Social worker struck off after failings left vulnerable children at risk

A HCPC panel found the social worker's failings had "potentially serious" consequences

A social worker has been struck off for “a disregard for basic and fundamental social work principles with the potential for serious harm”.

The social worker, who worked for Cafcass, was found to not have completed reports to an adequate standard, failed to complete tasks in a timely manner, and on two occasions failed to make child protection referrals to children’s services.

As a result, the cases of vulnerable service users were left open to “potentially serious” consequences.

She gave a written defence where she said that a restructure had meant “there were unrealistic caseloads”, there was a lack of support given to her disability, which the panel did not disclose the details of because it felt it would have interfered with her right to a private life, and there was bullying and micromanagement.

Did not fully engage

The Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) panel rejected the claims. The social worker had a caseload half the size of her colleagues, and the heavy involvement of colleagues in her work was “out of necessity” due to the standard of it, the panel said.

The panel also found: “There was a reluctance on the part of the registrant to use the services that had been made available to her for her to manage the disability.”

“The panel found that the registrant chose not to fully engage with the training, support and reasonable adjustments made for her. There was evidence that she could undertake tasks competently but she failed to manage her time effectively and failed to undertake key parts of her role,” it said.

The panel added: “[It] was of the view that the registrant had wilfully chosen not to avail herself of assistance. She did not use supervision effectively and did not manage her own health condition properly.”

Limited improvements

The social worker had 20 years’ experience, but concerns over her practice began during an absence for sick leave, where an audit of her caseload “identified a number of shortcomings in her report writing, case planning and safeguarding knowledge”.

The decision was made to have the social worker subject to an informal supervision action plan to assist her back to work.

“There was evidence that the registrant could engage when she chose to. She made some limited improvements although she could not explain how she did so and the limited improvements were not maintained. She was thus able but unwilling to deal with a manageable caseload effectively,” the panel found.

A striking off order was judged necessary because it reflected “the seriousness of a case in which the interests of vulnerable service users were compromised”.

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