By Rachel Schraer
A social worker who falsified records of visits to a vulnerable child and failed to act on a disclosure of abuse by a young girl with learning disabilities has been struck off.
Emily Coghlan’s failings came to light after a foster carer complained to Swindon council in May 2011 about the lack of social work contact and support he had received in relation to Child TS.
An assistant team manager reviewed Child TS’s file and found the child’s allocated social worker, Coghlan, had filled out notes in relation to a number of visits. But Child TS’s foster carer said these visits had never taken place.
An internal investigation found Coghlan had provided elaborate details of these alleged visits, including actions taken by Child TS’s foster carer and school, none of which were true, a panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee heard.
Coghlan was suspended by the council following the complaint and later dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.
Three witnesses, including Coghlan’s assistant team manager and team manager, gave evidence at the HCPC’s hearing. Coghlan did not attend and was not represented.
The assistant team manager told the HCPC that, when investigating Coghlan’s behaviour in the case of Child TS, she also discovered that Coghlan had failed to act on a child protection referral made to her concerning a young child with learning disabilities, Child ES.
Child ES had reported issues of past abuse that had occurred when she was in her father’s care, the HCPC’s panel heard.
Coghlan claimed in writing that this disclosure was not as important as suggested and that she would have dealt with it in due time; however, she was then suspended and said she was not given the opportunity to handover any outstanding work.
But the HCPC heard evidence that Coghlan had been asked whether she had any work to handover, and she had failed to mention this case. The panel therefore found this allegation proved.
In both of these cases, Coghlan put vulnerable children at significant risk of harm, the panel found.
She was not newly qualified, but an experienced and fully trained social worker. The panel concluded that it “could not be satisfied in the light of the registrant’s lack of insight into the impact of her failures on vulnerable children that there would not be a continuing potential risk to service users”.
This is the second time this month that a social worker has been struck off after falsifying records about visits to a child.