A social worker has been struck off after she “deliberately chose not to carry out work within her competence”, causing actual and potential harm to service users.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) found that the experienced social worker, who had a restricted caseload to help her manage her work, was guilty of wilful departures from fundamental duties. These involved repeated failures to undertake statutory visits, core assessments, care plans and following up service user requests.
She had also failed to arrange contact between siblings who could not be placed together, and between children in care and a parent.
Potentially serious ramifications
“[Contact] was delayed and thus denied for periods of time, causing vulnerable service users real upset, with one self-harming. The consequences for the service users were potentially serious,” the panel found.
The social worker did not attend the hearing in November, which happened after a colleague investigated concerns about the practitioner’s record keeping and non-completion of statutory visits within timeframes.
The panel found she had also failed to maintain timely records, carry out and record statutory visits.
“The lack of recording also denies a true and accurate record of the decisions that have been made in respect of a looked-after child. This means that when someone who has been a looked-after child tries to understand their experiences, either as a child or later as an adult, the information is not there and the gaps cannot ever be filled,” the panel stated.
Deliberately and intentionally
The panel could find no reason why the social worker would fail to carry out her duties, other than by choice.
“The registrant acted deliberately and intentionally by disregarding her knowledge, training and experience. It was clear that the registrant knew how to undertake all tasks and there was clear evidence that she could do so competently if this was limited to two cases at a time. In the panel’s view, there was no reason why this experienced social worker could only undertake such an unrealistically low level of work other than the fact that she deliberately chose not to carry out work within her competence,” the panel found.
It added: “She had been properly supported, her workloads had been reduced to those of a newly qualified social worker, she had been afforded the opportunity to essentially retrain and time had been set aside for her to update records.”
An order to strike the social worker off was made because the public and colleagues would find it difficult to place confidence in her after the serious misconduct had been established.