David v Health & Care Professions Council (24.11.2015)
D, a social worker, was unsuccessful in her attempt in the Administrative Court to overturn a decision to strike her from the HCPC's register. D was found to have been running a childminding business from her home, while also working full-time as a locum social worker. Among other matters, she was found by an HCPC disciplinary panel to have made dishonest statements to an inspector and it ordered that a caution be placed against her name on the register for one year.
The HCPC successfully appealed that decision and, following a re-hearing, D was struck off. In the re-hearing, the panel gave limited weight to positive professional references adduced by D, as they were not addressed to the panel and it could not be satisfied that D had informed the referees of the proceedings.
D appealed the panel's findings on various grounds, including that the panel had been wrong to draw an adverse inference about the referees' knowledge. However, the court found that the panel had not made an adverse finding based on the references; rather it had explained why it found the references to be of limited assistance, something which it had been entitled to do.
Barnett v General Medical Council (24.11.15)
B, a doctor, was convicted in absentia in Poland for having taken items worth around £3,000 from a hotel room. B maintained that he had found the hotel room door open and had removed the items for safekeeping. It was not clear whether the criminal offence of which he was convicted in Poland involved an element of dishonesty. In any event, B did not appeal against that conviction.
A fitness to practise panel of the GMC considered his case and struck him off, having taken account of a previous eight-month suspension following a conviction for assault. B appealed on a number of grounds, including that the panel had not taken his explanation into account, and that it should have called the Polish police officers who had attended the hotel to give evidence.
However, the appeal was dismissed because the court found that the GMC panel had taken account of B's explanation and had come to its own conclusion that B had been dishonest, rather than relying on the fact of the Polish conviction. It also found that there would have been no point in calling the police officers, as they had given statements and their account only differed from B's in relation to B's intentions when taking the items.
Qureshi v General Medical Council (24.11.15)
Q, a doctor, was struck off by a fitness to practise panel of the GMC which found that he had lied when he told another doctor that he had retired, when in fact he had been working. The panel also found, on the basis of CCTV footage, that Q had shouted during a consultation with a patient and had punched that patient's relative.
On appeal, Q succeeded in having the dishonesty finding overturned, on the basis that the panel had failed to properly assess the evidence and explain its reasons for preferring the evidence of the other doctor over that of Q. However, the court found that there was no basis on which to challenge the panel's finding in respect of the assault and, in particular, its decision to rely on the CCTV footage and disregard the evidence of Q and his two witnesses in respect of the assault. The case was remitted to the panel to reconsider sanction, in view of the fact that the dishonesty finding had been quashed.
Sesay v Nursing & Midwifery Council (24.11.15)
S, a nurse, was found by an NMC panel to have submitted an essay as part of a further course in health which had been 95% plagiarised from an essay submitted by another student the previous year.
The committee considered mitigation, namely S's previously unblemished career, her engagement with the NMC, and positive references. However, her conduct was aggravated by the fact that she had been untruthful throughout the proceedings. Considering the sanctions guidance, the committee felt that it could not be satisfied that S would not be dishonest again, and decided to strike her off.
On appeal, S said that the sanction had been disproportionate and noted that she had recently suffered a bereavement, had subsequently engaged in voluntary activities and had had time to reflect and take responsibility for her actions. However, the court found that, notwithstanding the tragic personal consequences for S of the committee's decision, its reasoning had been impeccable and there was no reason to interfere with its decision.