Dr Ewa Oboho

: Practitioner psychologist

: PYL18455

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 10/04/2017 End: 12:30 10/04/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

During the course of your practice as a Forensic Psychologist:

1)     In February 2011 you conducted the following assessments which were not age appropriate for Child A (who was 15 years old at the time of the assessment):

 

a)     Eysenck Personality Scale – Revised;

b)    Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, (3rd Edition).

 

2)     Within your report you did not explain the limitations of the tests you conducted on Child A, in particular in relation to:

 

a)     the significance of the instruments to the questions that you were asked to address in your report;

b)    the use of the EPQ-R which was not appropriate for the child’s age;

c)     the usefulness of the EPQ-R as an individual assessment procedure;

d)    the use of the WAIS-III Scale which was not appropriate for the child’s age;

e)     the fact that the GHQ-28 and HADS assessment were screening instruments and not diagnostic tests;

f)     the fact that the GHQ-28 and HADS assessments rely on the person’s self-report of their recent experience;

g)    the fact that any interpretation of the GHQ-28 and HADS assessment must be made along with all other information known about that person;

h)     the fact that you did not explain the implications of the score obtained in the GHQ-28 and HADS assessments;

i)      the fact that you did not explain the implications of all the scores obtained in the EPQ-R assessment.

 

3)     The matters set out in paragraphs 1) and 2) constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

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

 

Finding

Background

1. The Registrant is a Registered and Chartered Forensic Psychologist. He had been practising as a Consultant Psychologist at Rabamarcs Associates, Harley Street, since 1998.

2. On 18 March 2011 the Registrant prepared a report in relation to Child A. Child A was 15 years old at the time and due to appear before a Youth Court as a defendant in respect of criminal allegations of assault and the possession of an offensive weapon. The Registrant was instructed by Child A’s solicitors to prepare a report on Child A’s fitness to plead.

3. Later in 2011 another psychologist, Dr Rogers, was instructed to undertake a report on Child A, who this time was the complainant in a criminal trial. When completing his report, Dr Rogers had sight of the Registrant’s report and a further report completed by another psychologist on the same child. He recommended to the solicitors that had instructed him that they make a complaint to the HCPC about both reports. They did so.

4. The complaint against the other psychologist was investigated by the HCPC but was subsequently discontinued.

5. The HCPC appointed an expert, Dr Michael Heap, to review the Registrant’s report of 18 March 2011. The HCPC relied solely on Dr Heap’s observations. It was Dr Heap’s analysis alone that formed the basis for the Allegation. No reliance was placed on the concerns raised initially by Dr Rogers. However, his complaint was included in the bundle as context and background information.

6. The hearing at the HCPC took place between 7 - 10 April 2016, during which the particulars of the Allegation detailed above were found proved. The Panel on 10 April 2016, found that the ground of misconduct was made out and determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired at that time.

7. In making it’s determination the Panel considered:

‘that [the Registrant] demonstrated very little insight, limited remorse and no evidence of reflection. [It] noted that [the Registrant’s] admissions were late, having previously contested the expert evidence, and that there was no evidence of the steps he had taken to improve his practice other than using electronic scoring packages of the WAIS and WISC assessment tools which would, he advised, automatically ensure the correct age was entered and the correct test administered.

8. In these circumstances the Panel stated it could not be satisfied, given the lack of sufficient insight and remediation, that there would be no risk of repetition. Accordingly, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired with regards to both the ‘personal and public components’, and that therefore the HCPC’s case was well-founded.

9. The Panel imposed a Conditions of Practice Order in the following terms:

1. For the consideration of a future review panel you must:

A. provide a reflective statement which fully addresses the shortcomings in your conduct that have been found proved, the implications of such shortcomings for clients, service users and professional colleagues, and the steps you have taken to improve your practice as a consequence.

B. provide evidence of your continuing professional development with particular emphasis on the areas of your practice that were the subject of these proceedings eg. evidence of current formal training on psychometric testing and report writing.

2. You must identify a practitioner psychologist registered with the HCPC who is appropriately expert and experienced in the areas of psychometric testing, fitness to plead assessment and report writing, to act as a mentor. The mentor should be made known to the HCPC and you should provide a report from your mentor on your ongoing performance for consideration by a future review panel.

3. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any change in your employment arrangements, providing details of any new employer and your role.

4. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:

A any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work

B any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of the application); and

C any prospective employer (at the time of your application).

Preliminary Matters

Application to Adjourn

10. The Panel first considered an application to adjourn the hearing from the Registrant. He submitted that he required more time to produce information relevant to the review. He stated that he required 2 - 3 weeks from today to produce the reflective piece requested in accordance with Condition 1A of the order. Although he has a piece in ‘draft form’ it is not available to the Panel today. Furthermore, he has had a difference of opinion with his mentor as to how she should proceed in assessing his performance in accordance with Condition 2 of the order and he would require time to clarify the position with her. He explained that delays were caused by his wish to instruct a legal representative and they have had difficulty coordinating a mutually convenient date to take instructions. Also, he had moved house in February 2017.

11. Ms Younis, on behalf of the HCPC objected to the application. She reminded the Panel that this is a statutory review under Article 30 (1) of the Health & Social Work Professions Order 2001. This order must be reviewed before 5 May 2017 when it expires and there is little prospect of the HCPC being able to accommodate a further review hearing in the event that the application is granted within the required time. Ms Younis confirmed that the HCPC had no contact from the Registrant until 6 April 2017, almost a year after the imposition of the order, when he telephoned the Council to request an adjournment.

12. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It noted the contents of the HCPC Practice Note ‘Postponement and Adjournment of Proceedings’, September 2015, and applied the principles and considerations in CPS v Picton [2006]. It also noted the guidance in General Medical Council v Adeogba/ Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162. Although these latter cases dealt primarily with the issue of proceeding in the absence of a Registrant, the principles of balance and fairness are nevertheless applicable to its considerations.

13. The Panel noted that there had been no communication or engagement by the Registrant with the HCPC for almost 12 months following the imposition of the order. The HCPC were unaware that the Registrant had appointed a mentor until he attended the review hearing today. The Panel considered that the Registrant has had sufficient time during the last 12 months to prepare a reflective piece, to arrange a mentor report and instruct solicitors. Failing which, there was adequate time for him to have requested an adjournment at an earlier date prior to the hearing. There was now insufficient time to arrange a statutory review on an alternative date before the order expired. Legislation required that this order is reviewed before 5 May 2017 and the Registrant has been aware of this since 10 April 2016. In all of these circumstances, the Panel concluded that it would be contrary to the public interest to adjourn the hearing. Accordingly, the application was refused.

Decision

14. This is a review of the substantive Conditions of Practice Order, imposed on 10 April 2016 and which came into effect, following the appeal period, on 5 May 2016. It is due to expire on 5 May 2017.

15. The Panel heard representations from Ms Younis on behalf of the Council and considered the evidence and submissions of the Registrant. The Registrant also submitted seven exhibits during the hearing, six of which related to a training course he had attended, the seventh being an email exchange between the Registrant and his mentor, Dr Carol Ireland. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

16. The Panel noted the findings of the previous Panel, that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his misconduct.

17. In undertaking its task today, the Committee is not undertaking a rehearing of the matters which were brought against the Registrant, nor going behind previous findings. The Committee reminded itself that the decision as to what is the appropriate and proportionate disposal at this review hearing is a matter for its judgment alone, and noted the requirements placed on the Registrant by the Committee on 10 April 2017 pursuant to the Conditions of Practice Order regarding evidence to be produced for a future review hearing.

Impairment

18. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, had regard to the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”, dated July 2013 and noted the guidance in the case of Meadows v GMC [2007]1 All ER 1, and Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) v NMC and Grant [2011] EWHC 927.

19. The Panel noted that the Registrant has failed to comply with conditions 1 and 2 of the existing order. Whilst no reflective piece had been provided during the last 12 months since the order was imposed, the Registrant nevertheless gave some evidence which he submitted supported that he had demonstrated insight and learned from his mistakes. He provided evidence that he had been on a training course, which dealt with psychometric testing and report writing in accordance with Condition 1B of the order.

20. The Registrant had appointed a mentor on 5 October 2016, a Dr Carol Ireland, yet he had not notified the HCPC of this matter in accordance with Condition 2. He explained that this was an oversight on his part and he had not realised that he was required to notify the HCPC. Nevertheless, there was no report from the mentor to assist the Panel in its assessment of the Registrant's current fitness to practise. This was largely because she had only been given a report by the Registrant to review two working days before the hearing. Furthermore, it was clear from an e-mail dated 6 April from Dr Ireland that she was unaware of the conditions which the Registrant had been made subject to, until that date.

21. The Registrant has done little to address the failings identified at the final hearing. In particular he has not complied with a number of conditions imposed and has therefore continued to demonstrate very little insight and there has been very little attempt to remedy his failings which are clearly capable of remedy as they relate to practical activities within a professional context.

22. In essence, nothing has changed in the 12 months since the order was imposed. Accordingly, a risk of repetition is still a real possibility. Furthermore, the failings identified, which have thus far gone unaddressed, clearly engage the wider public interest as such poor quality work within a professional capacity and failure to comply with conditions designed to improve performance and protect the public, risked harming confidence in the profession if a finding of impairment were not made.

23. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired in respect of both the personal component and in the wider public interest.

Sanction

24. The Panel is aware that the purpose of any sanction is not to be punitive, though it may have a punitive effect. The Panel has borne in mind that its primary function at this stage is to protect the public, whilst reaching a proportionate sanction, taking into account the wider public interest and those of the Registrant. In so doing, the Panel has taken account of the Indicative Sanctions Policy (”ISP”), applying it to the Registrant’s case on its own facts and circumstances.

25. The Panel had regard to the fact that the Registrant has failed to comply with the conditions as detailed above and there continues to be a lack of insight and remediation of the failings identified. It noted the Registrant’s representations that the Conditions of Practice Order has significantly limited the amount of work he has been able to undertake and that his income has reduced accordingly. Nevertheless, the Panel has found that the Registrant continues to present a risk of harm to the public and the reputation of the profession/regulatory process. In light of all of these matters, the Panel has considered what sanction, if any, should be applied, in ascending order of seriousness.

Allow the order to expire on 5 May 2017

26. The safety of the public and the wider public interest would not be protected if the Panel were to take no action in a case of this seriousness where there is a continuing lack of insight and remediation.

Mediation

27. The Panel does not consider mediation will adequately address the failings in this case due to their serious nature and the continued lack of insight.

Caution

28. A Caution Order would be insufficient to address the risks identified and to protect the wider public interest.

Extension to and/or Variation to the Conditions of Practice

29. The Panel concluded that it would be possible to formulate amended, workable and practicable conditions that would adequately address the issues identified, including the fact that the Registrant has not complied fully with the existing order. An extension and variation to the existing order will also reflect the wider public interest. The Panel has identified that the Registrant’s failings are capable of being remedied and notwithstanding the failure of the Registrant, thus far, to address the failings the Panel is satisfied that he now understands the rigour of these proceedings and his obligations to comply with every condition imposed. It is satisfied that allowing the Registrant to remain in practice, albeit subject to conditions, will address the risks identified.

30. The Panel is mindful of the impact this order may have upon the Registrant. However, it is satisfied that an extension to the Conditions of Practice Order for six months is an appropriate and proportionate sanction in these circumstances. This is sufficient time for the Registrant to address the issues identified. The need to protect the public, and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process, outweighs the impact upon the Registrant of working subject to conditions of practice for a further period of six months. This order represents a chance for the Registrant to demonstrate his ability to comply with the conditions imposed to the next Panel. He has submitted in evidence that he now fully understands his obligations.

31. The Panel is satisfied that today’s review hearing will have focused the Registrant on the task in hand so that he is fully prepared at the next review hearing to provide evidence of his insight and remediation. The additional requirement for supervision will provide reassurance that the Registrant is practising safely.

Suspension Order

32. The Panel gave serious and detailed consideration to a Suspension Order but considered at this first review, that an extension and variation of a Conditions of Practice Order would be sufficient to protect the public and be in the wider public interest.

Striking Off Order

33. In the judgement of the Panel, a Striking Off Order would be disproportionate and unduly punitive in the circumstances described. Furthermore, it would deprive the public of a practitioner who is capable of practising without restriction in due course after a period wherein he is subject to Conditions of Practice, which would be contrary to the wider public interest.

34. Accordingly the Panel determined that an extension and variation to the Conditions of Practice Order, was the necessary and proportionate order at this time.

 

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to vary the Conditions of Practice Order against the registration of Dr Ewa Oboho for a further period of six months on the expiry of the existing order. The Conditions are:

1. For the consideration of a future Review Panel you must: 

 A. provide a reflective statement which fully addresses the shortcomings in your conduct that have been found proved, the implications of such shortcomings for clients, service users and professional colleagues, and the steps you have taken to improve your practice as a consequence. You should provide this statement no later than two weeks before the next review of this order for consideration by a future review panel.


 B. provide evidence of your continuing professional development with particular emphasis on the areas of your practice that were the subject of these proceedings eg. evidence of current formal training on psychometric testing and report writing. You should provide this evidence no later than two weeks before the next review of this order for consideration by a future review panel.

 2. You must identify a practitioner psychologist registered with the HCPC who is appropriately expert and experienced in the areas of psychometric testing, fitness to plead assessment and report writing, to act as a mentor. The mentor should be made known to the HCPC, formally, by 10 May 2017 and you should provide a report no later than two weeks before the next review of this order from your mentor on your ongoing performance for consideration by a future review panel.

3.  You must identify an appropriate supervisor who is registered with the HCPC and provide details of the supervisor to the HCPC by 10 May 2017. You will meet face to face with the supervisor every month and discuss all referrals and reports that you are currently working on or any case studies or clients with whom you have worked. You must submit a report from these meetings, signed by your supervisor, to the reviewing panel no later than two weeks before the next review of this order.  This report will include what you have discussed, your learning from these meetings and any comments that have been made to you by your supervisor about your practice.

 4. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any change in your employment arrangements, providing details of any new employer and your role.


5. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
  

A  any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work 

B  any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of the application); and

  C  any prospective employer (at the time of your application).

The order imposed today will apply from 5 May 2017


 

Notes

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 5 November 2017

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Dr Ewa Oboho

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
05/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
10/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
04/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice