Mr Terence J Whitehead

: Occupational therapist

: OT22581

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 11/07/2017 End: 17:00 11/07/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Voluntary Removal agreed

Allegation

The allegation is as follows:

While registered as an Occupational Therapist, and working at Sunderland City Council you:

1)    You did not contact and / or record visits with:

 

a)    service user C5 between 9 May 2014 and 23 October 2014 and / or

b)    service user C6 between 17 September 2014 and 15 December 2014 and / or

c)    service user C10 between 2 October 2014 and 10 September 2015 and / or

d)    service user C16 between 15 April 2015 and 16 September 2015 and /or

e)    service user C25 between 18 February 2015 and 16 September 2015 and / or

f)     service user C27 between 20 March 2015 and 16 September 2015

 

2)    2. In relation to the case of service user C2 you did not:

 

a)    make case entries between 11 June 2015 and 10 July 2015 in a timely manner and / or

b)    have direct contact with the service user between 11 June 2015 and 10 July 2015 and / or

c)    order alternative slings in a timely manner and / or

d)    check the effectiveness of the seating provided for installation of Possum system in a timely manner

 

3)    In relation to the case of service user C3 you:

 

a)    provided glove slings which were unsuitable and / or

b)    did not visit and / record your visit to C3 on 12 November 2014 and / or

c)    did not make a record of your assessment for in-chair slings and / or

d)    did not assess and / or reassess the need for showering equipment and / or

e)    did not record case notes in a timely manner and / or

f)     did not record your visit to C3 on 17 July 2015 in a timely manner and / or

g)    left the four way glide sheet at C3’s residence despite:

 

i)      The customer’s lack of their cooperation and / or

ii)     Safety implications

 

h)    Did not record other options considered for showering and reasons why they were appropriate or not and / or

 

i)      Did not record any case entries between 14 May 2015 and 16 July 2015

 

4)    4. Your report for service user C6 did not contain sufficient detail in that you:

 

a)    did not mention how transfer and access to bathing facilities would be and / or managed once adaptions were provided and / or

b)    did not mention a further assessment being required and / or

c)    did not mention costing and / or

d)    suggested that the customer would not be able to walk again and will be wheelchair dependent for mobility without obtaining supporting medical evidence

 

5)    5. In relation to the case of service user C8 you:

 

a)    Provided an unsuitable chair table and / or

b)    Did not review the suitability of the chair table

 

6)    In relation to service user C9 you did not check that adaptions were completed for 10 months.

 

7)    In relation to the case of service user C10 you did not:

 

a)    conduct a functional assessment of service user C10 and / or

b)    assess whether the Clos – o – mat was a suitable provision to meet the identified need and / or

c)    share information in relation to a Disabled Facilities Grant with the parents of service user C1O and / or

d)    listen to the views of the mother of service user C10 concerning appropriate equipment

 

8)    In relation to the case of service user C11:

 

a)    You did not create an adequate assessment and / or

b)    You did not record whether the Mangar Pillow Lift was suitable in a timely manner as requested and / or

c)    You did not record whether the over bath shower unit was repaired and / or meeting the service user’s needs and / or

d)    When you became aware that the customer was unable to manage his bathing provision you did not re-instigate assistance or involvement from OT service

 

9)    In relation to the case of service user C13 you did not:

 

a)    progress the case despite assessing as high risk and / or

b)    follow management instruction to:

i)      complete an assessment and / or

ii)     complete a case report

 

10) In relation to service user C16, you did make contact with service user C16 to reassess their moving and handling needs as requested

 

11) In relation to the case of service user C24 you:

 

a)    did not record and / or review the shower chair and / or

b)    provided an alternative tilt in the space shower chair which was unsuitable and / or

c)    attempted to arrange a Clos-o-mat which was inappropriate

 

12) In relation to the case of service user C26 you:

 

a)    Put the service user at risk in that you did not assess the suitability of the specialist seating equipment provided and / or

b)    Did not check their hospital admission history and / or

c)    Were unaware of emerging risks in relation to bed safety and / or

d)    Did not contact with the service user and / or carer between 2 January 2015 and 3 September 2015 and / or

e)    Did not put in place measures to prevent for the service user falling from the bed

 

13) In relation to the case of service user C28 you did not:

 

a)    Following your visit to the service user on 8 May 2015:

 

i)      take further action until 25 June 2015 and / or

ii)     obtain a second estimate for the provision of a replacement bed and / or

 

b)    progress the case between 7 August 2015 and 16 September 2015

 

14) In relation to the case of service user C30, on or around 12 August 2015, you did not:

 

a)    leave documentation with the service user advising how a glove sling could be applied and / or

b)    complete a formal assessment report and / or

c)    complete a manual handling checklist

 

15) In relation to the case of service user C31 you did not:

 

a)    Visit the service user in a timely manner and / or

b)    complete an initial assessment to the required standard of accuracy and depth despite an urgent assessment being required

 

16) In relation to the case of service user C32 you:

 

a)    you attended a visit on 5 March 2015 and did not take slings with you and / or

b)    did not maintain timely and effective communication with regard to your assessment outcomes and planned actions and / or

c)    did not coordinate visits with appropriate company representatives in a timely manner

 

17) In relation to the case of service user C33, you did not contact and / or record your contact with the service user to arrange handover of re-issue portable ramping

 

18) The matters set out in paragraphs 1 to 17 above constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

 

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

Finding

Preliminary matters

Service of Notice

1. The Panel found that there was good service of the Notice of Hearing by a letter sent to the Registrant’s registered address dated 12 June 2017.

Proceeding in absence

2. Ms Ebanks made an application for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She submitted that the Registrant is aware of the hearing, the hearing is to consider a consent order, and the Registrant has signed the proposed Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA).

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is fully aware of today’s hearing and that his absence is voluntary. There is no information to suggest that he might attend at a later date if this hearing was adjourned. The Registrant’s position in respect of today’s hearing is indicated by the fact that he has signed the Voluntary Removal Agreement.  There is a public interest in the matter being dealt with expeditiously. The Panel therefore exercised its discretion to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.

Background

5. The Registrant is an Occupational Therapist (OT). He commenced employment at Sunderland City Council (“the Council”) on 4 January 1994 as a Community Occupational Therapist. From September 2014 he worked as a Grade 8 Community Occupational Therapist in the Independent Living Team under the management of MG, Team Manager.

6. When MG became responsible for the management of the Registrant she identified issues with his contact with service users. She supported the Registrant through supervision, management of the Registrant’s case load, stress management assessments, and development plans. Despite this support MG did not find that there was a sustained improvement in the areas of concern she had identified. The Registrant raised concern about his workload. MG considered these issues and took the view that his case load was proportionate to the Registrant’s grade and the hours he was working. An application by the Registrant to reduce his working hours was agreed, and this change was taken into account when allocating cases to the Registrant.

7. The concerns persisted and the Registrant was invited to a capability review meeting on 18 December 2015. The Registrant was suspended from duty on 6 January 2016. On 4 February 2016 the Registrant wrote to the Service Manager stating that he had decided to take retirement. This resignation was accepted by the Council.

8. The areas of concern were:

• Case recording that did not meet the required standards in terms of accuracy, detail and timeliness;

• Delays in progression of casework and failure to prioritise specific tasks, resulting in service users potentially being left at an unacceptable degree of risk;

• Failure to act on clear management instructions;

• Assessment of service users and their situations that did not meet an acceptable standard, leading to the implementation of care plans that did not meet the needs of the service users;

• Poor standards of care for service users, resulting in complaints from service users regarding their experience of the service with specific regard to written and verbal communication.

9. On 16 November 2016 a Panel of the Investigating Committee decided that there was a case to answer in relation to the Allegation. The Allegation refers to both misconduct and/or a lack of competence.

10. In a letter received by the HCPC on 24 January 2017 the Registrant stated that, given his age and ill health, he should retire. The case manager wrote to the Registrant on 6 February 2017 and gave the Registrant the option of consenting to remove himself from the Register. The case manager explained that a Panel of the HCPC would consider whether it was appropriate to deal with the case in this way.

11. In a letter received by the HCPC on 15 February 2017 the Registrant wrote to the HCPC stated that he gave consent to be removed from the HCPC register voluntarily and that “I have no intention of ever returning to any occupational therapy work”. The HCPC received a signed VRA from the Registrant on 5 July 2017, which had been signed by the Registrant on 3 July 2017.

12. On 13 June 2017 the Registrant sent an e-mail to the case manager stating that he wished the Panel to consider further supporting evidence. The supporting evidence submitted with the Registrant’s e-mail was a letter dated 2 October 2016 addressed to the HCPC and a reference dated 1 April 2017 from a manager at Able-2. In the reference the Registrant is described as an Occupational Therapist. A further email was sent by the Registrant to the HCPC on 5 July 2017, which included a positive reference from a former Occupational Therapist colleague.

13. During the hearing the Panel asked for information about any contact between the Registrant and the case manager relating to his employment by Able-2. The Panel also asked for confirmation that the Registrant had cancelled his direct debit payment for his HCPC registration. After making enquires, Ms Ebanks confirmed that the Registrant had cancelled his direct debit payment. Ms Ebanks also told the Panel there was no contact with the Registrant relating to his employment by Able-2, whether by telephone or in correspondence. During the hearing the case manager sent an e-mail to the Registrant and attempts were made by Ms Ebanks to contact him by telephone. While the Panel were deliberating the Registrant sent an e-mail to the case manager stating: “I confirm that I have not worked for Able-2 for two months now, as the work I was doing had completed”.

Decision

14. Ms Ebanks submitted that the VRA was appropriate. It provided adequate protection for the public because the Registrant would be removed from the Register and there were no public interest reasons to suggest that a VRA was inappropriate in the circumstances of this case.

15. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent. The Panel recognises that it is the guardian of the public interest: its role is to consider all the circumstances and it may decide to reject the VRA if it does not provide sufficient protection for the public, or if it does not protect the wider public interest.

16. The Panel first considered carefully whether the Registrant understood the consequences of a VRA. In his letters dated 24 January 2017 and 15 February 2017 the Registrant was very clear that he agreed that he had no intention of working as an OT. He explained that this was for health reasons and that he had retired. He further indicated in the letter of 15 February 2017 that he agreed to a VRA.

17. The Panel noted that the Registrant has signed the VRA and that this is self-explanatory. The Registrant could be in no doubt that he would not be able to practise as an OT if the Panel approved the VRA at today’s hearing.

18. The Panel considered the reference from Able-2 and decided that the Registrant had submitted this reference for the consideration of the Panel to support his reputation. He intended to provide balance against the negative information provided by MG, but the submission of this information did not indicate that he has changed his decision not to practise as an OT.

19. The e-mail from the Registrant dated 11 July 2017 assisted the Panel. That e-mail confirms that he is not currently working for Able-2 and has not worked for Able-2 for two months. The Panel therefore decided that the submission of the Able-2 reference did not indicate that the Registrant did not understand the effect of the VRA.

20. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has admitted the Allegation. He has signed the letter at Schedule B asking for his name to be removed from the Register and the letter confirms that he has admitted the Allegation.

21. The Panel decided that the VRA provides adequate protection for members of the public. The Registrant will be removed from the Register and will be unable to practise as an OT. If he applied to rejoin the Register he would be treated as if he had been struck off the Register. The VRA therefore provides a high degree of public protection.

22. The Panel next considered the wider public interest including the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulator, and to uphold standards of conduct and behaviour.

23. The Panel considered whether an informed member of the public would be concerned if the Panel approved the VRA and there was no public hearing of the Allegation. The Panel’s view was that an informed member of the public would not consider that a public hearing was required in this case. In the Panel’s view the Allegation in this case is serious, but it is not of the highest degree of gravity. There is no evidence that any actual harm was caused to a service user and the Allegation does not involve serious behavioural matters. In the Panel’s view an informed member of the public would recognise that the VRA provides protection for the public and demonstrates that the regulator is acting appropriately in ensuring that the Registrant does not practise as an OT.

24. The Panel did not identify any public interest reasons why a VRA is not appropriate in the circumstances of this case.

25. The Panel therefore decided to approve the VRA. 

Order

The Panel approved the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

Notes

If the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time the application would be treated as if the registrant had been struck off as a result of that allegation.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Terence J Whitehead

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
11/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed