Social worker ‘should have kept closer eye on admin team’

A senior practitioner who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and relied on admin staff to update the electronic system failed to ensure they had done so, the General Social Care Council found.

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A social worker who failed to check the admin team was properly updating case records on her behalf has been admonished for the maximum period of five years.

The woman was employed by Salford Council as a social worker and senior practitioner in the Court and Child Protection Team between October 2005 and November 2009.

At the time in question, she was the allocated social worker for nine families and 12 children, the General Social Care Council’s conduct committee heard.

She was also suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, so administrative support arrangements had been put in place to allow her to make hand written notes of visits and leave them in a basket for admin staff to enter on to the council’s Care First electronic recording system.

However, it later emerged that many of the records had not been kept up to date.

The social worker attributed this to a failure on the part of the admin team, but the conduct committee said it was “surprised” she had not checked the records and noticed essential information was missing – especially as this had occurred over a period of several months.

This demonstrated “significant deficiencies” in her practice, which had put vulnerable children at unnecessary risk of harm, the committee said.

However, it noted that the social worker had a previously unblemished record, had expressed regret and shown some insight and was suffering from health problems at the time of the misconduct.

She also provided evidence that she has since changed her practice and presented numerous character references, including one from her current employer.

The committee concluded that a five-year admonishment would allow her to continue practising, but send a strong message that the misconduct was serious.

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