A social worker who allowed a man under investigation for sexual abuse to stay at a house where children were living has been suspended for nine months.
Pauline Anne McKenna was a senior social worker for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland, when she failed to implement child protection policies and procedures in respect of the service user in question.
On another occasion, McKenna allowed a mother to care for her niece despite the fact that the mother’s own child was on the child protection register, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council found.
She also agreed to the closure of a case despite ongoing child protection concerns, which had been highlighted by the service user’s GP.
McKenna admitted her misconduct at a hearing in August. The NISCC’s conduct committee took into account her 30 years’ experience in social care and the fact she had no previous disciplinary record with the regulator.
The trust held a disciplinary hearing in 2009 and issued her with a final written warning. During the internal investigation, it emerged that McKenna had a high and complex caseload.
However, the conduct committee was “deeply concerned” about the serious nature of the misconduct, particularly when set against her long professional history in social care.
Suspending her for nine months, the committee concluded her actions “could have had very serious implications for the children concerned and their carers or families”.
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