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Locum OT who crossed professional boundaries has suspension extended

OT has suspension extended for further six months

Published on 29th October 2018

A locum occupational therapist who crossed professional boundaries with a service user has had his suspension extended.

Mr Paul Perrett was originally suspended for nine months after a final hearing panel found that while he was working as a locum OT for Sandwell Council he crossed professional boundaries with Service User A.

This included:

- Offering support to Service User A, which was outside of his role, to progress her application for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

- Sent text messages to Service User A which did not relate to his role as an
Occupational Therapist between 6 July 2016 and 23 August 2016.

- Visited Service User A’s home, outside the scope of his work on several dates in July 2016.

- “Air kissed” Service User A during four visits

- Invited Service User A onto his boat

- During a visit which took place in the first week of August 2016, leaned back into Service User A and then turned and kissed Service User A on the cheek

- During a visit which took place in the first week of August 2016, invited Service User A to go to a café with him.

The allegations came to light on 24 August 2016 when Service User A telephoned the council to make a complaint about Mr Perrett. On 2 September 2016, the council referred the matter to the HCPC.

The substantive hearing of the HCPC’s allegations took place between 29 and 31 January 2018. Mr Perrett did not attend the hearing. The facts were found to be proven at that hearing. The HCPC had alleged that Mr Perrett's conduct was sexually motivated, but that was not found proved by the substantive hearing panel. It was determined that the proved facts amounted to misconduct that was currently impairing Mr Perrett's fitness to practise.

The panel decided to suspend Mr Perrett for nine months. The panel encouraged the Registrant to attend a future review hearing and said that the reviewing panel might be assisted if Mr Perrett were to produce the following:

• a written reflective piece dealing with why the misconduct identified in this decision occurred and what steps he has taken to prevent such failings occurring again;

• confirmation that he has undertaken Continuing Professional Development, which should include the importance of maintaining proper professional boundaries;

• written confirmation, including testimonials if appropriate, of any work experience (unpaid or paid) carried out by him which would demonstrate that the concerns of the panel have been addressed.

On 14 October 2018, Mr Perrett stated that he would not be able to attend the review, but that he would be sending a reflection before it occurred. On 17 October 2018 he sent two emails containing a total of three attachments. The documents attached included one entitled, “Reflection on Incident with Sandwell council” dated 17 October 2018. Additionally, two documents were sent that the present Panel has fully considered but which will not be identified in this public determination because they are of a confidential nature.

The Panel recognised that Mr Perrett's reflections recorded in the document dated 17 October 2018 are positive and demonstrate that he has come some way towards achieving a degree of insight into his actions. However, the reflections demonstrated are not complete for two reasons. One is that by referring to issues in his personal life which he said explained his behaviour, he has not accepted full personal responsibility for his actions. The other is that he has not fully acknowledged the consequences of his actions on Service User A or on the reputation of his profession. Mr Perrett's insight being incomplete in these respects, the Panel is unable to conclude that he would not repeat behaviour of the sort found against him.

The Panel is also satisfied that the wider public interest requires a finding of impairment of fitness to practise given the risk of repetition, and the absence of full acknowledgement on the part of Mr Perrett of the consequences of his actions on Service User A and his profession.

The Panel concluded that in fairness to Mr Perrett, he should be given a further opportunity to demonstrate that the risk of repetition has been sufficiently reduced that consideration should be given to permitting him to return to practise as an Occupational Therapist. That being so, the making of a Striking Off order would be disproportionate at the present time.

The Panel therefore decided to further suspend the Registrant for another six months.

The Registrant is urged to consider attending the future review, he should should consider preparing a further reflective piece addressing the reasons why the present Panel has concluded that his fitness to practise is still impaired and should consider providing evidence that he has undertaken focused professional study or training on maintaining proper professional boundaries, indicating what steps he has taken, or would take, to prevent such failings occurring again.

Further, Mr Perrett should consider providing up-to-date information concerning any paid or unpaid employment and professional and personal testimonials might also assist the future reviewing panel.

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