A social worker suspended from practice for three years following two domestic disputes has been struck off following a review hearing by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The former Durham County Council social worker was subject to a HCPC conduct hearing in November 2013 after police were called to her home on two occasions in 2011 due to drunken altercations between her and her then partner.
On one of these occasions, the conduct panel found that the social worker was obstructive and verbally abusive to the police, and gave false information to officers.
Although the social worker told the panel she was a victim of domestic violence and fearful of reprisals from her partner, the HCPC panel felt her dishonesty and lack of insight into how her behaviour could damage the reputation of social work amounted to misconduct.
As a result the panel imposed a 12-month suspension order on the social worker.
The suspension was extended for another 12 months in November 2014 and for another year in November 2015 after review hearings decided there was not enough evidence that her fitness to practise was no longer impaired.
The latest review hearing, held on 9 November without the registrant present, noted that the social worker had not been in contact with the HCPC since October 2015 or responded to communications about the latest review hearing.
This was despite the 2014 and 2015 review hearings suggesting ways the registrant could demonstrate insight or remediation.
Given her failure to engage with the HCPC the panel felt it had no but to conclude that the social worker’s fitness to practise remained impaired, leaving it with a choice of either extending the suspension for a fourth year or striking off the registrant.
The panel noted that suspensions should be used for serious allegations that are “unlikely to be repeated” but since it had no evidence to the contrary it could not be sure if such behaviour was unlikely to happen again. On these grounds the panel decided that extending the social worker’s suspension was “no longer the appropriate and proportionate response”.
The panel, therefore, decided to remove the social worker from the social work register.
“Although the panel had no information as to the registrant’s current situation, it acknowledged that such an order would be likely to have a serious impact upon her if she wished to return to practise,” the panel said. “However, the panel determined that the interests of protecting the public and upholding confidence in the profession outweighed the interests of the registrant.”