A mental health social worker who had sex with a vulnerable former service user has been suspended for another four months on top of his original two-year ban.
Between December 2001 and July 2002, Daniel James Bhim-Rao encouraged a close and dependent relationship with Ms X when he was her allocated social worker, despite knowing that she was extremely vulnerable, a General Social Care Council (GSCC) conduct committee heard at a hearing in 2012.
Later in 2002, when he was no longer her allocated social worker, Bhim-Rao pursued a sexual relationship with Ms X. He ended the relationship in November 2002, but sent her a stream of texts from July 2003 to March 2004, even after she asked him to stop.
The GSCC’s committee found that Bhim-Rao had abused his position of trust and power as a mental health social worker for York council.
But it decided not to strike him off because no other disciplinary matters had been recorded against him since 2004. He had also ceased to contact Ms X that year.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which took over from the GSCC in August 2012, has now reviewed the case and determined that Bhim-Rao still poses a risk to the public.
A panel of the HCPC’s conduct and competence committee said: “In the panel’s opinion, this misconduct, which took place over a relatively long period of time, is indicative of the profoundly unprofessional nature of the registrant’s actions.
“These actions failed to meet the appropriate standards of conduct, which the registrant did not acknowledge at the final hearing, as he did not attend or engage, so as to demonstrate any remorse or insight and to provide evidence of any attempt at remediation.
“Today, the registrant was again not present or represented and has not sent in any additional material to show this panel that he has taken into account his highly inappropriate behaviour and that he has tried to rectify it.
“In the panel’s judgement, at no time did Mr Bhim-Rao act in the service user’s best interests; on the contrary, he acted for his own sexual gratification and for his own benefit at all times.”
The panel noted that the GSCC procedures do not accommodate any review hearings and, therefore, registrants used to be able to expect that, at the expiry of a two-year suspension order, they would be permitted to return straight back into unrestricted practice.
Therefore it decided to give him four months from 9 February 2014 in which to come up with evidence to prove he is now fit to practise.