Social worker suspended for failing patients with severe mental health problems

A social worker who failed to keep proper records and maintain regular contact with a number of service users with severe mental health problems has been suspended from the register in England.

Clare Bowthorpe-Weller also lied to her manager about why she did not see a distressed service user, claiming the service user had left before she got there, a panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s conduct and competence committee heard.

Bowthorpe-Weller was a care co-ordinator for Oxfordshire council’s City East community mental health team, responsible for adult patients with severe and enduring mental health issues. Due to the nature of their illnesses, these services users required regular contact and review, the panel heard.

Yet, between September 2009 and May 2011, Bowthorpe-Weller repeatedly failed to complete and keep up-to-date the appropriate paperwork for a number of individuals on her caseload.

She also admitted that she did not adequately record contact, or attempt contact, with patients on approximately 71 separate occasions during that period.

Bowthorpe-Weller claimed she had been suffering an episode of illness at the time, but the panel found there was no evidence to support that contention.

The social worker reminded the panel that she had risen successfully up through the profession and said she was “horrified” by the omissions she had made. She was a caring social worker, who wanted the best for the patients under her care.

But panel chair Raymond Pattison said: “The panel has found proved serious matters relating to the registrant’s practice, as well as her honesty. With regard to her failings in practice, the panel is satisfied that these exposed service users and members of the public to a risk of harm.

“While the panel accepted that the registrant’s dishonesty was not premeditated, honesty and integrity are at the heart of the public’s confidence in the profession. The panel was satisfied that the registrant did not illustrate any sufficient insight into the effect of her actions in this regard, and the risk of repetition in similar circumstances therefore remains.”

The panel decided the most appropriate action was to suspend Bowthorpe-Weller from the register for one year. She was present on both days of the hearing and was represented by counsel on the first day.

Bowthorpe-Weller resigned from Oxfordshire council in late 2011 following an investigation into her conduct.

Read the full notice of decision

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