Miss Reka Jando

: Physiotherapist

: PH95236

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 24/04/2017 End: 17:00 28/04/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

Allegation:

Whilst registered as a Physiotherapist:

 

1. During the course of your employment as a Locum Physiotherapist with Ealing Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, you:

 

a) Submitted timesheets for shifts, which you had not worked, namely:

 

i. 05 February 2014;

ii. 06 February 2014;

iii. 20 February 2014;

iv. 21 February 2014;

v. 24 February 2014;

vi. 25 February 2014;

vii. 26 February 2014;

viii. 27 February 2014;

ix. 28 February 2014;

x. 12 March 2014;

xi. 14 March 2014; and/or

xii. 28 March 2014.

 

b) Submitted timesheets which purported to be signed by Colleague A, when they had not been signed by him, for the week ending:

 

i. 26 January 2014;

ii. 09 February 2014;

iii. 16 February 2014;

iv. 23 February 2014;

v. 2 March 2014;

vi. 09 March 2014; and/or

vii. 16 March 2014.

 

c) Submitted timesheets which purported to be signed by Colleague B, when they had not been signed by her, for the week ending:

 

i. 23 March 2014; and/or

ii. 30 March 2014.

 

2. During the course of your employment as a Locum Physiotherapist with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, you:

 

a) Claimed for payment for hours which you did not work on the following dates:

i. 15 January 2015;

ii. 16 January 2015;

iii. 19 January 2015;

iv. 20 January 2015;

v. 22 January 2015; and/or

vi. 23 January 2015.

 

b) Submitted a claim form for travel expenses dated 6 February 2015 which:

 

I. Claimed for travel expenses to which you were not entitled on:

i. 15 January 2015;

ii. 16 January 2015;

iii. 19 January 2015;

iv. 20 January 2015;

v. 22 January 2015; and/or

vi. 23 January 2015.

 

II. Claimed travel expenses for dates on which you were no longer employed by the Trust, namely:

 

i. 26 January 2015;

ii. 27 January 2015;

iii. 29 January 2015;

iv. 30 January 2015;

v. 2 February 2015;

vi. 3 February 2015;

vii. 4 February 2015;

viii. 5 February 2015; and/or

ix. 6 February 2015.

 

c) Submitted a claim form for travel expenses dated 6 February 2015 (referred to at 2b) above) which purported to be signed by Colleague C when it had not been signed by her.

 

3. Your actions in 1 - 2 above were dishonest.

 

4. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 3 constitute misconduct.

 

5. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

 

1.     On 16 February 2017, the HCPC sent the notice of this hearing by first class post to the Registrant’s registered address. A copy of the notice was also sent on the same date by email. The notice contained the required particulars.

 

2.     Having heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel was satisfied on the documentary evidence provided, that the Registrant had been given proper notice of this hearing in accordance with the Rules.

 

Proceeding in absence of the Registrant

 

3.     Ms Eales on behalf of the HCPC, applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who advised that the discretion to proceed in a Registrant's absence should only be exercised with the utmost care and caution.

 

4.     The Panel had regard to the communications between the Registrant and the HCPC.

 

5.     On 17 August 2016, the Registrant sent an email to the HCPC explaining that she would be available for the hearing after the end of March 2017, if the hearing were to take place in London. A letter was sent by the HCPC to the Registrant on that day to confirm that a hearing would take place in London and requesting her dates to avoid for January to April 2017. On 23 August 2016 and 7 September 2016, chase up emails were sent to the Registrant requesting her dates to avoid, the HCPC not having had a response to their letter of 17 August 2016.

 

6.     On 14 September 2016, the Registrant sent an email to the HCPC updating her permanent home address to an address in Spain. On 15 September 2016, the HCPC sent the Registrant a notice of the Final Hearing with today’s (24 April 2017) date as the start date. On 16 February 2017, the HCPC sent a further copy of the notice to the Registrant’s registered address and her permanent home address, and a copy by was also sent to her by email. No communications have been received from the Registrant since that notice was sent. It follows that the Registrant has not applied for an adjournment of this Final Hearing, nor has she submitted any representations.

 

7.     The Panel was satisfied that the HCPC had fulfilled its obligations and taken all reasonable steps to serve notice on the Registrant in accordance with the Rules.

 

8.     The Allegation comprises two periods of time during which the Registrant worked as a locum Physiotherapist. The first period was from January to end of March 2014 and the second period was in January 2015. The Panel was aware that there are three witnesses in attendance to give evidence today (24 April 2017), with a further two warned for tomorrow (25 April 2017).

 

9.     In light of the above, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had voluntarily waived her right to attend and there was no evidence that she would attend an adjourned hearing. The Panel also considered that it was in the public interest for the hearing to take place.

 

Background:

 

10.   The Registrant is a HCPC registered Physiotherapist.

 

11.   From 20 January 2014 to 31 March 2014, the Registrant was placed through Pertemps Medical Professionals Agency (Pertemps Agency) to work as a locum Physiotherapist within the In-Patient Therapy Team on Furness Ward, at the Willesden Centre (the Centre). This was a 60 bedded In-Patient unit and was part of the Ealing Hospital NHS Trust (Ealing Trust). On 25 March 2014 the Registrant sent an email to Witness 2 giving one week’s notice of her resignation from the position of Band 6 locum Physiotherapist. Her employment there ended on 31 March 2014.

 

12.   It is alleged that the Registrant submitted false time sheets to Pertemps Agency for payment from Ealing Trust, in that she submitted time sheets for shifts which she purported to have worked, but which she had not worked, and which were purported to have been signed by Witnesses 2 and 3 (Colleagues A and B) when they had not been. It is alleged that she did so dishonestly.

 

13.   From 12 January 2015 to 23 January 2015, the Registrant was placed through Your World Healthcare Agency (Your World Agency) as a locum Physiotherapist at Buckingham Healthcare NHS Trust (Buckingham Trust) and worked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital (Stoke Mandeville). The Registrant had registered with Your World in or around 2011.

 

14.   It is alleged that the Registrant submitted false time sheets for hours which she purported to have worked, but which she had not worked. It is also alleged that she submitted a claim sheet for travel expenses to which she was not entitled, and which was purported to have been signed by Witness 5 (Colleague C) when it had not been.

 

15.   It is alleged that she did so dishonestly.

 

Decision on Facts

 

16.   On behalf of the HCPC, the Panel heard evidence from Witnesses 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. It also received the statement from Witness 6.

 

17.   Witness 1 is a HCPC registered Physiotherapist who, at the time of the allegations, was the Interim Therapy Manager based at Willesden. He was responsible for the Registrant’s line management and she was supervised by Witness 2.

 

18.   Witness 2 (Colleague A) is a HCPC registered Physiotherapist who, at the time of the allegations, was employed as a Senior Physiotherapist in the In-Patient Services at Willesden. In that role he was responsible for the supervision of other Physiotherapists, Assistants and Administrative staff and held overall responsibility for providing physiotherapy rehabilitation for In-Patients. He was also responsible for the Registrant’s supervision and for signing her time sheets.

 

19.   Witness 3 (Colleague B) is a HCPC registered Occupational Therapist who, at the time of the allegations was employed as a Senior Occupational Therapist at Willesden, responsible for providing a clinical occupational therapy service on the ward. She was responsible for authorising the Registrant’s time sheets in the absence of Witness 2.

 

20.   Witness 4 is a HCPC registered Physiotherapist who, at the time of the allegations, was a Senior Physiotherapist in the acute In-Patient team at Stoke Mandeville, jointly responsible for a team of nine Physiotherapists and support workers. Her responsibilities included reviewing and signing off time sheets submitted by locum staff.

 

21.   Witness 5 (Colleague C) is a HCPC registered Physiotherapist who, at the time of the allegations was employed as a Physiotherapy Manager at Stoke Mandeville, responsible for the Physiotherapy Service.

 

22.   Witness 6, at the time of the allegations, was employed as a Recruitment Consultant for Physiotherapists at Your World Agency. He was responsible for organising the agency team and placing Physiotherapists in Hospital roles.

 

23.   The Panel also received documentary evidence, including copies of time sheets from both NHS Trusts, copies of the Administration diaries, staffing cover sheets and extracts from Rio and relevant emails sent to or by the Registrant. It also had a copy of the the Investigating Officers’s (not a witness) Report, prepared for Ealing Trust and dated 22 July 2014.

 

24.   The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel understood that the burden of proving each individual fact rests on the HCPC and that the HCPC will only be able to prove a fact if it satisfies the required standard of proof, namely the civil standard, whereby it is more likely than not that the alleged incident occurred.

 

25.   The Registrant did not attend the hearing, but the Panel did not draw any adverse inferences against her from her absence.

 

Ealing Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Particular 1(a)

 

26.   In relation to particular 1(a), the Panel considered each date separately. It had regard to the individual time sheets, the Administration diary (the diary) and the electronic Rio computer entries (Rio) which the Registrant had entered on to the system. The Panel cross referenced these documents for each date alleged.

 

The Panel finds particulars 1(a)(i) and 1(a)(ii) proved.

27.   For the week ending 9 February 2014, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet, which had been submitted to Pertemps, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 7.5 hours on Wednesday 5 February 2014 [1(a)(i)] and 7.5 hours on Thursday 6 February 2014 [1(a)(ii)]. The respective entries in the diary for 5 and 6 February 2014 record that the Registrant was ‘not in’. The entries by the Registrant for those two dates in Rio record ‘Leave - Unplanned tube strike’. Having regard to the entries in the diary and Rio, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had not worked at the Centre on those dates.

 

The Panel finds particulars 1(a)(iii) and 1(a)(iv) proved.

28.   For the week ending 23 February 2014, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet, which had been submitted to Pertemps, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 7.5 hours on Thursday 20 February 2014 [1(a)(iii)] and 7.5 hours on Friday 21 February 2014 [1(a)(iv)]. The respective entries in the diary for 20 and 21 February 2014 record that the Registrant was ‘off’. The entries by the Registrant for those two dates in Rio record ‘Leave annual’. Having regard to the entries in the diary and Rio, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had not worked at the Centre on those dates.

 

The Panel finds particulars 1(a)(v), 1(a)(vi), 1(a)(vii), 1(a)(viii) and 1(a)(ix) proved.

29.   For the week ending 2 March 2014, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet, which had been submitted to Pertemps, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 7.5 hours on Monday 24 February 2014 [1(a)(v)], 7.5 hours on Tuesday 25 February 2014 [1(a)(vi)], 7.5 hours on Wednesday 26 February 2014 [1(a)(vii)], 7.5 hours on Thursday 27 February 2014 [1(a)(viii)] and 7.5 hours on Friday 28 February 2014 [1(a)(ix)]. Each of the respective entries in the diary for  those dates record that the Registrant was ‘off’. Each of the entries by the Registrant for those four dates in Rio records ‘Training – mandatory’.

 

30.   Witness 1 told the Panel that any mandatory training which a locum undertakes is provided by their agency, and the Trust did not provide any training for a locum. Having regard to the entries in the diary and Rio, together with the evidence of Witness 1, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had not worked at the Centre on those dates.

 

The Panel finds particulars 1(a)(x) and 1(a)(xi) proved.

31.   For the week ending 16 March 2014, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet, which had been submitted to Pertemps, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 7.5 hours on Wednesday 12 March 2014 [1(a)(x)] and 7.5 hours on Friday 14 March 2014 [1(a)(xi)]. The entry in the diary for 12 March 2014 records: ‘[Registrant] called at 07:55hrs. Unable to come in today’. The entry in the diary for 14 March 2014 records: ‘[Registrant] sick’ The entries in Rio for those dates record that there has been a ‘hand over’. Having regard to the entries in the diary and in Rio, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had not worked at the Centre on those dates.

 

The Panel finds particular 1(a)(xii) proved.

32.   For the week ending 30 March 2014, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet, which had been submitted to Pertemps, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 7.5 hours on Friday 28 March 2014 [1(a)(xii)]. The entry in the diary for 28 March 2014 records: ‘[Registrant] called to [sic] that she is unwell and might be back Monday’. The entry in Rio for 28 March 2014 records that there has been a ‘handover.

 

33.   Witness 1 said that on 2 April 2014, the Registrant had approached him to discuss the situation. This was after Witness 1 had been in contact with Pertemps and had been copied into emails which Pertemps had sent to the Registrant asking about her absences on 28 and 31 March 2014. On 2 April 2014, the Registrant accepted that she was not in work on 28 and 31 March 2014 and apologised for any miscommunication. Having regard to the entries in the diary and Rio, together with the evidence of Witness 1 that the Registrant had accepted to him that she had not worked on 28 March 2014, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had not worked at the Centre on that date.

 

Particular 1(b)

The Panel finds each of particulars 1(b)(i) to (vii) NOT proved.

34.   The Panel found that Witness 2 struggled to recall the events in his live evidence. This was not a criticism of him, as the events which he was attempting to recall dated back to 2014. However, it did mean that the Panel did not feel able to rely on the accuracy of his evidence. He was taken through each of the time sheets which had been submitted to Pertemps Agency. He said that the signature on each time sheet was his signature, but that it was the printed name and/or date which was not his. In light of this, the Panel concluded that it could not properly rule out the likelihood that Witness 2 (Colleague A) may have signed the time sheets. It was therefore not satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had submitted time sheets which purported to be signed by Colleague A, when they had not been signed by him.

 

Particular 1(c)

The Panel finds particulars 1(c)(i) and 1(c)(ii) proved.

35.   The Panel had regard to the evidence of Witness 3 (Colleague B). She said that she would sign a locum’s time sheet if Witness 2 was absent. The Panel had sight of three time sheets which appeared to have her signature on them. The first was for the week ending 2 February 2014. Witness 3 said that she had signed this time sheet. No queries in respect of hours worked have been raised in respect of it. She said that this was the only time sheet in respect of the Registrant which she had signed.

 

36.   The second time sheet bearing Witness 3’s signature was for the week ending 23 March 2014 [1(c)(i)]. She said that she had not signed this time sheet. In support of this she pointed to the date of the time sheet, which was 21 March 2014. According to the entry in the diary, 21 March 2014 was a date on which she was away on annual leave and so would not have been available to sign the time sheet on this date. The third time sheet bearing her signature was for the week ending 30 March 2014 [1(c)(ii)]. She said that she had not signed this time sheet. In support of this she pointed to the date of the time sheet, which was Thursday 27 March 2014, and said that she would not sign a time sheet before the week had ended. The Panel was satisfied to the required standard from the evidence of Witness 3 (Colleague B) and copies of the time sheets themselves, that the Registrant had submitted time sheets for weeks ending 23 March and 30 March 2014 which purported to be signed by Colleague B when they had not been signed by her.

 

Buckingham Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Particular 2(a)

37.   In relation to particular 2(a), the Panel considered each date separately. It had regard to copies of the individual time sheets which the Registrant had  submitted to Your World, the individual time sheets which were retained by Buckingham Healthcare NHS Trust (Buckingham Trust), and the Respiratory Team Cover Sheets (staff cover). The Panel cross referenced these documents for each date alleged.

 

The Panel finds particulars 2(a)(i) and 2(a)(ii) proved.

38.   For the week commencing 12 January 2015, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet which had been submitted to Your World, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 8 hours 30 minutes on Thursday 15 January 2015 [2(a)(i)] and 8 hours 30 minutes on Friday 16 January 2015 [2(a)(ii)]. The time sheet retained by Buckingham Trust for the same week commencing 12 January 2015, and which Witness 4 said she had corrected before signing, recorded that the Registrant had worked 8 hours on 15 January 2015 and 7 hours and 45 minutes on Friday 16 January 2015. Having regard to the discrepancies between the two time sheets, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had claimed for time that she had not worked on those dates.

 

The Panel finds particulars 2(a)(iii), 2(a)(iv), 2(a)(v) and 2(a)(vi) proved.

39.   For the week commencing 19 January 2015, the Panel was satisfied from the time sheet which had been submitted to Your World, that the Registrant had filled this in as having worked 8.5 hours on Monday 19 January 2015 [2(a)(iii)], 8.5 hours on Tuesday 20 January 2015 [2(a)(iv)], 8.5 hours on Thursday 22 January 2015 [2(a)(v)] and 8.5 hours on Friday 23 January 2015 [2(a)(vi)].

 

40.   The time sheet retained by Buckingham Trust for the week commencing            19 January 2015, and which Witness 4 said she had corrected before signing, recorded that the Registrant had worked 7 hours and 45 minutes on 19 January 2015, had not worked on Tuesday 20 January 2015, had not worked on Thursday 22 January 2015 and had worked 7 hours and 15 minutes on Friday 23 January 2015. The staff cover sheet for the week commencing 19 January 2015 records ‘[Registrant] sick’ on Tuesday 20 January 2015. Having regard to the discrepancies between the two time sheets and the staff cover sheet, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the Registrant had claimed for time that she had not worked on those dates.

 

Particular 2(b)

41.   The Panel had regard to the evidence of Witness 5, who said, in relation to travel expenses, that Buckingham Trust only reimbursed travel expenses for locum staff if their role specifically required them to have use of a vehicle, for example, for travel from the Hospital site to a patient’s home and back again, if the locum’s role included visiting patients at home or in the community. She said that neither locum staff nor substantive staff were reimbursed travel costs for travel to and from work at the beginning or end of the day. She said that the Registrant worked exclusively within Stoke Mandeville with In-Patients. Therefore it was not appropriate for the Registrant to claim any travel expenses.

 

The Panel finds particulars 2(b)(I)(i) and 2(b)(I)(ii) proved.

42.   The Panel had regard to the copy of the travel expenses form which the Registrant had submitted to Your World. It was satisfied that she had claimed travel expenses in that form for 15 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(i)], 16 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(ii)]. On both dates the Registrant had claimed 160 miles for ‘car’ travel from ‘home to work – home’ at a cost of £40 per day. The Panel was satisfied to the required standard from the evidence of Witness 5 and the copy of the travel expense form, that the Registrant had made the claims to which she was not entitled.

 

The Panel finds particulars 2(b)(I)(iii), 2(b)(I)(iv), 2(b)(I)(v) and 2(b)(I)(vi) proved.

43.   The Panel had regard to the copy of the travel expenses form which the Registrant had submitted to Your World. It was satisfied that she had claimed travel expenses in that form for 19 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(iii)], 20 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(iv)], 22 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(v)] and 23 January 2015 [2(b)(I)(vi)]. On each of the four dates the Registrant had claimed 160 miles for ‘car’ travel from ‘home to work – home’ at a cost of £40 per day. Further, the Registrant had not been at work on 20 and 22 January 2014. The Panel was satisfied to the required standard from the evidence of Witness 5 and the copy of the travel expense form, that the Registrant had made the four claims to which she was not entitled.

 

The Panel finds particulars 2(b)(II)(i) to (ix) proved.

44.   The Panel had regard to the evidence of both Witnesses 4 and 5 to the effect that the Registrant finished working at Stoke Mandeville on 23 January 2015. Witness 5 told the Panel that the Registrant had not worked in any other capacity for Buckingham Trust after that date. The Panel had regard to the copy of the timesheet dated 6 February 2015 and was satisfied to the required standard that each of the nine dates for which travel expenses were claimed after 23 January 2015, were dates on which she was no longer working at the Trust.

 

The Panel finds particular 2(c) proved.

45.   Witness 5 said that the claim expenses form, dated 6 February 2015, which had been submitted to Your World had not been signed by her, although the signature on it was in a similar style to her own signature. She was clear that she had not signed it because if she had been provided with it to sign, it would have raised alarm bells with her as the Registrant was not entitled to claim travel expenses, in particular from home to work and back home again. In light of this evidence, the Panel was satisfied to the required standard that the travel expense form dated 6 February 2015 which bore her signature and purported to be signed by her (Colleague C) had not been signed by her.

 

Particular 3:

Dishonesty in respect of particular 1(a) found proved.

46.   The Panel considered the context of the facts found proved in particular 1(a) to determine whether the Registrant had acted dishonestly. The Registrant had started working at Willesden on 20 January 2014. In her third week, the week ending 9 February 2014, she claimed for five days’ worth of shifts, two of which she had not worked, having recorded on Rio that she had unplanned leave due to tube strikes. In the following weeks ending 23 February 2014, 2 March 2014, 16 March 2014 and 30 March 2014, the Registrant submitted time sheets which included shifts which she had not worked. For the week ending 2 March 2014, the time sheet included five days’ worth of shifts, none of which had been worked. In light of the number and frequency of shifts included in time sheets which had not been worked, the Panel was satisfied that these were not errors on the Registrant’s part, but that she would have been aware that that she had submitted time sheets which included shifts which she had not worked. The evidence also showed that the Registrant had received payment from Pertemps Agency for those unworked shifts. The Panel considered that by the standards of ordinary and honest people, submitting claims for financial payment for shifts which have not been worked and so for which there is no entitlement to payment would be regarded as dishonest.

 

47.   The Panel went on to consider whether the Registrant would have realised that her actions were dishonest by those standards. It had regard to the evidence of Witness 1, who said that after the Registrant became aware that an investigation by Ealing Trust had started into the Registrant’s claims, she had gone to see him on 2 April 2014. On that date, she told Witness 1 that there had been a miscommunication about the shifts of 28 and 31 March 2014 on which she had not worked. Witness 1 said that at no stage in their discussion on 2 April 2014 did the Registrant raise with him that there may be other, earlier dates included in time sheets which she had submitted, but had not worked. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was not being candid with Witness 1 about earlier shifts for which she had claimed, but had not worked. The Panel inferred from all the circumstances, that the Registrant realised that submitting claims for financial payment for shifts which have not been worked and so for which there is no entitlement to payment would be regarded as dishonest by the standards of ordinary and reasonable people.

 

Dishonesty in respect of particular 1(c) found proved.

48.   In relation to particular 1(c), the Panel, having found that the Registrant had submitted two time sheets to Pertemps Agency which purported to be signed by Witness 3 (Colleague B), but which had not, in fact, been signed by her, considered whether the Registrant had acted dishonestly. Both time sheets included shifts which had not been worked by the Registrant. The Panel had heard evidence that claims would not be paid by Pertemps Agency if there was no signature authorising the claims. The Panel inferred from all of the circumstances, that the Registrant, without Witness 3’s knowledge, had managed to affix the signature of Witness 3 to the respective time sheets in order to facilitate payment, as it would avoid the scrutiny of an authorising Manager, who may have identified the shifts included in the time sheet which had not been worked. The Panel was satisfied that ordinary and honest people would regard such behaviour as dishonest and that the Registrant realised that what she was doing would be regarded as dishonest.

 

Dishonesty in respect of particular 2(a) found proved.

49.   The Panel considered the context of the facts found proved in particular 2(a) to determine whether the Registrant had acted dishonestly. The Registrant had worked at Stoke Mandeville for two weeks, from 12 to 23 January 2015. In that time she submitted two time sheets, both of which included claims for payment of hours which she had not worked. On both time sheets, Witness 4 had corrected the time sheet to accurately reflect the number of hours which the Registrant had worked. It was clear to the Panel that there were discrepancies between the time sheets which Witness 4 had corrected and signed, and the time sheets for the same weeks which had, in fact, been received from the Registrant by Your World Agency, so that they contained an inflated number of hours worked. On the time sheet for the week commencing 19 January 2015, two additional days had been added to the time sheet submitted to Your World Agency, which the Registrant had not worked. The evidence was that the Registrant had received payment from Your World Agency on the basis of the time sheets it received from the Registrant.

 

50.   In light of the number and frequency of hours included in time sheets which had not been worked, and the fact that this was the second Trust where the Registrant submitted time sheets for payment of hours not worked, the Panel was satisfied that these were not errors on the Registrant’s part, but deliberate acts by her in order to obtain financial benefit to which she was not entitled. The Panel was satisfied that ordinary and honest people would regard such behaviour as dishonest and that the Registrant realised that what she was doing would be regarded as dishonest.

 

Dishonesty in respect of particulars 2(b) and 2(c) found proved.

51.   The Panel considered the context of the facts found proved in particulars 2(b) and 2(c) together to determine whether the Registrant had acted dishonestly. The Panel considered the claim form for travel expenses, dated 6 February 2015. This date was two weeks after the Registrant had left Stoke Mandeville and the evidence was that she was not working in any other capacity at Buckingham Trust. The travel expenses claim form contained a total of 13 dates for travel from home to and from work, none of which was the Registrant entitled to claim for. Witness 6 at Your World Agency had had a conversation with the Registrant regarding travel expenses, explaining that Buckingham Trust would not normally authorise them, but Your World Agency would pay them if they were signed off by Buckingham Trust. A total of £302.50 was paid by Your World Agency to the Registrant on receipt of the travel expense form with signature.

 

52.   The Panel inferred from all of the circumstances, that the Registrant, without Witness 5’s knowledge, had managed to affix the signature of Witness 5 to the travel expenses claim form in order to facilitate payment of travel expenses to which she was not entitled. The Panel was satisfied that ordinary and honest people would regard such behaviour as dishonest and that the Registrant realised that what she was doing would be regarded as dishonest.

 

Statutory Ground

 

53.   Ms Eales submitted that dishonesty amounted to misconduct as it fell seriously short of the standards to be expected of a Registrant. She submitted that there had been breaches of the relevant standards.

 

54.   The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that any finding of misconduct was a matter for the independent judgement of the Panel.

 

55.   The Panel had regard to its findings that the actions of the Registrant in claiming payment for shifts and hours which she had not worked at two separate Trusts, and for travel expenses to which she was not entitled was dishonest. It considered that this was deliberate and repeated dishonesty for financial gain. It concluded that such dishonest behaviour fell far below the standards to be expected of a registered Physiotherapist, and that it amounted to misconduct.

 

56.   The Panel also found that the Registrant had breached the following Standards:

56.• Standards of conduct performance and ethics –

 

3      – You must keep high standards of personal conduct.

13 – You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.

 

• Standards of proficiency Physiotherapists –

 

3.1 – understand the need to maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct.

 

Impairment

 

57.   Having determined that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct, the Panel went on to consider whether her fitness to practise is currently impaired as a consequence of that misconduct.

 

58.   Ms Eales submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. She submitted that there had been no engagement in these proceedings by the Registrant, and so there was no evidence of insight or remorse before the Panel. She also submitted that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made in this case.

 

59.   The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that what has to be determined is whether there is current impairment that is looking forward from today. The Panel had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on Impairment, and in particular the two elements of impairment, namely the ‘personal component’ and the ‘public component’.

 

60.   The Panel first considered the ‘personal component’.

 

61.   In the absence of any engagement in these proceedings by the Registrant, the Panel had no evidence before it of whether there had been any insight or remorse by the Registrant in respect of her dishonest conduct. The dishonesty had been repeated and, in the Panel’s view, a concerted pattern of behaviour for financial gain. It had been carried out at two different NHS Trusts. In the circumstances, the Panel was unable to conclude anything other than that there was a risk of repetition that the Registrant would act dishonestly in the future. The Panel therefore concluded that in respect of the ‘personal component’, the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired.

 

62.   The Panel went to to consider the ‘public component’.

 

63.   The Panel acknowledged that this was not a case which involved issues of public protection. However, the Panel was of the view that honesty and integrity are fundamental tenets of the profession and the Registrant had deliberately and repeatedly breached those tenets for financial gain. In such circumstances, the Panel was of the view that public confidence in the reputation of the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in this case. Similarly, the Panel concluded that a finding of Impairment was required in order to uphold and maintain professional standards. Accordingly, in respect of the ‘public component’ the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

63.

Sanction

64.   Having concluded that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel went on to consider what would be the appropriate, proportionate and sufficient sanction or other outcome in this case.

 

65.   The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and considered the sanctions in ascending order of severity. The Panel was aware that the purpose of a sanction is not to be punitive, but to protect the public and to safeguard the wider public interest, which includes upholding standards within the profession, together with maintaining public confidence in the profession and its regulatory process.

 

66.   The Panel considered that there were no mitigating factors in this case.

 

67.   The Panel considered that the following were aggravating factors:

 

a.     The misconduct was a pattern of dishonest behaviour at two separate Trusts.

 

b.     The misconduct was for financial gain.

 

c.     The Registrant’s actions in affixing the signatures of Managers to time sheets or the travel expenses form, in order to claim for payment to which she was not entitled, had the potential to adversely affect the reputation of those Managers.

 

d.     The Registrant’s lack of engagement with the HCPC and these proceedings.

 

68.   As previously set out, in the absence of any engagement by the Registrant with the HCPC in these proceedings, the Panel had no evidence of remorse or insight on the part of the Registrant. The Panel therefore has no information specifically as to whether she recognises the seriousness of her dishonest conduct and the impact of her dishonesty on the reputation of the profession.

 

69.   The Panel does not consider the options of taking no further action or mediation to be appropriate or proportionate in the circumstances of this case. Neither would address the identified risks, including the risk of repetition, nor meet the wider public interest as the case is too serious.

 

70.   The Panel does not consider that a Caution Order would meet the criteria as set out in paragraph 22 of the ISP. As previously found, there was no evidence of insight or remorse and there was a risk of repetition. The Panel determined that the seriousness of the case meant that a Caution Order would not be appropriate and proportionate.

 

71.   The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel took account of paragraph 27 of the ISP, which indicates that the imposition of conditions requires a commitment on the part of the Registrant to resolve matters and so conditions of practice are unlikely to be suitable in cases where

71.the Registrant ‘lacks insight’ or ‘involving dishonesty’ as is the case here. The Panel concluded that the misconduct was too serious for a Conditions of Practice Order, as such an Order would not maintain public confidence in the profession.

 

72.   The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. The Panel had regard to paragraph 32 of the ISP, which states: ‘Suspension should be considered (…) where the allegation is of a serious nature but unlikely to be repeated and, thus, striking-off is not merited’. The Panel is satisfied that the allegation was of a serious nature. However, for the reasons stated above, the Panel has not concluded that the behaviour was ‘unlikely to be repeated’. The Panel therefore considered that a Suspension Order was not the appropriate and proportionate response.

 

73.   The Panel next went on to consider a Striking Off Order. The Panel considered that paragraph 40 of the ISP was relevant. It says: ‘Striking off is a sanction of last resort for serious, deliberate or reckless acts involving (…) dishonesty’. The Panel also had regard to paragraph 42 which states: ‘Striking off may also be appropriate where the nature and gravity of the allegation are such that (…) any lesser sanction would (…) undermine public confidence in the profession concerned…’. The Panel had regard to its earlier findings regarding the serious nature of the dishonesty. In light of this, the Panel did not consider that any lesser sanction than a Striking Off Order would meet the wider public interest, including acting as a deterrent effect to other Registrants; upholding the reputation of the profession and maintaining public confidence in the regulatory process. The Panel therefore determined that a Striking Off Order was the only appropriate and proportionate sanction.

 

74.   The Panel acknowledged that such an Order would be likely to have a serious financial impact upon the Registrant as she will be unable to practise as a Physiotherapist. However, the Panel determined that the interests of maintaining public confidence in the profession and upholding professional standards outweighed the interests of the Registrant.

Order

ORDER:  The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Reka Jando from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 24 May 2017 (the Operative Date).

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Reka Jando

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off