OT struck off for 'bullying and discriminatory' behaviour

HCPTS Panel strikes occupational therapist from register following inappropriate comments to colleagues

Published on 22nd March 2019

An occupational therapist who displayed "bullying and discriminatory behaviour" towards her colleagues has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register.

A Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service Panel said they had no doubt that fellow occupational therapists and the general public would find Mrs Josephine Brady’s behaviour "deplorable" after she was found guilty of behaving inappropriately to colleagues including referring to Colleague A as a ‘bitch faced troll’, or words to that effect.

"The Panel was satisfied that Mrs Brady’s actions in relation to the facts found proved fall significantly short of what would have been proper in the circumstances.  She was employed as a senior Occupational Therapist and therefore held a position of trust with a responsibility to set an example of good behaviour.  The Panel has found that Mrs Brady behaved towards her team members in a totally inappropriate manner, exhibiting behaviour that was bullying, victimising and discriminatory," said the Panel.

Mrs Brady was employed by the Heart of England Foundation Trust, now known as University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust as an occupational therapist with the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Communication Team (REACT) at Heartlands Hospital.  She was employed as a Band 7 practitioner and assumed the role of a Band 8 Team Leader between February 2015 and March 2016 to cover a colleague’s maternity leave.  During this time she managed approximately 18 staff members.

While in this role, Mrs Brady was found guilty by the Panel of behaving inappropriately towards her colleagues in a number of incidents.

- On or around April 2015, she stated that you wanted to ‘Punch Colleague B in the face’ or words to that effect.

- On 14 August 2015,  she sent text messages to Colleague C which read:

i.‘F*** you and all that ride on the back of me’ or words to that effect;

ii.‘You can’t be like this to me I’m your CTL’ (Clinical Team Leader) or words to that effect;

iii.‘If you want to look for another job, I won’t stop you’ or words to that effect.

- Mrs Brady stated for her colleagues to “Look at their names – not even English’ or words to that effect, referring to job applicants;

With regards to Colleague E, Mrs Brady made a number of disparaging comments including:

‘I’m sick of looking at your face in the office with pain. You only stopped going to physio because you aren’t comfortable taking your clothes off’, or words to that effect;

‘If you were blonde and a Size 10, you wouldn’t have a problem with doing it (a project)’ or words to that effect;

Referred to Colleague E as a ‘heart attack waiting to happen’ or words to that effect;

Offered chocolates around the office but asked Colleague E ‘are you sure you want to have one?’, or words to that effect;

On or around 27 March 2015, she told Colleague E: ‘I could click a button and make you permanent but something is holding me back, I’m just not sure about you, I don’t know enough about your background.” or words to that effect.

On or around November 2014, she asked Colleague E ‘How do you know you are
gay?’ ‘Have you slept with a man?’ and commented ‘You don’t fit the stereotype’, or words to that effect.

Mrs Brady also breached confidentiality by discussing Colleague E’s hospital appointment and/or medical condition with Colleague E in front of members of staff in an open office on or around January 2016. She discussed colleague F’s medical condition with members of staff on 27 January 2016 and openly discussed a complaint that Colleague A had previously made about her with members of staff.

Mrs Brady also sent texts to Colleague E and Colleague C requesting medical information about a friend of hers, Patient A although she had no clinical involvement with his case. When Colleague C responded: “Hi Jo sorry to hear that! That’s awful. Cant really check as its against trust policy’s.  will they not give any info to family?”, Mrs Brady replied: “Thank you for reinding (sic) me of trust policy.  Just thought as mates.  But now its clear.”

The Panel found mitigating factors in the case as Mrs Brady has not appeared before the HCPC before and there is evidence that her clinical practice as an occupational therapist is good. However, they highlighted that Mrs Brady had engaged in a sustained pattern of inappropriate behaviour over a prolonged period of time, her misconduct had a serious impact on her colleagues, Mrs Brady abused her position of authority and trust, her behaviour was motivated by discrimination, bullying, and homophobia and there is no evidence of insight and she had not apologised or expressed remorse for her actions.

"The Panel finds that Mrs Brady has displayed deep seated attitudinal issues that are fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the Register.  Her treatment of colleagues and those placed in her charge has been appalling, causing them significant emotional harm.  Mrs Brady has shown no meaningful insight and during the investigation process gave every impression of considering that she had behaved appropriately," said the Panel.  

"A Striking Off Order is the only sanction that is proportionate to her failings and which reflects the seriousness of the findings of fact.  Moreover, any lesser sanction would not be sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession or to send a clear message to the profession at large about the unacceptability of Mrs Brady’s conduct," the Panel concluded.

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