Panel suspends Norfolk speech therapist

A speech and language therapist has been suspended from a professional register for failing to maintain accurate case records.

Speech and language therapist Angela Parker has been suspended from the Health Professions Council (HPC) register for failing to manage her caseload effectively and making poor clinical decisions while working for the Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust (NCH&C).

The HPC panel presiding over a fitness to practise hearing was told the therapist's manager had issued guidance to staff on a new standardised system for record-keeping. After inspecting this system, management found that Mrs Parker had a bigger caseload than expected, which led to a full investigation into her work.

The panel heard that following a fuller investigation the trust discovered significant failings in Mrs Parker's record-keeping and clinical decision-making.

In particular, her engagement with families and partners of patients was inadequate, Mrs Parker failed to record patients' therapy plans and to record patient follow-up plans in accordance with trust guidelines.

Panel chairman Collin Allies said: 'Due in part to the fact that Mrs Parker did not return to work after the trust disciplinary hearing and then resigned, the failings identified in her practice could not be addressed. There is therefore a negative subsisting impact on Mrs Parker's HPC registration.

'Mrs Parker has not given any evidence of steps taken by her to address these competence issues since they were identified in 2010. The failings in Mrs Parker's practice pose a potential risk of harm to patients. The panel is satisfied that the issues giving rise to the risk identified have not been addressed. In the judgment of this panel, the allegation that Mrs Parker's fitness to practise is currently impaired is well founded.'

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Mrs Parker, who did not attend the hearing, was suspended from the register for one year.

Alan Hunter, of NCH&C, said the trust had acted quickly in the interests of patients, as it would with with any concerns about clinical practice. He said: 'No patients were harmed and no patients were at risk at any point. There were no concerns over confidential notes being disclosed.'