A social worker who was banned from practising earlier this year by a General Social Care Council committee has won an appeal to be put back on the social care register.
The Care Standards Tribunal has ruled that the decision to remove Tricia Forbes, following a hearing in February, was “too severe” and that suspension would have been appropriate. However, the CST has no power to substitute an alternative sanction meaning Forbes has regained her place on the register.
Forbes appeared before the General Social Care Council’s conduct committee over her mishandling of a child protection case involving a teenage girl.
Failed to initiate child protection inquiry
During the hearing, Forbes, at the time a deputy team manager in children’s services at Waltham Forest council, in east London, admitted failing to initiate a child protection inquiry after the girl, known as child A, disclosed physical abuse by her father in May 2005.
The girl was dropped off by the side of the road by Forbes, who did not know where she was going. Child A later went missing for three days, before being admitted to hospital having drunk a bottle of vodka she had shoplifted.
A strategy meeting was convened, chaired by Forbes, but she failed to inform other professionals that she had been involved in the case. In its judgement, the CST said Forbes did not disclose her previous handling of the case because of her inexperience of strategy meetings.
Relatively new manager
It added that Forbes was a relatively new deputy team manager, had been left without effective management cover and there was little evidence of management support.
“In terms of public protection we accept that the appellant has learned her lesson and there is very little chance of her acting in such a way again,” it said, adding that she had no previous disciplinary matters or complaints, since qualifying in 1999.
The ruling also said that the council had “unrealistic expectations” of junior first-line managers such as Forbes, which “exacerbated the confusion and at worst victimised” Forbes.