High Court dismisses social worker’s bid to overturn HCPC suspension

A social worker has lost her appeal against a HCPC panel's decision to suspend her from the register for persistently late reports and assessments

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The High Court has rejected a social worker’s bid to have her suspension from the social work register overturned.

A Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) conduct panel suspended the social worker from the register for 9 months in March 2016 for persistently failing to produce court reports and assessments on time while working as a case manager at Nottingham City Youth Offending Team between 2009 and 2012.

The panel found the social worker failed to produce reports and assessments on time despite management support and intervention because she was unwilling to change how she worked and regarded paperwork as inherently less important than her direct work with young offenders.

The social worker appealed to the court against her suspension on the grounds that the panel had “no proper basis” to reach the factual conclusions it did based on the evidence it had and that the sanction it imposed was excessive.

The court, however, rejected the social worker’s various objections to the panel’s interpretation of the evidence.

No knockout blow

One of these objections was that the panel’s conclusions on two allegations against her were contrary to the evidence given by two witnesses. But judge HHJ David Cooke dismissed this claim.

“It is right to say that there were points at which the witnesses partially accepted points put to them from [the registrant’s] submissions, but the thrust of their evidence was clearly such as to support the allegations found proved,” he ruled.

Judge HHJ David Cooke concluded that there was nothing in the evidence the social worker submitted that “deals a knockout blow to any of the evidence against her”.

The court also sided with the HCPC panel on the question of whether a nine-month suspension was a disproportionate sanction given that no harm had been caused by her practice failings, a suspension would prevent her continuing professional development and no issues had been raised about her work subsequent to leaving the youth offending team.

Limited insight

The court noted that while the social worker acknowledged her practice faults, the limited insight she displayed and lack of evidence of a change in her attitude meant it was appropriate for the panel to impose a sanction that would “sufficiently bring home to her the seriousness of the faults found”.

Cooke agreed with the panel that a caution would not be enough and that imposing conditions on the social worker’s practice was unlikely to deliver change given that management intervention had not had the desired effect.

As such the court concluded that a suspension could not be regarded as excessive and dismissed the social worker’s appeal.

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9 Responses to High Court dismisses social worker’s bid to overturn HCPC suspension

  1. Leon Summerfield October 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I am a student studying Social Work. And this is another incidence it seems of government surveillance and authoritarianism. Social workers who don’t ‘ fall in line’ are hung drawn and quartered. And there heads out upon a pole as deterrent and warning to others.
    Social workers are well aware of the constraints put upon social workers, case loads, computer work, when what they want to do is do what social with its all about working with the vulnerable and marginalised in society. Why aren’t social workers fighting for this? Making their voices heard? Send to me the majority are being ‘good’and well behaved minions of the state, and keeping their heads down.
    What about the people she worked with the service users. Where was there voice? Did she do commendable work with them? For all social worker talk about involving service users and hearing their voice I do not hear it here!
    Sure there may of be problems with practice in the sense of paperwork not being put in on time. But where is supervision? where is management? Are they not partly to blame in this. The Munro report talked about responsibilites being shared. But here we go again. With a single individual being scapegoated. Social workers. I may not have Ali the’ facts’ here to hand. But this scenario points up a lot of issues in Social work. That social work is not addressing.

    • Daisy October 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm #

      You answered your question yourself, social workers who speak up are then marginalised, bullied, and hung, drawn and quartered. The rest keep their heads down. The worst ones agree with management, get promoted and thus the cycle continues.

  2. Alex October 26, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    HCPC are way too inconsistent in their approach and outcomes in such hearings. The sooner we do away with that body the better.

  3. Dave October 26, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

    More heavy handed management intervention….. where is the balance,compassion and consistency. it appears that whether or not you end up before the HCPC is worse than a post code lottery! It all depends on the approach if your local manager and there appears to be no bench marking against national practice leaving each practitioner to fight there own corner. where is BASW or the union’s in speaking up against this madness and defending the profession.It appears to me that after 30 years in the profession we are all just one error of judgement away from being struck off. it is impossible to practice social work without making mistakes so our practice should be looked at over a period of time and not on one off mistakes. the amount if bullying from managers has reached biblical proportions and if you disagree with them your cards are marked

  4. Stuart October 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    It’s a bit tricky squaring ‘lack of evidence of change in her attitude’ with ‘no issues raised about her work subsequently to leaving the Offenders Team’.

    And if she worked satisfactorily in subsequent employment why does she need suspending? How does that help anyone other than the vindictive instincts of HCPC people who feel the need to be seen to be tough on social workers so they can claim the government should have left social work regulation in their hands?

    There are too many unanswered questions here.

  5. Jenny Eckersley October 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    Yes, where IS Baswa, nowadays?

    • Thomas hardy October 31, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

      Collecting our money and producing a monthly magazine full of twaddle

  6. mm October 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

    Just another reason not to be a social worker…so sad.

  7. mm October 31, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Reflecting this case further, I suspect the entire social work profession is guilty of missing deadlines attributed by high and complex cases. Perhaps HCPC would like to suspend all of us!!