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OT who failed to carry out risk assessment is struck off

HCPTS Panel strikes off OT following three periods of suspension

Published on 17th December 2018

An occupational therapist who failed to carry out a risk assessment has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register.

Colin Towner was struck off the register and banned from practising as an occupational therapist following two 12 month and one six month suspension for failing to carry out a risk assessment prior to a walk with service users in 2013.

Mr Towner had led a walk, involving five service users who were in-patients at the Meadows 24/7 Assessment and Treatment Unit where he was a Band 5 Occupational Therapist on 5 July 2013. He had not conducted risk assessments prior to the walk and had therefore placed the service users, who were all vulnerable people, at risk.

Mr Towner was accompanied on the walk by Occupational Therapist Technician, Witness 2, who was concerned that Mr Towner had not adequately assessed the risks before taking the service users on a walk. Witness 2 reported the walk to her manager, Sheila King.

An investigation was subsequently undertaken which resulted in a disciplinary hearing. Whilst subject to the capability procedure Mr Towner failed to make adequate reports in relation to two other service users and was subsequently dismissed by his employer in June 2014.

It emerged that Mr Towner had accessed each of Service Users Rio Records during the morning before the walk in question and the final hearing panel in 2016 highlighted that Service User C had undergone Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) that morning after a general anaesthetic. She would have had limited nutrition since the night before and would not have been expected to be fit to participate in the walk.

Service User A was recorded as being capable of walking no further than 10 minutes but this walk was at least twice that length. Service User B had dementia and there were concerns in relation to her mental health as she had severe short term memory problems, Service User D had a history of wandering and of getting lost and suffered from significant memory problems and Service User E had an increased risk of falling due to weakness on her feet.

Mr Towner admitted that these failures amounted to a lack of competence and was suspended for 12 months at the final hearing in 2016. The Panel advised Mr Towner on the type of information which would help a reviewing panel to make a future decision, yet at the review hearing in 2017, Mr Towner had made no communication with the HCPC since the last review and there was no information available about his circumstances.

The reviewing panel in 2017 suspended Mr Towner for a further 12 months yet at the review of this suspension in May 2018, the panel had no further information to assist the case aside from an email from Mr Towner saying he had no intention of working as an occupational therapist. The review panel suspended him for a further six months.

Last week yhe Panel noted an email dated 2 December 2018 in which Mr Towner reiterated to the HCPC that he has no intention of practising as an Occupational Therapist in the future and wishes the “the matter to be settled once and for all and the investigation closed”.

"It was clear that the Registrant had a settled intention not to return to practise as an Occupational Therapist and therefore had no intention to remediate the failures in his practice," said the Panel. "In the absence of any evidence that the Registrant had taken any steps to remediate the failures previously identified in his practice, the Panel today concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired."

In the Panel’s judgment, no purpose would be served by imposing a further Suspension Order because Mr Towner had stated that he had no intention of remediating his practice or of returning to practise as an Occupational Therapist.
In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the only appropriate sanction to impose at the expiry of the current Suspension Order was a Striking Off Order.

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