Social worker struck off over ‘cavalier attitude’

A social worker from Edinburgh whose "cavalier attitude" to child protection cases led her to put service users at risk of harm over a seven-year period has been struck off the register.

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A social worker from Edinburgh whose “cavalier attitude” to child protection cases led her to put service users at risk of harm over a seven-year period has been struck off the register.

Pauline Weir failed to properly manage a number of child protection and looked-after children cases while working for Edinburgh Council between March 2002 and February 2009, a Scottish Social Services Council conduct sub-committee found.

A list of 11 failings included failure to carry out enough visits, failing to maintain appropriate records and produce reports to the required standard, which the sub-committee referred to as the “basic and fundamental skills” required of a social worker.

Over the period of her employment at Edinburgh Council, Weir was unreliable and did not honour her work commitments, the sub-committee heard. She abused the power that came with the job, neglected service users and put people at unnecessary risk.

Although she was given a reduced caseload and encouraged to attend one-to-one support meetings and a number of training courses, there was “no material improvement in her practice nor a willingness to accept any failings”. The committee added that Weir “lacked a clear awareness and insight in relation to her actions” and failed to apologise for her failings.

Weir was suspended by the council in February 2009 and dismissed four months later.

The sub-committee found her misconduct was “of an extremely serious nature, depth and breadth” and said it could not be satisfied she would not act in the same manner in the future.

It concluded: “Weir was unwilling or unable to accept professional responsibility and displayed a cavalier attitude in relation to high risk cases, which in the sub-committee’s view indicates that she was not safe to practice as a social worker.”

Other cases:

• A social worker who disclosed confidential information about a service user during a meeting has been found guilty of misconduct by the General Social Care Council.

Carolyn Knight told people at a meeting at Lincolnshire Police headquarters on 6 June 2008 that the woman had allegedly tried to strangle her child.

Although the GSCC’s conduct committee found misconduct proved, it decided not to impose a sanction, stating: “The misconduct was an isolated incident and had taken place in a protected environment in which no service user was placed at risk of harm.”

• A social worker who was convicted of driving while three times over the legal alcohol limit has been admonished by the General Social Care Council.

Lindsay Phinn pleaded guilty to the offence at South Tyneside Magistrate’s Court in January. She was disqualified from driving and sentenced to 40 hours of community service.

The GSCC’s conduct committee found misconduct proved, but concluded that this was a one-off event. Phinn had shown remorse and insight into her behaviour, and she had a good record as a social worker.

The committee therefore decided to place an admonishment next to her name on the register for nine months.

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