LONDON, November 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
At a tribunal hearing of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), distinguished clinical psychologist Ms Gillian Levett was today ruled to have been guilty of misconduct relating to the support she had provided to a young woman ("Mrs A") who had sought her help at a time of crisis. The panel ruled that the degree of support that Ms Levett had provided represented an "inappropriate relationship" and that she had failed to "maintain appropriate boundaries". Ms Levett had accepted that the degree of assistance that she had provided would exceed appropriate thresholds in a patient / psychologist relationship, but had strongly disputed that Ms A was her patient or had ever received therapy or care from her. The British Psychological Society (BPS) had earlier supported Ms Levett's position in their own findings, which ruled that Miss A was not Ms Levett's patient, and that her support for Ms A in a time of acute personal crisis had not been inappropriate.
Ms Levett was also accused of providing employment for, and socialising with, a former patient. Although the rules governing her professional practice nowhere forbid, nor even discourage, psychologists from providing this kind of support to former patients, the HCPC ruled that by doing so Ms Levett was guilty of conducting an inappropriate relationship.
The Tribunal ruled that Ms Levett will be struck off the professional register. Under normal circumstances, she would be able to continue practising for 28 days, pending appeal. However, the HCPC has decided that she will instead be struck off immediately, potentially leaving her patients without access to treatment.
Spokesman for Ms Levett, Terence Fane-Saunders, Chairman of PR consultancy Chelgate said: "This was an appalling and unjust decision by the panel. It was shot through with errors of fact and errors of assumption. It is a great pity that when the Government agreed not to put the talking therapies under the regulation of the HCPC, after a passionate campaign by those professions, this exclusion was not extended to the Psychology profession. This was poor work by the HCPC and Ms Levett will be appealing this finding before the High Court".
Mr Fane-Saunders said that the case hinged around arguments as to whether "Miss A" was a patient of Ms Levett's at the time when Ms Levett and others came to her aid in an attempt to resolve a number of acute issues which they believed posed a real threat to Miss A's safety and well-being.
Ms Levett had readily acknowledged that the level of help and intervention she had offered would have exceeded the recommended boundaries for a patient/ psychologist relationship, if Ms A had been her patient. However, Ms Levett's professional relationship with Miss A had been restricted to two assessments, conducted and completed more than a year before the events described in the hearing. Ms Levett had never provided therapy or treatment to Miss A. From the time when Miss arrived out of the blue at Miss A's office in 2007, she was never under her clinical care. Miss A was not Ms Levett's patient, she had no professional relationship with her and this was a view officially expressed by Ms Levett's professional body, the British Psychological Society.
"If this young woman, who had turned up on her office doorstep homeless, frightened and drenched from the rain had been Ms Levett's patient, she would have taken a step back, recognising professional boundaries. But she was not. And what Ms Levett and her friends did in immediately coming to her aid, and continuing to support her through a number of crises, would in the minds of most decent people, be considered as good, generous, caring, responsible and kind. But in this case, almost every good and decent act by Ms Levett and her friends has been warped into a sinister and false interpretation".
Mr Fane-Saunders added that the Tribunal's view that Miss A had been Ms Levett's patient during the period in question rested to a great extent on Miss A's testimony that she had been receiving regular therapy sessions from Ms Levett. "There was strong factual evidence to indicate that this was not the case, and strong witness evidence too. The Tribunal chose to ignore or discount this, and that will be one of the failures in the process which will be put before the High Court."
Mr Fane-Saunders said that at times, the behaviour of the Tribunal had been "Kafkaesque". "Incredibly, Ms Levett had also being accused of maintaining "improper relationships" with other former patients. The grounds of these accusations were that Ms Levett had found an opportunity to provide a small amount of paid employment for these people, after they had ceased to be patients of hers. People with mental and psychological problems often find it difficult to find employment. Here again, what Ms Levett did was kindly, responsible and caring. Even more important, there is no rule or code which was being broken by helping these people. The HCPC are essentially charging Ms Levett with an offence that does not exist. And that is Kafkaesque."
Mr Fane-Saunders said that Ms Levett's greatest concern was now for the patients and professional colleagues who were depending on her services. The actions and decisions of the Tribunal, he said, had caused great and unnecessary worry to these people, some of whom were in a vulnerable and sensitive state.
NOTE TO EDITORS: An online PressRoom with further background and free-to-use images is available at http://www.gillianlevetthearing.info.
Issued by Chelgate Ltd
On behalf of Ms Gillian Levett
SOURCE Chelgate Ltd