Public Statement – Ms Alex Caitlin Draper – Alcohol and Drug Clinician / Therapist – Permanent Prohibition Order

7 March 2022

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (the Commission) conducted an investigation into the conduct of Ms Alex Caitlin Draper, an unregistered health practitioner who provided services as an Alcohol and Drug Clinician or therapist at Facility 1 in northern NSW, between 24 June 2019 and 17 January 2020.

Complaints received by the Commission alleged that Ms Draper had engaged in unprofessional conduct by engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a patient at Facility 1 in between August and November 2019.            

The investigation found that Ms Draper commenced and maintained an inappropriate close personal and sexual relationship with Patient A.

The Commission finds that Ms Draper breached clause 13(1) of the Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners (made under the Public Health Regulation 2012, Schedule 3) (Code of Conduct), which prohibits the commencement of a sexual or close personal relationship with a client.

The Commission found that Patient A was highly vulnerable at the time of his stay at Facility 1, and at the commencement of his close personal and sexual relationship with Ms Draper, was suffering significant mental health issues and a history of drug-abuse.    

The investigation found that Ms Draper was aware at the time she commenced her inappropriate relationship with Patient A that her conduct was improper and unethical. Despite this, Ms Draper maintained the relationship for the duration of Patient A’s stay at Facility 1 and continued to provide health services to him up to May 2020.

The investigation found that Ms Draper violated her position of trust and power as an Alcohol and Drug Clinician or therapist, and took advantage of Patient A, a highly vulnerable individual, for the primary purpose of commencing a close personal and intimate relationship with him.

Ms Draper subsequently referred Patient A to Facility 2 (a mental health organisation and drug and alcohol rehab in northern NSW) on 2 December 2019 when he was no longer a patient at Facility 1.

After leaving Facility 1 Ms Draper obtained employment at Facility 2. The referral of Patient A by Ms Draper to a facility where she soon started working as a therapist, demonstrates a complete lack of accountability or insight, and a failure to deliver health services in a safe and ethical manner.

The investigation found Ms Draper placed her own needs and desires above those of her client and as a result, significant harm was caused to Patient A, resulting in further deterioration of his mental health.

Despite Ms Draper’s admissions of inappropriate behaviour and her significant remorse, the investigation found that Ms Draper lacked insight into the seriousness of her conduct, as evidenced by her failure to meaningfully recognise the significant vulnerabilities of Patient A and the inherent power difference between herself as a practitioner and her client. 

The investigation found that Ms Draper was not forthcoming to her employers about the nature of her relationships with Patient A. Ms Draper deliberately misled Facility 2 about Patient A and told them that he was stalking and harassing her, only disclosing the whole truth to them after being notified of the complaints.

Ms Draper was also not fully forthcoming with the Commission, again providing only partial information about her conduct.

The investigation found this was an attempt by Ms Draper to minimise the seriousness of her conduct and avoid any repercussions. 

For these reasons the Commission finds that Ms Draper breached clause 3(1) of the Code of Conduct as she failed to provide health services in a proper and ethical manner.

The Commission further finds that Ms Draper breached Clause 15 of the Code of Conduct by failing to adequately document her therapy sessions with Patient A between July and November 2019.

The investigation found that Ms Draper’s conduct constitutes an extremely serious breach of trust and has damaged her profession’s integrity and good standing.

The Commission considers that Ms Draper poses a risk to public health or safety due to the seriousness of her boundary transgressions and her limited insight.

The Commission therefore makes the following prohibition order:

On 7 March 2022 the Commission made the following prohibition order under section 41A(2) of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993:

MsAlex Draper is prohibited, under any circumstances, to provide, or cause to be provided, any health services, either in paid employment or voluntarily, to any member of the public for a minimum period of 3 years.

For the purpose of this order, ‘health service’ is given the meaning as defined under section 4 of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993.

The order will remain in place from the date the order is made, and, following that time, Ms Draper may apply to the Commission for a review of the prohibition order.

The order will remain in place until Ms Draper satisfies the Commission that she has:

  1. Demonstrated that she acknowledges and understands the risks posed to vulnerable patients if boundaries are violated by their health care professionals; and
  2. Completed an appropriate training course(s) in client and professional conduct, boundary setting, and ethics.

Further Information

Access the Commission’s Statement of Decision here

Access to the Commission's media release here.

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au

 


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