Mental health worker suspended after client commits suicide

A mental health social worker who failed to properly assess a man who later committed suicide has been suspended from the social care register for a year.

Stephen Thompson was working for North Lincolnshire Council’s crisis resolution and home treatment team in January 2008 when he was twice contacted about a service user, known as PK, who had threatened to kill himself.

Thompson did not contact PK directly or contact’s the client’s partner to ascertain whether he was safe, a conduct committee of the General Social Care Council found.

Although he made a note of the calls and accessed PK’s risk management plan, Thompson failed to initiate an approved social work mental health assessment or follow procedures set out by the crisis resolution team.

Thompson did not attend the hearing but admitted in writing that he had “failed to identify the potential level of danger posed by PK”. He could not explain why this was the case.

The conduct committee accepted this was an isolated incident and that Thompson’s expressions of regret were genuine. The GSCC’s position was that “there was no causal link between the registrant’s actions on the evening of 9 January 2008 and the tragic death of PK”.

However, it took into account the fact that Thompson, a social worker for more than 20 years, was admonished in 2007 for engaging in inappropriate relationships with service users.

The committee concluded that this, together with the “significant failings” in his practice relating to the threatened suicide, made a period of suspension necessary to protect the public.

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