A social worker who derailed a local authority’s application for an emergency protection order in court has been suspended from the social work register for 12 months.
The decision follows the social worker’s actions in November 2012 concerning Child A, who was taken to hospital after being injured during an allegedly violent incident between her teenage mother and her aunt.
The injury prompted a referral recommending the child, who was already considered a child in need, should be removed from the mother in light of the parent’s indifference to the child’s injuries.
The council initially expected the police to remove the child under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989, but when that didn’t happen it applied for an emergency protection order (EPO).
While the family’s allocated social worker was aware of the council’s plan and made no objection, but when giving evidence in court, he said he did not feel the child would be at risk of immediate harm and did not recommend their separation despite supporting the idea of the police using their powers under Section 46.
As a result of his evidence the court rejected the council’s application for an EPO.
The Health and Care Professions Council conduct panel found the social worker, who gave no reasons for his change of mind in court, had not paid sufficient attention to the concerns in the referral.
The panel also found that his actions placed “the maintenance of his good professional relationship with the mother above his duty of care to the child”.
“The consequence of the registrant’s actions were that Child A was exposed to unnecessary but foreseeable risk of harm,” said the panel in its decision, adding that he had also “damaged the reputation of the council and thus its future credibility in court proceedings”.
The panel ruled that the social worker, who resigned from the authority prior to a disciplinary hearing, had committed misconduct and imposed a 12-month suspension from the social work register.
Panel chair Sarah Baalham said: “The panel was of the view that this was an isolated incident and the registrant’s failings are capable of remedy.
“However, the registrant has provided no evidence of appropriate insight or any attempt on his part to address or remedy the failings that the panel has found proved.
“The panel has therefore concluded that there was a significant risk that the registrant would again behave in the same or in a similar manager and consequently future service users could be put at risk.”