A social work manager has been sanctioned by the HCPC after failing to properly support an inexperienced colleague in a case which was later subject to a serious case review.
A fitness to practise panel cautioned the manager after finding he failed to make sure the newly qualified social worker had carried out an initial assessment for an 11-year-old boy and checked that a medical appointment for the boy was kept.
The panel also considered fitness to practise allegations regarding the frontline social worker but found these were not sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct.
In reaching its decisions, the panel heard that the team had “very high caseloads” and was experiencing “clashes” with senior management at the council at the time.
The manager said he was new to his role and had received limited support. He argued it was the social worker’s responsibility to carry out the assessment and check the boy’s medical appointment was kept.
But the panel concluded the manager had “overall responsibility” to make sure actions were carried out, particularly given the social worker was newly qualified and “struggling with an unrealistic caseload”. It said the manager should have supervised the social worker more regularly.
“Had he done so, this would potentially have identified much earlier that the initial assessment had not been completed,” the panel said.
It added: “He sought to blame a lack of supervision, a lack of experience and the fact that others were involved, including a junior social worker, to avoid accepting his own responsibility. He has demonstrated insufficient insight to allay the panel’s fears of a risk of repetition.”
The panel made a caution order against the manager as he was not “directly responsible” for the day-to-day handling of the case. His lack of “thorough oversight” contributed to failings identified in the serious case review but he “was by no means solely responsible” for the harm suffered by the child, it added.