Struggling social worker who failed to manage workload suspended for a second time

A Brent social worker has had six months added to a 12 month suspension

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Social worker failed to manage cases Photo: REX/Stock Connection

A case manager, originally sanctioned for not managing his workload effectively, has been sanctioned again by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for not providing evidence of improved practice.

The social worker with  Brent Council’s learning disability team was originally suspended for 12 months in November 2013, after a panel found he posed a risk to service users.

Concerns were first raised by his employer when he did not turn up to a meeting reviewing the sectioning of a mentally ill patient, causing the review to be adjourned.

An audit of the council’s electronic case management system revealed the social worker was struggling with his caseload.

He caused delays to service users’ support by failing to complete records, write support plans and carry out assessments in good time.

At the time, the conduct panel concluded the social worker could return to practise after 12 months if he provided evidence of steps taken to further his training and professional development and manage his workload more effectively.

The panel meeting to review the social worker’s fitness to practise after a year’s suspension heard that he had submitted no such evidence or information.

The panel said: “In the absence of any evidence of the registrant having developed insight into his failing and taken action to remedy these failings, he remains a risk to the public.”

But the panel decided it would be fair to give him another opportunity to engage fully with the process.
The social worker was suspended for a further six months.

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14 Responses to Struggling social worker who failed to manage workload suspended for a second time

  1. Andrew Foster November 6, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I suppose sacking this guy would be out of the question?

  2. Mark November 6, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    This is an example of why the social work registration quangos are such an evil waste of money. A worker can get into trouble with her employer, get subject to disciplinary action; first jeopardy.
    Whatever happens they then go for trail by either the SSSC in Scotland or the HCPC in England; second jeopardy.
    Then they get their registration status and disciplinary record published on the website and probably reported in print and electronic media and generally humiliated in front of the world but especially friends colleagues and neighbours.; triple jeopardy.
    Then they get harangued on social media and bullied by trolls.
    Oh and social workers have to pay for the privilege of registering as well!
    And we wonder why recruitment and retention of social workers is an issue.

    • LD November 7, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Agreed. iIdont know any social workers who are not behind with their paperwork.

    • Chokwadi November 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

      Spot on. It’s about naming and shaming and not about supporting social workers to develop.

    • Marge November 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      Totally agree with you Mark. It’s beyond beggars belief the humiliation one has to suffer for being human and making a mistake. And we are meant to be within a caring profession.

  3. Miss Taylor November 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Outrageous! Management gets away with murder. HCPC needs taking to task. HCPC is eroding social work.
    “Social workers beware!, Management must be protected at all costs, we will support their bullying intimidation and their underhanded witch hunts”
    This should be the mission statement for the HCPC

    • Marge November 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      I couldn’t agree with you more. It makes my blood boil.

  4. Susan Cooper November 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    Absolutely agree, Social Workers have a degree they then go through a period of Newly Qualified while they gain experience, they then have to prove ongoing training which I also agree with. Vulnerable people are not at risk through lack of training, Social Workers need more resources, support and supervision and manageable caseloads, managers need more money from government whether local or central to employ more Social Workers. Stop blaming the Social Workers, its lack of funding thats the issue.

  5. Andrew Foster November 7, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Again, I am unclear why I was ‘ moderated’ out…..I simply wondered why this guy had not been sacked…..was it too difficult, or were the interests of service users marginalised as the report suggests?

    • Rachel Schraer November 7, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Hi Andrew- thanks for your interest in the article. It sometimes takes us a bit of time to get to approving all our comments which is why yours didn’t appear. I believe the social worker in question was dismissed from his post- the HCPC proceedings took place afterwards to decide whether he should remain on the register.

      Best,
      Rachel at Community Care

      • wiseacre November 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

        So after a period this social worker will be off to another local authority where, more than likely, he wil not be given the support by management that he obviously deserves.
        I am not a social worker but a “client” who happens to have management experience in the public and private sectors (board level in big and small organisations). What has struck me is that what passes as “management” in social services departments is nothing like what the rest of us managers see as management! I have never come across such a poorly managed sector as we find in social services. There are layers upon layers of managers whose function mystifies me – apart from the fact that they go to lots of meetings and look at lots of statistics on targets. I feel sorry for the poor front line staff. “Lions led by donkeys” might be a bit rude but it does keep cropping up in my mimd. And don’t get me going on the performance of local authority Cabinet members.

  6. Jonathan Elliott November 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    The difficulty of case load management has long been a contentious issue within social work as it is caught within a chicken and egg scenario.
    Busy workers often have no time to manage their time to maximise their effectiveness. Whilst limited resources force a fire fighting culture, which does not recognise the importance of thinking and planning time.
    Managers too are all to often are caught up in reacting rather than planning carefully.
    Time management tools have historically, also contributed little, as they often focus on counting the uncountable. There is however a better way to REACT.

    REACT is a workload management system which helps to: Risk Evaluate, Appreciate Complexity and helps set Task priorities.
    It has been developed from within my own practise to help social workers and their managers make better informed decisions. It also provides evidence of good working practise and case progression. This model has been trailed in Trafford and has been peer reviewed by Neil Thompson and Martin C Calder. It is yet to be published. The results from practise have shown that use of the model reduces stress and provides manages with more meaningful data to judge performance based on outcomes rather than other measures.

  7. Planet Autism November 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    “a panel found he posed a risk to service users”

    Those defending him appear to be saying that you may all also be posing such a risk to service users, or that this is commonplace. Whatever the reason, is this acceptable?

    People should speak up if they are struggling with workloads, put in reports stating that they feel they are unable to give a good service and are potentially putting clients at risk. Why not all email the Chief Social Worker en masse and then perhaps something would be done.

    It’s no good making excuses, clients have the right to be protected.

  8. Anonymous November 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    The social worker qualified in 2003, but only registered in 2009 after working as a residential care home manager for several years.

    “In January 2010, he was employed as a case manager in the London Borough of Brent’s disability learning team. In July the following year, the council became aware of concerns about his work after he failed to turn up to a Mental Health Tribunal hearing. On 6th June 2012 the Registrant was dismissal for gross misconduct for more than just not managing his case load. The matter was referred to the HCPC”.

    The social worker provided the following mitigating circumstances. He went some way to explain his actions. In short, “he alleged that his performance and confidence were undermined by a lack of proper induction, training and supervisory management. He also claimed he was given a higher caseload than would normally be appropriate for one so early in his career. He was also affected by personal problems, not least a bereavement – his mother had died in March 2011 – With this said most social workers reading this will think “that could be me”.

    The social worker failed to attend the HCPC hearings dated 31/10/2014, neither did he provide any written evidence or submission. The social workers HCPC bundle was 319 pages in total – rather significant.

    If you do not engage with the HCPC process this will look unfavourably on you. However the social worker concerned despite not attending or providing any written submissions should consider themselves quite fortunate that they were not struck off, particularly since this was the second suspension. I am rather stunned that the social worker who failed to provide any evidence of insight and action taken to remediate his actions will be given a further opportunity to practise – There is no sense of owning personal responsibility for poor practice.

    Having been before the HCPC I think it is important to highlight some points. There is a marked separation between the “HCPC” and the “Lay People”. During my hearing I found the HCPC to be helpful, supportive and accommodating. In particular the lay legal advisor who took the time to provide advice and direction for my final submission. The Lay Panel on the other hand were not, I had to provide three submissions and a concluding submission which I was given 30 minutes to prepare. I was not made aware by the HCPC this would be required at any time prior to the hearing.
    You have a choice to give a submission or be cross examined, if you are cross examined this allows the lay panel to ask questions and therefore, you can elaborate on your responses. The panel cannot cross examine you if you give a verbal
    submission (Hope that makes sense).

    The HCPC employ Kingsley Napley Solicitors to act on their behalf and conduct the investigation about you, but they do not interview you and neither do you have a say.
    A private preliminary hearing is held without you present however, you can provide a written submission/evidence. I think it would be helpful if social workers could attend this hearing as this may reduce the progression to a full hearing, although based upon my experience probably not.
    Only then are you presented with a hearing bundle at least six weeks before the hearing. Then you are required to prepare a position statement to be submitted four weeks before the hearing(not a witness statement) but there is no substantive HCPC advice or guidance how to do this. When I contacted my case worker he referred me to Kingsley Napley who were not in a position to advise me due to conflict of interest. So there I was having to defend my career without any support, guidance or advice – Not pleasant but achieved and accompanied by a number of outstanding references.

    The hearing is not a hearing it is a trial, if you are found guilty you have to offer what sanction you think fits the verdict of misconduct, but that makes no difference to the view of the panel.

    It is my personal view that the responsibility for Social Work hearings should be transferred to The College of Social Work, who have a realistic understanding of practice issues. Surely if 91,000 social workers lobby for this, there can be change.
    86% of complaints made to the HCPC relate to social workers, that is how vulnerable we all are.
    To reassure anyone reading this, this blog is to inform and educate social workers of the reality of the HCPC process.