A sacked social worker has been vindicated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) after the regulator found allegations against him were “not well founded”.
Knowsley Borough Council dismissed the social worker and referred him to the HCPC following allegations that he had not provided safe accommodation for a homeless young person and had closed cases prematurely, among other misdemeanours.
His line manager, referred to as JB, said the social worker had, prematurely and without authorisation, closed the case of a young expectant mother living in poor conditions inappropriate for a new born.
The HCPC found the social worker had correctly referred the case to the Families First team and closed his involvement in the case in the computer system. His line manager JB did not understand these aspects of the computer system, the panel heard.
She was also considered by the fitness to practise panel to be an unsatisfactory witness, who was “evasive, tailored her evidence to fit with the HCPC’s case…backdating records in view of complaints made to Knowsley Borough Council”.
Another allegation made against the American social worker, who was employed by the council for eight months between 2011 and 2012, involved placing a homeless young person in unsuitable accommodation.
Best the council could provide
The teenager was already placed in bed and breakfast accommodation before the case was allocated to the social worker in question, because he was difficult to place and this was the best the council could provide in the context of what was available.
The social worker in question went on to visit the boy regularly to ensure he was safe, away from the gang-related activities he had been involved in, and had a direct bus route to family members.
But JB alleged this went against the council’s 2008 protocol, despite there being a more up to date version from 2011 which made clear bed and breakfast accommodation in itself was not necessarily unsuitable.
The panel heard the social worker, who practiced in the USA for 25 years and had only recently arrived in Knowsley, had not received any direction about the relevant policies and procedures and the training he eventually received was “limited in scope”.
Although the social worker was found to have not made a written record of obtaining verbal consent from another service user to disclose her medical records, the panel concluded this did not amount to a lack of competence.
In a record of the hearing the HCPC stated: “The panel considers that there is no fair sample of [the social worker’s] work to which any pattern of a lack of competence might apply and there is nothing exceptional about the case to justify or require a finding of a lack of competence.”
As a result, the panel found allegations that the social worker was not fit to practice to be not well founded.
However, the council said: “Keeping children and young people safe from harm is a responsibility that Knowsley Council takes extremely seriously. We rightly expect the highest professional standards from our social workers.
“Following a thorough investigation, [the social worker in question] was dismissed from Knowsley Council in February 2013 due to gross misconduct. This remains the case.”