Locum OT has suspension extended

HCPC panel extends locum OT's suspension for further six months

Published on 3rd May 2019

A locum occupational therapist who crossed professional boundaries with a service user remains suspended from ther Health and Care Professions Council following a review of his suspension.

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

It was alleged that Mr Perrett:

- Offered 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, he 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, he invited Service User A to go to a café with him.

Service user A complained about Mr Perrett's behaviour to the council in August 2016. The following month, the council referred the matter to the HCPC.

The facts were found to be proven at the final hearing in January 2018. The HCPC had alleged that Mr Perrett's conduct was sexually motivated, but that was found not proved.

The panel decided to suspend Mr Perrett for nine months and encouraged him to attend a future review hearing. They also made recommendations for which Mr Perrett could do to assist a future review hearing.

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 Panel recognised that Mr Perrett's reflections recorded in the document were 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.

At that review hearing he was suspended for a further six months.

At a second review in April, Mr Perrett attended the hearing, gave evidence before the Panel and provided a further reflective piece, which he had provided to the HCPC on the 26 April 2019.

Mr Perrett accepted the previous Panel’s findings in respect of his conduct, stating that he suffered with “severe embarrassment and horror” in respect of his actions. When further questioned by the HCPC and the Panel, regarding the Substantive Hearing panel’s findings, he also stated that at the time of the incident and findings he “hadn’t fully grasped the situation fully” and that it was “completely all my fault”.

In response to questions regarding remediation and what steps he had taken since the last hearing, Mr Perrett informed the Panel that he had changed his living accommodation; was meeting with an informal supervisor on a fortnightly basis; and was in the last few weeks starting “to feel like myself again”.

The Panel found him to be candid and genuine when giving his evidence and also found his responses to questions were honest. Whilst the Panel recognised that the regulatory process had been a salutary one for Mr Perrett, and commended him for engaging and attending the hearing, the Panel was not satisfied that he had demonstrated full insight into his misconduct.

The Panel was not convinced by his explanation and understanding of appropriate professional boundaries and was not satisfied that should he find himself in another difficult or stressful situation again, that he had learned from his mistakes.

His reflective piece made some concessions, but did not fully address how his conduct had impacted the Service User. However, the Panel was of the view that Mr Perrett's oral evidence demonstrated more understanding and acceptance of the impact on the Service User.

The Panel considered that they could not yet be confident that the Registrant has the required insight and that he has remediated his failings and therefore could not be confident that the behaviour would not be repeated.

The Panel therefore decided to extend the current Suspension Order by six months to allow Mr Perrett time to reflect further and to demonstrate insight into his misconduct.

A review panel may be assisted by a written reflective piece focussing on the decision of the Panel and the impact of his actions on others and the wider profession, written evidence that he has kept his skills and knowledge up to date such as any continuing professional development courses undertaken, written evidence of any reading or reflection regarding professional boundaries and what impact not maintaining professional boundaries may have on service users and written evidence concerning any formal or informal discussions that he may have had with an informal supervisor.

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