Social worker who lacked computer skills given third suspension by the HCPC

The panel found he lacked "basic skills" on how to use a computer

A social worker who lacked basic computer skills and was verbally abusive towards his line manager has been handed a further suspension by the HCPC.

The social worker had his first suspension handed down in 2014, and in the third review of his order held last month, the panel found his fitness to practice was still impaired.

The social worker, who qualified in 2010 and took a job in an Initial Contact Team 2012, was found to have lacked “basic skills” on how to use a computer.

“[He] also displayed a lack of knowledge of statutory processes in relation to the welfare of children and was unable to apply children’s safeguarding legislation and policy to the referrals he received,” the panel concluded.

It added: “The ability to use a computer is a core skill of the social worker and is crucial to safeguarding. [The social worker] lacked the basic skills in such computer use.”


The social worker had been given initial and further training on the council’s CareFirst computer system, as well as support and a mentor. However his manager at the time said it was “obvious” he was struggling.

“He wasn’t able to look at the manual or retain information about how to use the system,” the HCPC panel heard. The manager was told by the trainer the social worker didn’t have any computer skills “and therefore has no concept of using an IT system”.

“His comprehension abilities were far from what I would expect of a qualified social worker,” the panel heard, and it concluded that, following intensive training, no further training would have made a difference.

The panel also found the social worker did not accept any of the failings identified. His role was to receive referrals and telephone calls, record information, act upon the information received and make recommendations.

In 2012, incidents where his practice was found to lack competence included failing to understand the verbal and written instructions given to him, being unable to communicate effectively with people calling the service and failing to respond “in any way” to a safeguarding enquiry about a 10 year old.

Verbally aggressive

It was also found that, when the team manager held a supervision session with the social worker, he “acted in a verbally aggressive and abusive manner”.

He had yelled, pointed his finger at her and was becoming increasingly agitated.

“I decided to ask somebody to come into the room, because I didn’t feel that it was safe for me to continue on my own,” the manager said.

Verbal abuse was classified as misconduct by the panel, while the inability to use the CareFirst computer system and manage safeguarding enquiries was classed as a lack of competence.

The social worker was suspended after that hearing in 2014, and again in 2015 despite submitting a reflective statement. In the most recent review of his suspension, the registrant made no submission, but the panel said he had not done enough to rectify his failings.

The panel said it “lacked detail” and “did not acknowledge any recognition of wrongdoing or failure on his part, or express any remorse”. A social worker cannot be struck off due to a lack of competence unless they have been continuously suspended for two years, and the panel decided that the striking him off for misconduct would have been disproportionate. As a result, the panel decided to suspend him from practicing for a further year.

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8 Responses to Social worker who lacked computer skills given third suspension by the HCPC

  1. Beth June 8, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    I am absolutely bemused as to which course this social worker was qualified from! When i qualified in 2003 computer skills was an integral part of the course and i could not have progressed past the first year without passing the module.

    I am not a fan of ICS as I see many failing authorities who have very cumbersome systems that hammer social work and sometimes feel that they faster you can type you are judged to be a better worker.

    However that aside we do need the basic skills.

  2. Peter Endersby June 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    Why is this social worker still practising how many chances will he get, two years is too long you’re not given that in education? This charade just seems to be prolonging the inevitable.

  3. Prof. Martinjay June 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    Shocking! If he has no insight into his own conduct should he still be registered?

  4. Catsonparade June 9, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    Yes I agree with Beth, I qualified in 2009 and computer skills were integral to the successful completion of the course. Therefore I am puzzled about this story. I thought it was about a social worker who qualified in the 70s until I read the article!

  5. Rozenn Cossec June 10, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    Indeed how could this social worker even carry out course work such as writing essay and do research!

  6. Paul June 10, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    I am amazed..what placements did he do? I cannot imagine how he passed with poor safeguarding knowledge and IT skills. Carefirst is perhaps the most basic system out there.

  7. Sharon Clark June 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    The concern I have here is not only related to his IT skills, lack of self refection, aggressive behaviour in the office, attitude to females but also his inability to comprehend information. Surely this is one of the main skills a Social Worker should have in order to perform their duties.

    Did this issue come up in his placements, how did he pass his course with this attitude?

    I consider a suspension is not really dealing with the issue here and this leaves the worker able to practice in the future with possible consequences for the public and the profession.

    In addition if he is suspended and still employed by the L.A. is he still getting paid? If so what a waste of public money.

  8. Andrea June 13, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    did he qualify in the UK?
    did he write his own essays ?
    did his aggressive attitude go unchecked at his education institute through fear?