Agency social worker suspended over child protection failings

A social worker has been suspended from the register in Wales after letting her work slip “way below” the required standard over a six-month period.

An agency social worker has been suspended for 18 months for failing to comply with child protection procedures and putting service users at risk while employed part-time at a local authority.

However, the social worker, Deborah Borley, maintains the authority pursued misconduct charges against her in order to appease one particular family who, she alleges, had waged a year-long war of complaints against the department.

Borley, who was then on Sanctuary Personnel’s books, was found by the Care Council for Wales (CCW) to have failed to undertake risk assessments and keep accurate records, and to have demonstrated bias in a child care case.

The CCW’s conduct committee said Borley had allowed her work to slip “way below the standard required of a social worker” during her six-month placement with the unnamed authority.

“In assessing the serious nature of the registrant’s misconduct, the committee gathered evidence of repeated failures over a six-month period and evidence that her behaviour had the potential to cause significant harm to services users,” the committee said.

In reaching its decision, the committee expressed concern about Borley’s “inability to acknowledge her failings in this case and therefore the likelihood that she will find it difficult to change her approach”, although it did acknowledge that she had worked effectively in other cases.

It concluded that an 18-month suspension should allow Borley “time to reflect on the shortcomings in her practice” and undertake training in record keeping, evidence-based practice, risk assessment, child protection procedures and stress management.

Borley, who did not attend the hearing and could not afford legal representation, admitted there were “severe time limitations” on her case work. But she also claimed the evidence put forward during the hearing was one-sided.

“My name has been tarnished in the public domain, so although the evidence put forward was weak, fabricated and misleading, it does not prevent prospective local authorities, colleagues or service users from passing judgement,” she said.

“Being branded a ‘risk to the public’ is soul-destroying, especially as a mother and sole provider.”

Borley said she had lodged an appeal with the Care Standards Tribunal.

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