A social worker has been suspended from practice by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for failing to manage her caseload.
The Kent social worker was unable to manage her caseload “without close supervision” and failed to complete tasks and paperwork in good time, the panel heard.
The conduct panel heard the social worker had her caseload audited while employed by Kent County Council and it was found in a number of cases that she had not been keeping clear and accurate records. The panel found this demonstrated a “serious lack of competence.”
She has been suspended for twelve months for continuing to “present a risk to service users, including vulnerable children.” The panel said it had no evidence that she had taken steps to remedy her practice.
The social worker in question sent an email to the HCPC on 22 September saying that she would like to submit evidence but would not be able to until the day after the hearing.
The panel decided that the social worker had waived her right to attend the hearing and proceeded in her absence.
She was not represented at the hearing.
Unison national officer Helga Pile said: “I wouldn’t like to comment on the individual case, but as a general comment we’ve long been concerned that there are sometimes cases where employers are referring issues to the regulator that we believe should be dealt with within their own processes.
“It is very difficult to disentangle issues of conduct with issues of poor management but unfortunately while social workers are accountable to a regulator, there’s often no redress when there are issues of poor management.
“No statutory force to the Employer Standards means there’s no accountability,” she said.
Lien Watts, assistant general secretary of the Social Workers Union, said when a social worker is not coping: “that manager has a duty of care to that social worker as much as to anyone else, to enable them to do their job properly”.
An HCPC spokesperson said: “HCPC’s primary function is to set and maintain standards for the professions we regulate in order to protect the public.
Our main concern is that registrants are ‘fit to practise’ that is they have the knowledge, skills and character to practise their profession safely and effectively.
“We work on a case by case basis and the process is not intended to be punitive but is designed to protect vulnerable individuals using services of those we regulate.”