A social worker who was banned from practising because he had not renewed his registration has successfully appealed on the basis that he did not receive the required renewal forms.
David Samufonda, who has been a social worker since 1988, was informed by letter in April 2011 that he had been removed from the General Social Care Council’s register because he had failed to submit a renewal application. Social workers in England have to renew their registration every three years.
The regulator claimed it had sent Samufonda a letter reminding him that his registration was due to expire on 31 January 2011. The letter contained a registration renewal pack.
It sent a second letter to Samufonda’s home address in February warning that he must submit his renewal application or face removal from the register.
But Samufonda told the Care Standards Tribunal that he had not received the packs. He challenged the GSCC to provide evidence in the form of a registered or recorded delivery notice, but the regulator was unable to do so.
The GSCC argued that it had acted reasonably throughout and, since Samufonda had not completed the form or paid the fee, it was “perfectly entitled” to remove him from the register. It added that it was a social worker’s responsibility to ensure they re-register within the prescribed timescale.
But the tribunal found that the burden was on the GSCC to demonstrate that the removal was “a reasonable exercise of discretion”, as stated by law. The panel, led by judge Nancy Hillier, found there was no evidence to show Samufonda had received the notice and renewal application form prior to the expiry of his registration.
It noted that Samufonda had informed the GSCC in February that he had not received the renewal pack, yet there was no evidence that the registrations team checked its delivery status.
“Mr Samufonda must be temporarily re-registered,” concluded Hillier. “The GSCC must send him a notice, giving at least 28 days to comply, and an application form.”
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