Kids Company Psychologist Banned For One Year After Taking MDMA With A Vulnerable Client

A 'deplorable' psychologist who worked for the controversial Kids Company charity has been banned for one year for taking MDMA with a vulnerable client in a nightclub toilet.

A Health and Care Professions Council disciplinary panel heard that Dr Helen Winter and a colleague took the party drug MDMA on a night out at the Hidden bar in Vauxhall, south London.

They then bumped into two clients of Dr Winter's - who took more of the drug in the toilets of the nightclub as one of the clients watched. She then offered some of the MDMA to the client, the panel was told.

Dr Winter allowed the two clients to stay at her home contrary to regulations.
However she claimed this was because she was worried one of them 'was very ill and she wanted to make sure that she was OK'.

Following a disciplinary hearing on June 5, 2014, Dr Winter was given a written warning which would remain on her file for a period of 12 months.

It later emerged that she also failed a spot-check drug test at Kids Company, as she was found to have cocaine in her system.

Having heard all the evidence, the disciplinary panel chose to suspend Dr Winter for 12 months.

Panel chairman Penny Griffith said: 'In reaching its conclusion the panel had regard to aggravating and mitigating factors.

'The misconduct was extremely serious and there was a significant breach of trust, particularly given the vulnerability of the young people concerned.

'The mitigating factors are that Dr Winter has engaged with these proceedings, made partial admissions, has undertaken extensive reflection and has expressed remorse for her actions.

'A suspension order, in this instance, provides an opportunity for Dr Winter to address the deficiencies identified, and to provide further evidence of reflection.

To impose the more restrictive sanction of striking off from the Register would be unnecessarily punitive and disproportionate at this stage.'

The suspension comes into force on March 9. Dr Winter has until then to appeal against the panel's decision.

Kids Company, the charity she worked for at the time, was set up in 1996 by Camila Batmanghelidjh to help deprived inner city children.

It was said to provide support for up to 36,000 children, although this figure is believed to be exaggerated.

The charity got into serious financial difficulties last year and a £3million government grant was withheld until Ms Batmanghelidjh agreed to resign as chief executive.

However the government then sought to reclaim the money over alleged breaches of the grant's terms, and Kids Company went into compulsory liquidation.

Speaking of her hopes for the future last month, Dr Winter said: ‘I just want to be able to get on and be the clinical psychologist I was on the path to being before life got in the way.’

But Ms Griffith said: ‘The panel considers that the failings identified above were extremely serious, given the harm which is likely to have occurred to service users, in particular Client C who Dr Winter said had a lifelong serious health issue and was a highly vulnerable individual.’

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