Francesca Snape

Associate Solicitor

Biography

Francesca is an associate solicitor in the regulatory department specialising in health and social care regulation and professional discipline.

Ofsted & CQC regulation

Francesca represents registered providers and managers facing enforcement action by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). In particular, Francesca provides advice on compliance; challenging inspections, enforcement action and appeals to the First-tier Tribunal (Care Standards Chamber).

Francesca assists in factual accuracy challenges and complaints against inspection reports and grading’s. Francesca also assists in preparing representations in response to notices to cancel or refuse registration. Francesca assists in appealing decisions to cancel, suspend, or impose conditions on registration, including decisions restricting accommodation, to the First-tier Tribunal.

Francesca also represents registered providers and managers facing enforcement action by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Francesca provides advice on compliance; challenging inspections; enforcement action; and, appeals to the first-tier tribunal (Care Standards Chamber).

Professional discipline

Francesca represents and advises a wide range of professionals across a number of sectors before their professional regulators. Francesca acts for professionals in the healthcare, education and counselling and psychotherapy sectors. Francesca assists professionals facing fitness to practise proceedings, from the initial referral and investigation stages, interim order hearings, through to final fitness to practise panel hearings and appeals against decisions of regulators. Francesca also assists with registration proceedings and appeals.

Francesca has assisted professionals with cases before:

  • General Medical Council
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council
  • General Dental Council
  • Teaching Regulation Agency
  • Disclosure and Barring Service
  • British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy
  • Association of Child Psychotherapists
  • General Pharmaceutical Council
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Francesca is a member of the Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers (ARDL). Francesca is also a contributing author to two LexisNexis practice notes.

Case studies

First-tier tribunal appeals

Children’s home appeal

Francesca represented a children’s home that had been issued with a notice of cancellation of registration by Ofsted. Francesca was instructed after the owner of the home had lodged their appeal to the first-tier tribunal. The reasons for the cancellation were wide-ranging, including a long history of concerns regarding the home’s compliance with regulations, their management of children’s behaviour, record keeping and concerns about the honesty and integrity of the owner and responsible individual at the home.

Francesca dealt with the initial stages of the appeal and prepared witness statements and evidence in response to the concerns, which was substantial. Upon receiving and considering our evidence, Ofsted approached us to advise they were no longer opposing the appeal and the appeal was therefore allowed. This meant that the home could remain open and the child residing at the home could remain there.

Children’s home suspension lifted

Francesca represented a children’s home that had been issued with an urgent suspension notice by Ofsted, requiring three children in the home to be removed with immediate effect. The notice was issued following an inspection, which found widespread failures relating to leadership and management at the home, staffing and the matching and admissions process.

Francesca was instructed to advise on and lodge an appeal against the suspension notice to the first-tier tribunal, including preparation of witness statements and evidence to support the appeal. Following receipt of the appeal, Ofsted conducted a further monitoring visit and determined that the grounds for suspension were no longer met. Ofsted lifted the suspension and the provider was able to begin operating again without the need to proceed to a full tribunal hearing.

Proposals to cancel / refuse registration

Children’s home proposal to refuse registration

Francesca represented a new children’s home in respect of a proposal by Ofsted to refuse their application for registration. Ofsted proposed to refuse the registration on the basis of the poor quality of policies and procedures, issues relating to safer recruitment, concerns about the configuration of the property and concerns about risks associated with the location of the property.

Francesca was instructed to prepare detailed written representations in response to Ofsted’s notice, seeking to persuade them not to refuse the provider’s application. Ofsted accepted the representations and proceeded to register the children’s home.

Challenging inspections

Nursery complaint improves grading of nursery

Francesca was instructed by a nursery with an excellent inspection history who had recently had an inspection resulting in a grading of ‘requires improvement’. The nursery had serious concerns about the conduct and professionalism of the inspector, as well as the processes followed and findings made by the inspector. Francesca prepared and lodged a formal complaint, on behalf of the provider, with Ofsted, who determined that the evidence gathered did not meet their quality assurance standards and therefore the report would not be published. A new inspection with a different inspector was carried out urgently and the nursery retained their ‘outstanding’ grading. In addition, a number of elements of the complaint were upheld.

Professional discipline

Francesca represented a paramedic before the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS) in respect of a case brought by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC made allegations of sexually motivated misconduct and dishonesty; two of the most serious allegations a professional can face. Evidence was presented to demonstrate that our client was unwell at the time, coupled with significant workplace pressures.

The tribunal determined that our client’s actions were misleading, rather than dishonest and did not find the conduct to be sexually motivated. The tribunal determined that a caution order was appropriate in the circumstances, allowing our client to continue practising without restriction.

Francesca represented a superintendent pharmacist under investigation by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC had received a complaint relating to COVID-19 home testing kits required in order to travel abroad. Francesca prepared detailed written submissions upon receipt of GPhC’s investigation papers seeking to persuade the GPhC not to refer the matter to the Investigation Committee. The GPhC accepted the representations and closed the case with guidance.

What clients say

"We were immensely grateful for the positive and constructive advice provided by Francesca during our recent discussions with Ofsted. She guided us through the process, helping us to frame our arguments in the most effective way and providing a legal context which reinforced our case. I have no doubt that her expertise was instrumental in persuading Ofsted to allow our new children's home to open." - View from a satisfied client

"I manage a team of Barristers and am fortunate to be instructed by Stephensons Solicitors. The quality of the instructions are second to none, they are true experts in the areas of law they cover and it is clear that they do everything possible to get the very best result for their clients. There are some members of the team that I see go above and beyond the service levels provided by many top firms. These include Carl Johnson, Correna Platt, Francesca Snape, Alison Marriott, Colin Rawson & John Greenwood. All amazingly committed to their clients. I can't recommend them enough." - View from a barrister

"I would like to thank the regulatory team at Stephensons for their outstanding knowledge, advice, guidance and professionalism while they were handling my case. I highly recommend Stephensons regulatory lawyers to any health professional who wishes to register and practice in the UK as they have been extremely helpful and supportive throughout." - View from a satisfied client

“Francesca flawlessly co-ordinated my process from start to finish. Diligent, attentive and responsive to every twist and turn in my situation. I felt totally respected and understood. I never had any doubts about how everything was being handled. All calls and emails were handed quickly. She would answer any questions no matter how small. She was patient and always had enough time to help.” - View from a satisfied client

"I would like to thank Francesca Snape for all her help in a difficult situation. Francesca was not only professional but handled our case with compassion and empathy. The outcome for us was positive and without her help we feel it could have been a far different outcome." - View from a satisfied client