A heroin-addicted social worker who placed her 13-month-old daughter’s life at risk by lying to doctors about injuries caused by the girl’s father has been struck off.
The social worker’s daughter was admitted to hospital in October 2007 with severe bruising to her back and a perforated intestine, which doctors said was consistent with blows to the abdomen. An older fracture to her skull was also discovered.
A conduct committee at the General Social Care Council found the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, did not seek medical help for her daughter immediately and lied to doctors and a county court about the cause of the injuries to protect her partner. He was later convicted of grievous bodily harm and jailed for two years.
A statement from the GSCC said: “The committee found that she lied to protect her partner at the expense of her daughter’s well-being and health. They noted that a delayed diagnosis potentially threatened the child’s life.”
The woman also failed to disclose her repeated use of heroin to her employer. She was removed from the register for “continuing and profound dishonesty”.
During the two-day hearing in London, it emerged that the woman failed to disclose her drug use on a pre-employment questionnaire, which asked if she “had ever been dependent on or misused drugs or alcohol”.
She later admitted in conversation to “probably dabbling a little” prior to her initial job interview in December 2005.
At a disciplinary hearing in March 2008, she admitted her heroin use got to a point where it was “more or less daily” by February 2006.
She sought help from a specialist drug treatment service and began receiving prescribed medication, but did not declare it to her employer, an unnamed local authority in England, until December 2007.
The conduct committee said her actions “demonstrated dishonesty over a prolonged period of time, a significant lack of insight and a lack of judgement”.
The woman did not attend the hearing or present any mitigating circumstances. The committee took into account the absence of any previous disciplinary matters, evidence that the performance of her work had not been affected by her drug use, and the fact that she did not personally inflict the injuries on her daughter.
However, the committee said the woman showed little, if any, insight into the consequences of her failure to protect the health and well-being of the child, and said her behaviour was “fundamentally incompatible” with continuing to practise as a social worker.