A social worker who completed a report to make it appear as if she had spoken to a vulnerable child during an assessment when she had not has been struck off.
Caroline Rodgers, who qualified as a social worker in 1995, was working as a locum in Harrow council’s referral and assessment team in February 2012 when she received a referral for Child A.
The boy’s attendance at school was erratic and there were issues of domestic violence and substance abuse within the family, who were known to the children’s services team. His father had just been arrested.
Rodgers was told to speak to Child A as part of her initial assessment, to ask him what life what like for him at school and at home, a panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee heard.
But when she visited his home with an early intervention colleague, the boy was at school.
However, when later completing an assessment report, Rodgers ticked the box to state that she had seen Child A and made entries suggesting that she had spoken to him and observed him and his interactions with his parents. As a result, his case was closed.
Rodgers’ colleague became aware of the proposed closure of the case and, after reviewing the assessment report, raised her concerns with her manager.
Rodgers was unable to explain her conduct and her contract was terminated with immediate effect.
Rodgers did not attend the hearing, but in an email to the HCPC she admitted that she had not seen or spoken to Child A as part of her initial assessment and that she had lied on the report.
The panel found her actions had been “deliberate, reckless and dishonest”.
“She did not simply tick a box in error; she invented conversations with Child A that simply did not take place and added information about Child A’s family that was utterly false,” said panel chair Naseem Malik.
He added that Rodgers’ correspondence with the HCPC demonstrated that she has not recognised the potential serious consequences of her actions for Child A and his family.
The panel found Rodgers’ assertion that she was unwell at the time of the incident and that she was overworked and under significant stress to be “disingenuous”.
“Ms Rodgers has not provided any medical evidence to support her claims,” the panel said. “Nonetheless, even if [we] accept what Ms Rodgers says at face value, the circumstances she describes do not provide any justification for her conduct.
“A social worker has an obligation to report any personal difficulties that might affect their ability to do their job competently and safely.”
The panel concluded that Rodgers presents a continuing risk to service users and removed her from the register.