The president of the High Court has struck off a radiographer after being satisfied she is "a danger to the public" due to her "substandard" knowledge of the basics of radiography.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the case of Kashimbo Musonda, who worked for a short period in 2017 at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) before she was let go, once again underlined his concerns about the procedures for recruiting professionals to work in hospitals here.
The court heard Ms Musonda was registered to practise here in 2016 on foot of a 2006 letter from the Department of Health recognising her diploma in diagnostic radiography secured in 2005 in Zambia.
She was later recruited through the HSE’s national recruitment service to work at UHW.
The judge said there “must be questions” about how recruitment policy and procedures could give rise to the employment of someone “so lacking in basic skills” as to be let go within two and a half weeks of her employment at the hospital.
He previously raised concerns about the recruitment of certain junior hospital doctors who lacked knowledge of the very basics of anatomy and procedures, he noted.
The judge also remarked the procedure for dealing with allegations of misconduct and poor professional performance under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 is “entirely cumbersome” involving three hearings before three different bodies at huge costs before any application to the High Court.
“It is legislation that badly needs to be revisited and streamlined,” he said.
He made the comments when granting an application by JP McDowell, solicitor for the Health and Social Professionals Council (HSPC), for orders confirming the council’s direction that Ms Musonda be struck off the council’s register of radiographers entitled to practise here.
He confirmed an additional direction preventing Ms Musonda seeking to re-register for a period of 18 months and also ordered the relevant authorities in Zambia and Botswana, where she previously worked, be notified of the court's order.
Ms Musonda, with an address at Knapps Square, John Redmond Quay, Carrolls Quay, Cork, had previously worked in radiology departments in hospitals in Zambia and Botswana.
She had worked here for a time as a sonographer providing ultrasound services with a private firm, Affidea Diagnostics Ireland, before securing employment as a basic grade radiographer at UHW in February 2017 under a six month contract.
The court was told concerns were raised within days about her practice but she was permitted continue working for a short time more under supervision before she was let go after two and a half weeks.
Complaints were made by UHW to the HSPC and those were investigated by the Council’s Professional Conduct Committee in September and November 2018.
The committee found certain allegations amounted to poor professional performance and professional misconduct.
These included poor understanding of radiation protection practice and lack of competence in radiographic positioning, projection and imaging.
It also found she had placed the health and safety of the mother of a child patient at risk by exposing the mother to unnecessary radiation while taking images of the child and had failed to show any, or any adequate understanding, of the potential harm to the mother from such exposure.
The committee was satisfied Ms Musonda lacked appreciation of the danger and potential danger posed by her clinical deficiencies, absence of safe techniques and failure to follow minimum guidelines and that she posed a danger to the public because of that lack of appreciation.
It concluded, in order to protect the public, the only effective and proportionate sanction was to ensure Ms Musonda’s registration was cancelled.
The Council agreed and sought the necessary confirmation from the High Court.
Ms Musonda had denied the allegations against her when she attended three of the six days of the inquiry into the complaints. The other hospitals in Zambia and Botswana where she had worked had given her good or very good marks, it was noted.
She alleged the allegations were fabricated by UHW staff as part of a conspiracy motivated by racism. The committee found no evidence of any such conspiracy.
After she did not appeal the findings, the council sought confirmation of the strike off sanction from the court.