Dr Ewa Oboho

: Practitioner psychologist

: PYL18455

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 05/10/2017 End: 12:30 05/10/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

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

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

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

f. 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

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. This Panel is aware that written Notice of these proceedings was posted by first class post to the Registrant at his registered address on 5 September 2017. Notice was also served by email on the same date. The Panel was shown documents which established the fact of the service and the identity of the Registrant’s registered address and his email address. (It is understood that the Registrant has moved house, and he has been reminded of his duty to notify the HCPC if that is the case.) In these circumstances, the Panel accepted that proper service of the Notice had been effected.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

2. Ms Younis on behalf of the HCPC submitted that this hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

3. There has been no communication from or on behalf of the Registrant with regard to this hearing. The last communication that the HCPC has received from the Registrant was an email dated 10 May 2017. In that email the Registrant asked whether the person who served as his mentor could also act as his supervisor. The HCPC acknowledged the Registrant’s preference.

4. This Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

5. This Panel was aware of the need to consider the application to proceed in the absence of the Registrant with care and caution. However, after giving that application very careful thought, this Panel has determined to allow it. Its reasons are as follows:

• Notice of this hearing has been properly served on the Registrant and has also been sent to his known e-mail address;

• Though the Registrant is aware of his right to apply for an adjournment and the procedure for so doing (he applied to adjourn the hearing held on 10 April 2017), the Registrant has not applied for an adjournment of this review hearing;

• The Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC since his email dated 10 May 2017;

• There is no reason to suppose that if an adjournment was granted, the Registrant would attend;

• This is a mandatory review of the present Order, and therefore needs to be expedited;

• In all the circumstances the absence of the Registrant can be regarded as voluntary.

Background

6. At the review hearing on 10 April 2017, the background to this case was set out in the following terms:

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

In making its 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.

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.

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

For the consideration of a future review panel you must:

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.

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Review on 10 April 2017

7. On 10 April 2017 the panel which reviewed the Order concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired. Its reasons were stated as follows:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

8. Having concluded that the Registrant’s fitness was still impaired, the panel considered what sanction was proportionate and appropriate and concluded that subject to variation, the existing Conditions of Practice Order remained the appropriate sanction. Its reasons were stated as follows:

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

9. The Conditions of Practice Order imposed on 10 April 2017 was in the following terms:

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).

Decision

10. Ms Younis on behalf of the HCPC made submissions to this Panel. In summary she said as follows; that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and that the appropriate Order was a one year Suspension Order. In support of the latter submission she said that, except for the email of 10 May 2017, the Registrant had not engaged substantively with the HCPC since the last review hearing and further, had failed to comply with the Conditions of Practice Order imposed in April 2017 as set out above. She produced a letter dated 1 September 2017 and sent by the HCPC to the Registrant at his registered address. In this letter the Registrant was informed that the Conditions of Practice Order would expire on 5 November 2017 and that a review of that Order was to be scheduled. He was further informed that the review panel would wish to be satisfied that he had complied with the Conditions of Practice Order imposed on 10 April 2017.

11. The Registrant has not made any submissions to the HCPC and has not provided the HCPC with a reflective statement, evidence of continuing professional development, report from a mentor or reports from a supervisor as required by the Conditions of Practice Order imposed in April 2017.

12. This Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

13. This Panel is aware that it has all the powers that are set out in Article 30 (1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 (The Order) and which are summarised in the letter dated 05 September 2017 addressed to the Registrant and giving Notice of this hearing.

14. This Panel is aware that the process under Article 30 (1) of the Order is one of review and not one of appeal and that its function is to determine whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired and if, so whether the Conditions of Practice Order under review remains the appropriate and proportionate means of public protection or should be varied or replaced by some other order.

Impairment

15. This Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. This Panel’s reasons are in substance those expressed by the review panel on 10 April 2017. In summary, they are that the Registrant has failed to engage with the HCPC since his email dated 10 May 2017 and has failed to provide the material required by the Conditions of Practice Order dated 10 April 2017 and identified above. There is therefore no evidence to suggest that he has in any way reflected upon or remediated his serious misconduct.

Sanction

16. Having concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired, this Panel proceeded to consider what order is appropriate, proportionate and sufficient to protect the public and safeguard the public interest. This Panel took into account the principles of proportionality, balancing the interests of the Registrant with the public interest.

17. This Panel has had regard to the contents of the Indicative Sanctions Policy published by the HCPC and is aware that sanctions should be considered in ascending order of severity. This Panel is aware that the purpose of sanctions is not punitive but to protect members of the public and to safeguard the public interest. The latter objective includes maintaining standards within the profession, together with public confidence in the profession and in its regulatory processes. The Panel noted that a Forensic Psychologist’s work put them in contact with the legal profession, for whom standards of professional practice among expert witnesses are paramount. The Registrant also had a duty to engage with the Regulator.

18. This Panel has concluded that to take no action, thus allowing the present order to lapse, making a mediation order or imposing a caution order would be inappropriate having regard to the nature and gravity of the matters found proved. Such outcomes would not sufficiently protect the public or the public interest.

19. This Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate. Its reasons are that the Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC since his email dated 10 May 2017 and has not provided the HCPC with the material required by the Conditions of Practice Order imposed on 10 April 2017. This is despite the Conditions being relatively easy to achieve and extremely clear. Moreover, the Registrant had completely failed to comply with the preceding conditions during 2016-17. In these circumstances, this Panel has concluded that the Registrant will not comply with a Conditions of Practice Order and consequently such an order would not protect the public or safeguard the public interest.

20. This Panel has further concluded that a Suspension Order would not provide sufficient protection for members of the public and would not safeguard the public interest. The Registrant has failed to engage with the HCPC since his email of 10 May 2017. He has not complied with the Conditions of Practice Order dated 10 April 2017, when he was given a second chance to rectify his failings. He also did not comply with the Conditions of Practice dated 7 April 2016. There is no evidence that the Registrant has developed appropriate insight.

21. In view of his non-compliance with the Conditions, which in substance have been in place since April 2016, this Panel has concluded that the Registrant is unwilling or unable to resolve the deficiencies previously identified (as set out in paragraph 48 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy). Whilst this Panel appreciates that striking off is the sanction of last resort, this Panel has concluded that such an order is the only appropriate order to protect the public, to safeguard the public interest and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process, and accordingly, this Panel makes a Striking Off Order.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Dr Ewa Oboho from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 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