A General Social Care Council conduct committee decided yesterday that a social worker was guilty of eight of the allegations it heard against her, involving her handling of cases involving children.
It has now retired to consider whether Ruth Hughes is guilty of misconduct and, if so, what sanction it will impose.
During the two-day hearing, the committee heard that managers at Nottinghamshire Council had concerns about Hughes’s practice soon after they began working with her in August 2004.
Hughes had been appointed in December 2003 and had passed a probationary period but issues emerged that she was unable to manage her workload, did not have the ability to assess risk and lacked fundamental social work skills soon after she joined a new team in 2004.
Four months later capability procedures were initiated over the quality of her work. She was given weekly supervision, instead of the standard monthly sessions, and a light and low-risk caseload.
Giving evidence yesterday, Shelagh Mitchell, who managed Hughes from July 2005, said she had had an earlier experience of working with her where Hughes had not admitted that she did not understand a case.
“She did not say that she did not understand even though it would have been perfectly acceptable for her to do so because she was newly-qualified.”
Unable to prioritise
Mitchell told the hearing that Hughes was unable to prioritise work, that she would take a long time to complete work, even basic letters, and that she had been forced to produce a weekly diary sheet for Hughes.
Among the allegations the committee found were proven was that Hughes had intended to allow a three-year-old girl to attend a case conference where there were discussions about domestic violence and drugs.
The child was not present during the meeting after Mitchell intervened and asked another social worker to look after the three-year-old.
Hughes was dismissed by the council in March 2006 after it was decided her work had not improved sufficiently. She appealed but the decision was upheld.