|[Home] [Databases] [World Law] [Multidatabase Search] [Help] [Feedback]|
England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions >> Redmond v Health and Care Professions Council  EWHC 2490 (Admin) (12 October 2016)
Cite as:  EWHC 2490 (Admin)
[New search] [Printable RTF version] [Help]
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Bull St Birmingham B4 6DS
B e f o r e :
| Janet Redmond
|- and -
|Health and Care Professions Council
Peter Mant instructed by Bircham Dyson Bell LLP for the Respondent
Hearing date: 6 September 2016
Crown Copyright ©
HHJ David Cooke :
"58. … The Registrant [i.e. Ms Redmond] had the knowledge, experience and skill necessary in order to manage an average caseload and her time effectively. The Registrant knew the importance of her public protection work. The Registrant failed to manage her time effectively and failed to undertake key parts of her role through choice rather than through shortcomings in her knowledge or skill… The Registrant's philosophy of intervention and quality being prioritised over the timeliness of assessments and the effective management of her practice was unacceptable. The Panel found the Registrant was not willing to change this philosophy despite it being demonstrated to her that assessments needed to be prioritised when there were restricted timescales imposed by National Standards. The need to prioritise assessments [was] specifically highlighted for the Registrant. Despite this she chose not to do so, resulting in significant delays in the completion of assessments. The Panel felt that the Registrant did not implement the training that she had been given on techniques on how to effectively manage her time and practice. She did not use supervision effectively and did not manage her practice properly.
59. Despite an unremarkable caseload and lengthy capability procedures, there was no sustained improvement. The Registrant chose to revert back to not prioritising the assessments that she was required to undertake. It was clear that the Registrant did not at the time reflect on her failings but chose to continue to work in her own entrenched way without taking account of the need to evolve her practice. Therefore the failures to bring about any change were deliberate "
"47 How is this submission to be approached? First, as a matter of general law, it is very well established that findings of primary fact, particularly if founded upon an assessment of the credibility of witnesses, are virtually unassailable (see Benmax v Austin Motor Co Ltd  AC 370); more recently, the test has been put that an appellant must establish that the fact-finder was plainly wrong (per Stuart-Smith LJ in National Justice Cia Naviera SA v Prudential Assurance Co Ltd (The Ikarian Reefer)  1 Lloyd's Rep 455 at 458). Further, the court should only reverse a finding on the facts if it "can be shown that the findings … were sufficiently out of tune with the evidence to indicate with reasonable certainty that the evidence had been misread" (per Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone LC in Libman v General Medical Council  AC 217 at 221F more recently confirmed in R(Campbell) v General Medical Council  1 WLR 3488 at  per Judge LJ). Finally, in Gupta v General Medical Council  1 WLR 1691, Lord Rodger put the matter in this way (at  page 1697D):
"In all such cases the appeal court readily acknowledges that the first instance body enjoys an advantage which the appeal court does not have, precisely because that body is in a better position to judge the credibility and reliability of the evidence given by the witnesses. In some appeals that advantage may not be significant since the witnesses' credibility and reliability are not in issue. But in many cases the advantage is very significant and the appeal court recognises that it should accordingly be slow to interfere with the decisions on matters of fact taken by the first instance body. This reluctance to interfere is not due to any lack of jurisdiction to do so. Rather, in exercising its full jurisdiction, the appeal court acknowledges that, if the first instance body has observed the witnesses and weighed their evidence, its decision on such matters is more likely to be correct than any decision of a court which cannot deploy those factors when assessing the position. ." "
"19. ….the fact that a principal purpose of the panel's jurisdiction in relation to sanctions is the preservation and maintenance of public confidence in the profession rather than the administration of retributive justice, particular force is given to the need to accord special respect to the judgment of the professional decision-making body in the shape of the panel. That I think is reflected in the last citation I need give. It consists in Lord Millett's observations in Ghosh v General Medical Council  1 WLR 1915, 1923, para 34:
"the Board will afford an appropriate measure of respect to the judgment of the committee whether the practitioner's failings amount to serious professional misconduct and on the measures necessary to maintain professional standards and provide adequate protection to the public. But the Board will not defer to the committee's judgment more than is warranted by the circumstances."
20. These strands in the learning then, as it seems to me, constitute the essential approach to be applied by the High Court on a section 40 appeal. The approach they commend does not emasculate the High Court's role in section 40 appeals: the High Court will correct material errors of fact and of course of law and it will exercise a judgment, though distinctly and firmly a secondary judgment, as to the application of the principles to the facts of the case"
The grounds of appeal
Ground 1(a): The allegations and amendments to them
i) That Ms Redmond had not completed assessments in a timely manner and/or maintained adequate documentation in respect of 17 service users, each identified by a number. The Panel found that this allegation proved in respect of 13 service users, but not proved in respect of the other four.
ii) That Ms Redmond had failed to file an intensive supervision and surveillance assessment in respect of service user 5 in preparation for a court hearing in November 2011. The Panel found this proved.
iii) That Ms Redmond was unable to practise autonomously in that she did not manage her caseload without the frequent intervention of managers. The Panel found this proved.
There was no objection made to these changes, which in my view clearly had the desirable effect of focusing the allegations that Ms Redmond had to meet.
Challenges to conclusions on the evidence
i) Ground 1(b): Allegation 2 was accepted as proved although it had been described as "not fully tested"
ii) Ground 2(a): The decision was unjust because it was "contrary to the evidence provided by the respondent's two witnesses, particularly allegations 1 and 2", and
iii) Ground 2 (b): "Further evidence is available to reinforce evidence already provided by the appellant". In fact, no such further evidence was referred to at the hearing, and no application was made to rely on further evidence.
"The Panel found that the Registrant was responsible for collating and submitting the report. The Registrant was entitled to rely on support and input from specialist teams… The Registrant appeared to suggest that there were two reports but the Panel preferred SN's evidence that there was one report with input from others. SN was clear that she had made a direct request to the Registrant for an addendum report. The Registrant did not accept that she was responsible for the late filing of the report as she needed the managers of both teams to agree a recommendation before she could proceed. However this was inconsistent with the evidence that the Registrant was able to prepare a significant part of the report, which she then lost, within 30 minutes on the day of the hearing. The panel preferred SN's account which was fully tested in live evidence on these points. SN was an eyewitness to the events as she was in court on the day. She was the Registrant's manager and had a detailed understanding of the situation. The Registrant's account was not fully put to SN and was therefore partially untested. "
Ground 2(c): The sanction was disproportionate
i) no harm had been caused by her practice:
ii) it had taken three years for the complaints against her to lead to a conclusion, in which time she said there had been no issues relating to her practice raised in her subsequent work; and
iii) an alternative sanction was likely to be more effective. Suspension prevented her implementing any continuing professional development.
"She self reported good practice for four out of the six short term contracts since her employment at the Local Authority including one in which she was meeting deadlines in a highly pressurised environment completing Initial Assessments. However, there was no independent evidence of this."
"73. In the panel's view the Registrant lacks full insight into her failings, has declined to take full responsibility and has not taken sufficient remedial action. It is clear to the Panel that the underlying reason for the misconduct is not easily irremediable and certainly has not been adequately remedied.
74. … The Panel is of the view that there remains a risk of repetition as it cannot be satisfied that the Registrant will practise safely and effectively in the future. The risk of harm to young offenders and the public is high when risks are not assessed, mitigated or managed in a timely fashion.
75. Therefore the Panel is satisfied that the Registrant's fitness to practise is still impaired...
77. The Registrant has damaged public confidence in her. Members of the public and colleagues would find it difficult to place confidence in her with the completion of important assessments when such serious misconduct has been established and has not been remedied.
78. … Late filing of reports at court undermines public confidence in the Social Work profession… Through a finding of current impairment, the Panel seeks to restore confidence in the profession and to declare that the misconduct in this case is unacceptable. "