The HCPC has suspended a social worker who falsely logged statutory visits to avoid criticism from a manager a colleague claimed was preoccupied with “box ticking”.
The social worker received a six months suspension following a conduct hearing where she admitted lying about completing statutory visits to two looked-after children.
The social worker told the panel she struggled to manage her workload after returning from maternity leave. She was suffering significant stress at the time and was left “deeply upset” by her manager’s “deskilling and devaluing” approach to managing performance, which included criticising staff publicly.
“One of the measures she adopted was to circulate a group email to every member of the department each week, listing all instances of work which had not been completed within the required time scales. This was unpopular with a number of people in the department,” the HCPC panel said.
Preoccupation with box ticking
To “avoid further criticism”, the social worker logged two statutory visits before she had carried them out. A previous manager of the social worker told the panel she did not approve of the new manager’s style, which she saw as “a preoccupation with ‘box ticking’ at the expense of quality”.
However, the panel said the social worker’s actions were dishonest and her efforts to “deflect” criticism of her performance marked a “significant breach” of her colleagues’ trust.
“It was made more serious by being related to the records of visits which the Panel had already found are important to the work of a social work team and the protection of the children for whom it is responsible,” the panel said.
“The registrant’s misconduct had the potential to result in harm to vulnerable service users and undermine public confidence in the profession and the records that underpin the work of social workers.”
The social worker’s admissions of dishonesty and developing insight came “at a very late stage”, the panel said. It said a suspension order would give her the opportunity to build on the progress she has made, as well as to develop insight and demonstrate there was no danger of further misconduct.