular 3 was well founded. Accordingly, the Panel found Particular 3 not proved.

Particular 4 – Proved
In respect of Particular 1 you have worked beyond your scope of practice

39. In relation to Particular 1, the Panel found that the Registrant was not qualified to deliver CTfD. There is abundant evidence from the patient notes that during the period between 2016 and 2020 the Registrant delivered CTfD to a number of couples. It follows that, in so doing, she was working beyond the scope of her practice. Accordingly, Particular 4 is proved.

Particular 5 – Proved
Your conduct in relation to particulars 1, 2 and/or 4 above was dishonest

40. The Panel applied the test of dishonesty derived from Ivy v. Genting Casinos [2017] UKSC 67, which required the Panel first to determine the Registrant’s knowledge or belief as to the facts and then to decide whether her conduct was dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.

41. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant well knew that she was not qualified to deliver CTfD between 2016 and 2020 but did so regardless and, in so doing, she knowingly misled colleagues and patients. When this was investigated by BW in or about May 2020, she initially sought to pretend that she had obtained the qualification and only confessed to the fact that she had not done so in a telephone conversation with him in August 2020. The Panel found that the Registrant’s conduct in relation to Particulars 1, 2 and 4 was plainly dishonest. Particular 5 is therefore proved.

Decision on Statutory Ground
Misconduct

42. The Panel went on to consider whether the facts found proved in Particulars 1, 2, 4 and/or 5 amounted to misconduct as alleged in Particular 6.

43. The Panel was mindful that this is a matter for the Panel’s professional judgment, there being no standard or burden of proof.

44. The Panel had regard to the written submissions of Ms Mosley on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

45. The Panel noted the definition of misconduct in Roylance v General Medical Council (no 2) [2001] 1 AC 311 as:
“a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances. The standard of propriety may often be found by reference to the rules and standards ordinarily required to be followed by a medical practitioner in the particular circumstances”.

46. It is clear from case law that misconduct must be serious. Misconduct can be of two principal kinds:
(a) misconduct in the exercise of professional practice which is so serious that it can be properly described as misconduct going to fitness to practice;

(b) conduct of a morally culpable or otherwise disgraceful kind which may occur outside the course of professional practice but which brings disgrace upon the practitioner

47. The Panel found the Registrant to have been in breach of the following standards of the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics:
Standard 1.4: You must make sure that you have consent from service users or other appropriate authority before you provide care, treatment or other services
• Standard 3.1: You must keep within your scope of practice by only practising in the areas you have appropriate knowledge, skills and experience for
• Standard 3.2: You must refer a service user to another practitioner if the care, treatment or other services they need are beyond your scope of practice
• Standard 9.1: You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust and confidence in you and your profession
• Standard 9.2: You must be honest about your experience, qualifications and skills

48. In the Panel’s judgment, Particulars 1, 2, 4 and 5 constituted misconduct, both individually and collectively.

49. SP, BW and LWS all stated that it was extremely important that practitioners made patients aware of their qualifications at the outset of their treatment. If a clinician was in training, patients should have been informed of this so that they could provide informed consent to receiving treatment from a trainee. The Registrant should have been describing herself as a trainee until summer 2017, whilst she was undergoing CTfD training. However, when her supervision window ended after this time, she should not have been conducting CTfD work at all and should have ceased seeing CTfD patients. If there were any issues with the Registrant being unable to complete the supervision part of the course within the relevant time, she should have raised this with her line manager.

50. LWS told the panel that if a patient attends a practitioner who holds themselves out as providing a particular type of therapy, the patient would expect the practitioner to hold a qualification in that type of therapy, and to have completed the relevant training. SP and BW both told the Panel that the team’s expectation was that staff would be open and honest with patients about their qualifications and training status.

51. LWS stated that treating patients without the relevant qualification to do so meant that there was a potential for harm to be caused if the treatment the Registrant provided was not up to the standard required. She told the Panel that misrepresenting qualifications to patients had the potential to undermine the reputation of the Trust and the profession.

52. Likewise, BW told the Panel that patient trust is key. He said that the notion of not being transparent to patients about qualifications destroys trust professionally and amongst service users. He told the Panel that it was unheard of, in his experience, that clinicians would take that approach and he found it disheartening to be involved with a clinician who had misrepresented themselves in this way.

53. The Panel accepted the evidence of these witnesses. In the Panel’s judgment, Particulars 1, 2, 4 and 5 constituted serious misconduct, which put at risk the welfare of patients and caused potential damage to the reputation of the Trust and the profession.

Decision on Impairment

54. The Panel carefully considered the written submissions by Ms Mosley on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel received no information or submissions from the Registrant.
55. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Fitness to Practise Impairment” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

56. In determining whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel took into account both the “personal” and “public” components of impairment of fitness to practise. The “personal” component relates to the Registrant’s own practice as a Practitioner Psychologist, including any evidence of insight and remorse and efforts towards remediation. The “public” component includes the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator.

57. The Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was and remains impaired having regard to the “personal” component. The particulars of the Allegation, which the Panel found proved, cover a period of approximately five years between 2016 and 2020, when the Registrant was delivering CTfD to couples without having obtained the necessary qualification to do so.

58. When her behaviour was discovered, the Registrant expressed no remorse or apology for what she had done and sought to justify herself by referring to her thirty years’ experience. She appeared to lack insight as to the negative consequences for vulnerable patients, to whom she purported to provide therapy without having the necessary qualification. This was an abuse of her privileged position as a Practitioner Psychologist which put at risk the reputation of the profession, thereby undermining public trust and confidence.

59. There is no evidence that the Registrant has shown any insight into her wrongdoing or its consequences and no evidence that she has sought to remediate it.

60. The Panel could have no confidence that she would not repeat her misconduct if she were permitted to practise without restriction.

61. Accordingly, the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired having regard to the “personal” component.

62. With regard to the “public” component of impairment, the Panel was mindful of the need to protect patients and service users, to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. In considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired having regard to the “public” component, the Panel applied the test formulated by Dame Janet Smith in her Fifth Shipman Report and referred to by the High Court in Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence v Nursing and Midwifery Council and Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin), 76):

“Do our findings of fact in respect of …. misconduct …… show that her fitness to practise is impaired in the sense that she:

a) has in the past acted and/or is liable to act in the future so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or

b) has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the medical profession into disrepute; and/or

c) has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the medical profession; and/or

d) has in the past acted dishonestly and/or is liable to act dishonestly in the future?”

63. With regard to (a), whilst there is no evidence of the Registrant having caused any direct harm to patients, there was a risk that she might have done so by providing therapy to vulnerable patients without being qualified to do so.

64. The Panel considered that paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of the above formulation are also engaged in the sense that the Registrant’s misconduct involved practising outside her scope of practice and being dishonest about it, which involved breaches of fundamental tenets and thereby brought her profession into disrepute. In the Panel’s judgement, the public interest - the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession - would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made. Accordingly, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her misconduct on public interest grounds.

Decision on Sanction

65. The Panel considered the submissions of Ms Mosley. The Panel received no evidence, submissions, or information by way of mitigation from the Registrant.

66. The Panel took into account the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public and the wider public interest by upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour on the part of registrants and maintaining public confidence in the profession and the HCPC as its Regulator.

67. The Panel considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness and applied the principle of proportionality, balancing the respective interests of the Registrant and the public.

68. The Panel noted the Registrant has been a Practitioner Psychologist for many years without any previous history of regulatory concerns.

69. The Panel noted that there was evidence in the documents of the Registrant having difficulties in her private life but this referred to a period which post-dated the allegations in this case.

70. In the Panel’s judgement, the aggravating factors in this case are the following:

• The Registrant abused the trust that colleagues and patients placed in her by misrepresenting that she was qualified to provide CTfD when she knew that to be untrue
• She persisted in her misrepresentations for a period of approximately 5 years, during which time she treated multiple couples suffering from depression, whom she was not qualified to treat
• Her deception would in all likelihood have continued but for the fact that it was discovered by colleagues, despite her attempts to cover it up
• When her deception was revealed, the Registrant sought to justify herself by saying that she had 30 years’ experience
• She did not avail herself of the opportunity to re-train offered to her after her deception came to light
• She has provided the Panel with no evidence of remorse, insight, reflection or remediation. She has shown no awareness of the potential harm to patients, damage to the reputation of the profession or how public confidence would be undermined by her misconduct
• She has not engaged in these proceedings
• Taking all the above matters into account, there is, in the Panel’s judgement, a significant risk of repetition with continuing risk of harm to patients and damage to the reputation of the profession.

71. The Panel considered the various options by way of disposal in ascending order of seriousness.

72. The case is too serious for the Panel to take no action, as it involves a finding of dishonesty.

73. Mediation is not relevant.

74. A Caution Order is not appropriate because of the serious nature of the Registrant’s misconduct, the fact that it was deliberate and persisted over a number of years and the absence of any mitigating factors.

75. A Conditions of Practice Order is not appropriate because the case relates to the Registrant’s wilful, persistent and dishonest misrepresentations to patients, colleagues and other health professionals about her qualifications, which permitted her to practise outside the scope of her competence for a number of years. The Panel was not satisfied that workable conditions could be formulated to address such concerns.

76. The Panel considered the criteria for imposing a Suspension Order but concluded that the Registrant’s misconduct was so serious as to be fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the Register. The Panel concluded that the Registrant by the serious nature of her dishonesty has demonstrated that she is not trustworthy.

77. The Sanctions Policy provides the following guidance in relation to Striking Off Orders:

“A Striking Off Order is likely to be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the concerns are such that any lesser sanction would be insufficient to protect the public, public confidence in the profession, and public confidence in the regulatory process. In particular where the registrant:

• Lacks insight
• Continues to repeat the misconduct
• Is unwilling to resolve matters

78. The Panel was mindful that a Striking Off Order is a sanction of last resort. In the Panel’s judgment, the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct is such that she is not fit to be a member of the profession. Public confidence in both the profession and the Regulator would be undermined if she were allowed to continue in practice. In the Panel’s judgement, the Registrant has demonstrated both that she lacks insight and is unwilling to resolve matters. The Panel has also concluded that there is a significant risk of repetition, given the attitudinal nature of her dishonesty. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking Off Order.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ione Alexander- Somerville from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

Right of Appeal

You may appeal to the appropriate court against the decision of the Panel and the Order it has made against you. In this case the appropriate court is the High Court in England and Wales.
Under Articles 29 and 38 of the Health Professions Order 2001, an appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you. The Order made against you will not take effect until that appeal period has expired or, if you appeal during that period, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.

Interim Order

1. Ms Mosley made an application for an Interim Suspension Order for a period of 18 months to cover the appeal period or until any appeal lodged has been determined.
2. The Panel was satisfied that it was appropriate to hear the application in the absence of the Registrant, given that the notice of hearing provided her with a link to an HCPC fact sheet which informed her that the Panel could impose an interim order at the conclusion of the substantive hearing. The Panel considered that the Registrant thereby had notice. The Panel also took into account the Registrant’s total lack of engagement in the proceedings.
3. The Panel noted Ms Mosley’s submissions and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
4. Given the Panel’s findings that the Registrant’s actions are fundamentally at variance with remaining on the Register and a Striking Off Order has been imposed, it would be inconsistent with the need for public protection and the wider public interest not to impose some form of interim order. The Panel, for the same reasons it identified above, came to the conclusion that it is impracticable and inappropriate to formulate interim conditions of practice in this instance.
5. The Panel therefore makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary for public protection and otherwise in the public interest, having regard to the Panel’s findings of fact and determination as to impairment and sanction.
6. 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. This Interim Suspension Order is made for the maximum period of 18 months.

 

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ione Alexander-Somerville

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
14/06/2024 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
;