Ms Hema Shah

: Biomedical scientist

: BS28672

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 15/02/2017 End: 17:00 15/02/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

 

During the course of your employment as a Biomedical Scientist by The Christie Pathology Partnership, you:

 

1. Between April 2014 to July 2014, in relation to Colleague ‘A’ and/or Colleague ‘B’ failed to:

a. maintain adequate training for blood transfusion; and/ or; proven

 

b. maintain appropriate training records proven

 

2. Between November 2013 and July 2014, did not ensure that the appropriate standards were maintained in relation to the cleaning and/or decontamination of:

a. Fridges; proven

 

b. Freezers; proven

 

c. Incubators; proven

 

d. Agitators; and/or proven

 

e. Centrifuges proven

 

3. Between November 2013 and July 2014, did not ensure that regular testing of the Blood Transfusion alarm system was undertaken. proven

 

4. Between January 2014 and June 2014, did not ensure availability of the appropriate stock levels of: proven

 

a. Diasure QC material (for ID Gelstation); and/or not proven

 

b. Anti- S. proven

 

5. On 23/24 April 2014, following a decontamination procedure, you and/or a member of your team, put the Diamed Gelstation back into routine use despite having no Anti- S to ensure that no bleach remained present. proven

 

6. Between 23 April 2014 and 24 April 2014, did not sign QC logs off appropriately in that you recorded the QC result as a pass when it failed. proven

 

7. The matters described in paragraphs 1 – 6 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence. 3

 

8. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters
1. The Panel has been convened to undertake a review of a Suspension Order imposed for a period of 6 months in respect of the HCPC registration of the Registrant.

Service and proceeding in absence
2. The Registrant has neither attended this hearing nor been represented at it.  The Panel first considered whether a valid notice of hearing had been communicated to the Registrant and concluded that the letter dated 13 January 2017 informing her of this hearing constituted good notice of hearing.

3. After the Panel announced its decision that it found good service of the notice of hearing, the Presenting Officer applied for a direction that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.  The Panel acceded to this application for the following reasons:
• The Registrant had not responded to the Notice of Hearing which amounted to a voluntary waiver of her right to attend.
• The Registrant had made no request for an adjournment.
• There is a statutory requirement to hold a review no later than 21 March 2017, and there is no material from which the Panel could conclude that the Registrant would be likely to attend on another occasion before that date if it did not proceed at the present time.
• For these reasons the Panel has concluded that the clear public interest in the hearing proceeding outweighs the absence of the Registrant.

Decision
4. The Registrant was employed as a Band 7 Biomedical Scientist in the Blood Transfusion Department of the Christie Pathology Partnership (“the Christie”).  In that post she was responsible for the day-to-day supervision of Biomedical staff working in the Blood Transfusion Laboratory.  In 2014 managers had concerns about the standard of her work, and in due course those concerns resulted in the Christie making a referral to the HCPC.

5. The referral to the HCPC resulted in the allegations set out at the head of this document.  The issues alleged against the Registrant are clearly set out in the Particulars and require no further elaboration.  The final hearing of the allegations took place between 22 and 24 August 2016.  The Registrant did not attend the final hearing.  The final hearing Panel found the facts indicated above to be proved, that they amounted to misconduct and that the misconduct was then impairing the Registrant’s fitness to practise.

6. The sanction imposed by the final hearing Panel was the Suspension Order for a period of 6 months currently being reviewed.  In imposing this sanction the final hearing Panel stated this:

“…. This is a case where the Registrant has demonstrated a history of 9 years’ employment as a Band 7 Biomedical Scientist without professional misconduct or lack of competence. There are aspects of her competence that have been seen as positive by her line manager. Against that background the Panel is satisfied that if the Registrant were to make a positive future engagement with this regulatory process she may be able to provide a future panel with evidence that shows she is safe to practise again as a Biomedical Scientist even though there might be a need for some continuing restrictions on practice.  On that basis the Panel is satisfied that the period of 6 months provides the correct and proportionate balance between:

(i) the need for adequate public protection, public confidence and
(ii) an opportunity for the Registrant to demonstrate on a future occasion that she has insight into her past failings and has taken remedial action.

Given the prospect of future insight and remediation the Panel is satisfied that a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate and not appropriate.”

The final hearing Panel added that it might assist a future reviewing Panel if the Registrant could explain what action she had taken to correct matters and to avoid repeating her shortcomings.  It was suggested that this might be achieved by providing evidence of training to demonstrate that she had kept up to date Biomedical skills and knowledge, and also by providing evidence of testimonials from paid or unpaid work.

7. At the present review the Presenting Officer did not submit that the Panel should make any particular order.  She did, however, urge the Panel to have regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.  She also asked the Panel to have regard to three points, namely, whether there was evidence that the Registrant had maintained her professional knowledge, whether she had shown sufficient insight into her behaviour and whether it could be said that the Registrant would not repeat the behaviour found against her.

8. No information has been submitted to the Panel by the Registrant.  When the Panel requested to be informed of what engagement there had been by the Registrant in the HCPC fitness to practise process, the Panel was informed that prior to the decision of a Panel of the Investigating Committee that there was a case to answer, and for the purposes of that decision, the Registrant sent an email dated 16 December 2014 setting out her case. The next communications from the Registrant were on two occasions in the July 2015 when she requested that her name should be removed from the HCPC Register. There have been no further communications by the Registrant to the HCPC since she requested in July 2015 that her name be removed from the Register.

9. In undertaking this review the Panel has applied the following principles:
• The findings of the final hearing Panel made in August 2016 are now settled and not open to be questioned.
• The issue for the present Panel is to decide whether the findings made in August 2016 require the imposition of a sanction when the present period of suspension ends on 21 March 2017.  In making this decision the Panel is not only required to take into account the findings made in August 2016 in relation to the allegations, but also all that has and has not occurred in the period between the final hearing in August 2016 and the present time.
• In deciding on the issue of sanction, ordinary sanction considerations apply.  In particular, a sanction is not to be imposed to punish.  Rather, a sanction should be the least restrictive order consistent with the need to protect the public (including potential service users) and to maintain a proper degree of confidence in the registered profession and the regulatory process currently being undertaken.  The fact that there has been a period of suspension for 6 months does not give rise to a presumption that there will be a further sanction, still less that it should be one of a further period of suspension.  If the Panel determines that a further sanction is required, then the available sanctions must be considered in an ascending order of seriousness until one is reached that sufficiently addresses the issues of public protection and the maintenance of confidence just referred to.  The sanction powers available when undertaking a review are those that were available to the preceding Panel.  As the sanction of striking-off was available to the final hearing Panel, that sanction is available to the present Panel in undertaking this review.

10. The Panel is of the clear view that the findings made against the Registrant by the final hearing Panel in August 2016 were very grave indeed.  They had very serious implications with regard to patient safety, and significant consequences for her relationships with staff for whom she was responsible.  In the judgement of the Panel a further sanction is required upon the expiry of the current period of suspension.  Without significant evidence of remediation a sanction which would enable the Registrant to return to work as a Biomedical Scientist would not be appropriate, even if that work was undertaken under restrictions.  It follows that the choice of sanction is between a further period of suspension and striking-off.

11. The present Panel considers that a Suspension Order would be appropriate if there was a realistic prospect of future engagement in the process and remediation of the shortcomings identified.  However, the position is that there has now been a final hearing and a review of the sanction imposed at that final hearing, and the Registrant has neither attended nor engaged in either of those hearings in any way at all.  She has not communicated with the HCPC for over 18 months, and her last communications were to request removal from the HCPC Register.  These facts have resulted in the Panel concluding that there are no grounds for believing that there will be either any future engagement in the process or attempt at remediation. The consequence of the Registrant’s apparent inability or unwillingness to resolve matters is that a further period of suspension is not appropriate, with the result that the appropriate sanction to impose at the present time is a Striking-Off Order.  Given the seriousness of the findings and the absence of engagement and failure to remediate, the Panel is satisfied that this is a proportionate response in the circumstances.

Order

With effect from the expiry of the current period of suspension, namely with effect from 21 March 2017, the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Hema Shah from the Register.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Ms Hema Shah

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
22/08/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended