Social worker suspended for copying and pasting reports

A senior social worker who plagiarised assessments forms has been given a 12 month suspension

computer keyboard
Social worker copied and pasted reports Photo: REX/GARO/PHANIE

A senior social worker for a fostering agency has been suspended for a year for copying and pasting from another  worker’s report on a different family.

The senior practitioner had responsibility for the recruitment, training and supervision of foster carers when she was found to have been keeping poor records, including plagiarising sections from another social worker’s report.

In a British Association of Adoption and Fostering form, the name of one family, Family B, appeared in the report on a second family, referred to as Family A. A routine monthly audit of her cases showed she had copied and pasted sections of Family B’s report into the assessment of Family A.

This rendered the assessment invalid.

In a statement to the Health and Care Professions (HCPC) conduct panel the social worker said she had been suffering from health problems and work-related stress. She said she had  experienced a lack of support in coping with her workload.

In this she was backed up by Ruth Minott, one of her supervisors, who said she had observed a number of situations where the social worker was “not dealt with by senior colleagues in a professional manner, leaving her feeling unsupported and unvalued as practitioner”.

Minott described the social worker  as “honest, trustworthy and supportive of both carers and as part of a team”.

The panel found the number of incomplete or inaccurate records, while careless rather than malicious, had the potential to put children at risk.

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15 Responses to Social worker suspended for copying and pasting reports

  1. sw November 11, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    Outrageous! is the the hcpc on a mission to wipe out all Social Workers. Social Workers will be getting struck off for breathing and being too human like soon. This has to STOP!

    Attempts should be made to keep the few Social Workers that are still practising to remain in in the profession, not drive them away even more. This is the reason why social workers don’t stay in the profession for long, it is because of unrealistic expectations from all angles.

    • H Sharpe November 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Surely this is lack of good clear supervision and if monthly audits had not picked this up before, what was the point of monthly audits? Whilst I can understand the concern expressed by the HCPC the real concerns have not been dealt with i.e., lack of supervision and the real impact this has on the workers. It seems from the above report we have lost another good social worker through lack of good management.

  2. Sam Khan November 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I agree it is so wrong how quickly agencies/ organisations are quick off the mark to criticise and find faults in individuals who frequently work with high case loads and a great deal of stress, when at the most basic level of not providing adequate support and supervision is often why such matters sadly arise and has severe impact on individuals who go above and beyond their normal call of duty to help the most vulnerable people in society. However, again we continue to repeat the same mistakes and fail time and time again to support honest and hardworking social workers!!

  3. David Rudd November 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Whilst the social workers action cannot be condoned the action taken by HCPC can be condemned as being yet another case where senior managers failed to support the stress felt by many social workers as HCPC also failed to address these failings…..I would hazard a guess that the suspended social worker will not return to the profession and only add to the lowering of morale of social workers

  4. Fred November 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Again another shocking example of the treble jeopardy.

    Even if you survive your own Authority’s or private employer’s disciplinary action, you then face action via the over paid largely social work unqualified QUANGO gadgies working on the Rolls Royce conditions paid by HCPC / SSSC.

    The sooner these useless, hugely expensive QUANGOs are abolished the better.

  5. Chrissie November 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    The longer people keep trying to justify things which put the public at risk the longer the public’s perception of social workers will remain negative. It is a serious ‘mistake’ to put families at risk and the penalties should be high in order to restore faith in the profession

  6. Nabu White November 13, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    This is shocking to read and discover it is happening. Regardless of the worker’s stress she should take responsiblity for her negligant practice. In the end we have huge responsiblites to recruit and assess foster cares that are trust worthy and safe to care for chidlren. If as social workers you loose sight of this you should no longer be in the job.

    • Asye November 13, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

      I recognise and reflect on all the comments but the reality is all the cases that have an element of poor or no supervision and employer negligence seem to fall on the the lap of the Social Worker. This job on the coal face is difficult enough without a quango that is meant to defend us taking our right to practice away. The sooner we get unionised and work to rule the better, the wheels will fall off and maybe it will change. Social Workers need to look after themselves to be able to look after the most vulnerable people. Empowerment starts at the front door.

  7. Vera November 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I wish the HCPC would start looking at the high case loads the social workers have instead of keep beating them up. I was a child protection SW and had as many as 42 cases at one point, I am so glad I decided to leave the profession there was no way I could do my job to the best of my ability with so many cases however all I keep reading is SW’ failing, it’s a joke!!!

  8. Paula November 14, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    What jobs do social workers leaving the profession go into ive had enough and want to do something else.

  9. John Ramsey November 14, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    The criticism that the registering body takes too little account of things like high workload and poor supervision and management seems to be chiefly leveled at the HCPC rather than its predecessor, the GSCC. I can recall one case where a social worker who made quite a serious error of judgement was exonerated by the GSCC. Despite the fact that she had fully discussed her case in supervision and her managers were aware of her decision, they only referred the SW for a Conduct hearing.
    The GSCC similarly confined its sanction of Marie Ward and Gillie Christou,who were involved in the “Baby P” case to a short suspension rather than deregistration, refusing to participate in their scapegoating by Haringey Council and Ed Balls.
    Perhaps the HCPC needs to look back at some of its predecessor’s decisions and allow them to inform its current policy.

  10. Anonymous November 14, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    Oh my goodness! The HCPC seem to be on some sort of mission to destroy what is left of the social work profession. They just don’t seem to be addressing the real issues here. How come managers are given so much power to the extent that they seem untouchable and the social workers are penalised for the poor management, and supervision. I have a manager who makes the most unsafe decisions, becomes defensive when challenged and is pretty useless in the role. But do senior managers address this – no. The social workers are left to mop up after the managers poor decision making and left to feel unsafe within their practice. This leads to stress within the team, sickness and high staff turnover. One asks, where is the HCPC now- nowhere to be seen. Why – because if you’re in management you can make as many mistakes as you like, practice dishonesty every day, make poor decisions for a living, place children and families at risk like it’s going out of fashion, but don’t worry, if you get caught we’ll blame the social worker! Management today in our profession is an absolute joke, and it’s the social workers left picking up the pieces. If only the Government wouldn’t mind waking up for a moment to have a look at what’s going on in our profession and society I’d be awfully grateful – and then if you could do something positive about it, that would be helpful!!!

    It is about time we all stood together and had a vote of no confidence to HCPC and asked for the College of Social Work to become our regulating body, would be a good start. So come on you social workers, let’s get a petition going to vote them out – let’s stand together and be that real vessel for change. Come you social workers let’s make a difference. Come on you social workers lets stand up to the government and say enough is enough. We are social workers who want to work to protect the most vulnerable in society and you are strangulating us from doing our jobs. The government is running our profession into the ground, because it wants to show the public that we are failing and make a case for privatisation. Well enough is enough; we will not stand up for this anymore. Government social workers are coming for you….. Let’s RECLAIM OUR PROFESSION!

  11. Chrissy November 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    What do sw’s go into? Support work at £8.00 per hour if you are lucky but least you get to sleep at night.

  12. mandy November 17, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    I left fostering social work due to stress – similar situation, no time to write up supervisions and definitely no support from management, I raised my concerns to management who did not support me. My stress went out of the window due to lies that Managers told even at Panel. My colleague had out of date records going back years, the Manager was aware and did nothing. Perhaps Ofsted should check this as part of their inspections. Schools only get half a day notice of an inspection so should fostering agencies. We had five weeks to get our work up to date, it was a joke.
    If children’s lives are being put at risk, then the HCPC should ask the Managers what they are doing to reduce this, as social workers follow instructions from their Managers. I agree some make bad decisions.

  13. Emily November 18, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    As always we social workers take the blame! Why none see that this is a SYSTEMIC FAILURE rather than individual action? This human mistake is reflection of what we face every day. Managers and senior managers don’t even care about how we do the work as long as they have good targets to report to head of services. Being as SW is what I’ve always wanted but I regret it so much! Is taking up my life, it cost me my marriage and I’m even neglecting my own children. We all have copy and paste and I’m sure it was a mistake done under the level of stress we face. My manager email me even when I am on annual leave, asking me for pieces of work so that he can meet targets. How sad is this!!!! My thoughts are with this social worker whose integrity has been questioned and I bet her managers are untouchable!