Year of Call: 1991 Inn of Court: Middle Temple
Dr Mary-Teresa Deignan
‘Methodical and unwavering, with great attention to detail’ – Professional Discipline and Regulatory Law – Leading Juniors (Legal 500 – 2020) ‘Courteous, fair and very tough – always well prepared, presenting or defending’ – Professional Discipline and Regulatory Law – Leading Juniors (Legal 500 – 2018) ‘Her arguments are succinct and pithy’ – Professional Discipline and Regulatory Law – Leading Juniors (Legal 500 – 2017) Mary – Teresa specialises in professional discipline and health and safety with a particular focus on the medical sector, where clients value her combination of incisive case analysis, clear presentation, toughness and suburb client skills. Mary – Teresa has acquired substantial experience during the COVID19 crisis in hearings using remote platforms including contested final hearings at the MPTS and First Tier Tribunal (Social Care). Most recent instructions include representing medical practitioners at the MPTS in matters involving complex multi patient and multi site allegations and allegations of dishonesty. Mary – Teresa is regularly involved some of the highest profile, complex and sensitive cases on the instructions of defence organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives, and regulatory bodies, including the General Dental Council, the Care Quality Commission and the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Recent examples include representing the Director of Operations and Executive Nurse at Liverpool Community NHS Health Trust, the Service Manager in the Southern Health /Connor Sparrowhawk case, a midwife in the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust ‘Baby K’ case and Operation Jasmine cases arising from the police investigation into care homes. Mary – Teresa also undertakes direct access work. Mary – Teresa is a Legal Advisor to the General Pharmaceutical Council. Mary – Teresa has a scientific background, with a Ph.D from the Queen’s University of Belfast in plant research. After retraining she was called to the bar in 1991 winning a number of prestigious awards, including Middle Temple’s Benefactor’s Law Scolarship and the Lady Margaret Templeman award. Charter Chambers and its members are regulated by the Bar Standards Board.
General Medical Council v Dr Kumar 
Representing an orthopaedic surgeon charged with dishonestly failing to disclose, in response to an express question on an application form, that he was being investigated by the GMC for sexually motivated conduct towards a patient, an investigation which was subsequently the subject of findings and for which he was suspended for 12 months. A combined hearing took place remotely over three non consecutive days via Skype for business of the review of the suspension order and the substantive hearing of the dishonesty charges. The dishonesty charges were admitted. The MPTS found misconduct but that the doctor showed significant insight into his dishonest conduct and found impairment solely on the ground of public interest and imposed a suspension order for two months with no review.
AZJ Healthcare Services Limited v Care Quality Commission  Successfully resisted an appeal on the instruction of the CQC against a decision of the CQC to cancel the registration of a provider of healthcare services. The hearing involved five witnesses and took place remotely via Kinley over three days. The First Tier Tribunal found breaches of regulations 12(1) (safe care and treatment) and 17(1) (good governance) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and regulations 12(1), (2) and (3) (statement of purpose) of CQC (Registration) Regulations 2009.
NMC v Helen Lockett [2019 – 2020]
Represented Helen Lockett, former Director of Operations and Executive Nurse at Liverpool Community NHS Trust, over 94 days. Allegations of misconduct, including concealing concerns, bullying and the downgrading of risks, arose in the context of upheaval in the NHS including unprecedented cutbacks in funding in the NHS, increased demand for health care services in the community and national issues in the recruitment and retention of district nurses. This highly complex case has highlighted unique funding difficulties faced by Community Trusts, the complexities of governance structures, tensions between Community and Acute Trusts and questions around the accountability of individual members of NHS staff, commissioners and ‘arms of government’ in the context of government policy. Ms Lockett was made the subject of a suspension order for twelve months with a review, a decision that has created significant political controversy.
NMC v Kerry Davies and two others 
Representing midwife Kerry Davies in the widely reported ‘Baby K’ case which arose in a midwife-led maternity unit at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. Ms Davies was alleged to have failed to check the heart rate of the unborn baby at a particular time and by that to have caused it a loss of chance of survival. After cross examining the NMC’s experts, a Consultant Obstetrician, a Lead Neonatologist and a midwife, the panel found the umbilical cord had become occluded approximately twenty minutes before the birth of the baby – a time after the mother had left the care of Ms Davies – so that her conduct had not contributed to its death.
NMC v Emma Short and five others 
Representing Emma Short, the Service Manager for an Inpatient Unit for people with learning disabilities where, in 2013, Connor Sparrowhawk had an epileptic fit in the bath a died. After an inquest in 2015 found that his death was partly due to neglect, Mrs Short faced grave charges, including contributing to or causing the death of the young man. However, following the demonstration of systemic institutional failings during a forty-five day hearing, no charges were found proved.
NMC v Joanne Barnett and two others 
Acting for Joanne Barnett, the former manager of a residential home, on the instructions of the RCN, following the death of a resident who hadn’t received crucial medication. Mrs Barnett admitted failing to adhere to standard operating procedures for the re-ordering of medication. However, Mary – Teresa was able to demonstrate that, in the year since the incident, her client had put in place a series of changes to procedures that the panel – ruling that her practice was not impaired – described as ‘exemplary’.
GDC v Julie Elston and Kimberley Craig 
Instructed by the GDC in a complex dispute that concerned significant irregularities in record keeping by a dentist in sole practice and a Registered Dental Care Professional she had employed. An NHS England review identified significant issues, including allegations that Ms Elston had signed blank prescription forms and had prescribed an antibiotic for herself. The fifteen day hearing raised challenging issues of evidence. All but one of the charges against Ms Elston were proved and she was suspended for six months with a review whilst Ms Craig was reprimanded.
Inquest into the death of Jane Ellis 
Instructed by the RCN on behalf of a registered nurse who was a member of the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team in a high profile inquest into the death of Jane Ellis, a woman with mental health issues, following a fire at her flat. Mary – Teresa’s client took a number of calls in which concerns were expressed about Ms Ellis’ mental health, including that she was lighting candles. The Coroner accepted the nurse had disused these concerns with senior colleagues and that a further visit at the time would have been unlikely to have changed the course of events.
NMC v Susan Reynolds and Heather Hayward; NMC v Christine Ann Hayes; NMC v Rachel Pritchard, Daphne Richards, Susan Greening, Tembakasi Moyana, Rachel Tanta and Beverley Mock [2015 – 2015]
These three separate high profile sets of proceedings, in which Mary – Teresa was instructed by the NMC, followed from ‘Operation Jasmine’, the police investigation into abuse and neglect leading to a number of deaths, many as a result of pressure sores, at care homes in Gwent. As Director of Nursing for Caerphilly Local Health Board, Ms Hayes was ultimately responsible for the provision of funded nursing care; she was struck off after a panel found she had failed to appreciate the impact of breaches of contract and other factors on the provision of nursing care. Susan Reynolds and Heather Hayward were the Manager and Assistant Manager of Grosvenor nursing home and were struck off. The other registrants worked at Brithdir nursing home in different capacities and, with one exception, were either cautioned, suspended or struck off.
NMC v Professor Sir George Castledine 
Instructed by the NMC in these widely-reported proceedings. Whilst working at the Institute of Ageing and Health in the West Midlands the registrant was asked by members of her family to provide bereavement counselling to a recently widowed woman in her eighties. The registrant was found to have acted in both a sexually motivated way and a financially motivated way and was struck off.
- Legal Assessor to the General Pharmaceutical Council
- Panel B Regulatory Advocate in Health and Safety and Environmental Law
- Lady Margaret Templeman scholarship, Middle Temple
- Benefactors Law scholarship, Middle Temple
- Butterworths prize, Queen’s University of Belfast
- Certificate of Academic Legal Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast
- Ph.D Queen’s University Belfast
- B.Sc. University of Aston in Birmingham
- Pupil Supervisor
- Member Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers
- Member Health And Safety Lawyers Association
- Member South Eastern Circuit
Areas of Specialism
Professional Discipline & Regulatory Law and Health & Safety
Mary – Teresa specialises in Professional Discipline at hearings and inquests and in health and safety law.
As an advocate she has acted for and/or against the General Medical Council, The General Dental Council, the General Chiropractic Council, the Health and Care Professions Council, the Care Quality Commission, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.
In addition, Mary – Teresa has been instructed by the Health and Care Professions Council as a Special Advocate to cross examine witnesses making allegations of sexual misconduct against health care professionals.
Mary – Teresa provides early advice when either prosecuting or defending. By this, cases can be identified at an early stage that can be concluded without a fully contested hearing by either no case to answer, consensual panel determination or agreed facts with impairment and sanction to be determined. For those cases that proceed to a contested hearing Mary – Teresa works collaboratively with the team instructing her and provides ongoing case management support and advice.
Mary – Teresa is a Legal Advisor to the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Mary – Teresa provides lectures and training to the General Dental Council and the Royal College of Nursing and is a regular contributor to Charter Chambers’ lectures/updates and webinars.