Social worker suspended following domestic dispute is struck off

Suspended social worker's failure to engage with HCPC or provide evidence of insight prompts removal from the social work register

A social worker suspended from practice for three years following two domestic disputes has been struck off following a review hearing by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

The former Durham County Council social worker was subject to a HCPC conduct hearing in November 2013 after police were called to her home on two occasions in 2011 due to drunken altercations between her and her then partner.

On one of these occasions, the conduct panel found that the social worker was obstructive and verbally abusive to the police, and gave false information to officers.

Although the social worker told the panel she was a victim of domestic violence and fearful of reprisals from her partner, the HCPC panel felt her dishonesty and lack of insight into how her behaviour could damage the reputation of social work amounted to misconduct.

As a result the panel imposed a 12-month suspension order on the social worker.

Suspension extended

The suspension was extended for another 12 months in November 2014 and for another year in November 2015 after review hearings decided there was not enough evidence that her fitness to practise was no longer impaired.

The latest review hearing, held on 9 November without the registrant present, noted that the social worker had not been in contact with the HCPC since October 2015 or responded to communications about the latest review hearing.

This was despite the 2014 and 2015 review hearings suggesting ways the registrant could demonstrate insight or remediation.

Given her failure to engage with the HCPC the panel felt it had no but to conclude that the social worker’s fitness to practise remained impaired, leaving it with a choice of either extending the suspension for a fourth year or striking off the registrant.

No evidence

The panel noted that suspensions should be used for serious allegations that are “unlikely to be repeated” but since it had no evidence to the contrary it could not be sure if such behaviour was unlikely to happen again. On these grounds the panel decided that extending the social worker’s suspension was “no longer the appropriate and proportionate response”.

The panel, therefore, decided to remove the social worker from the social work register.

“Although the panel had no information as to the registrant’s current situation, it acknowledged that such an order would be likely to have a serious impact upon her if she wished to return to practise,” the panel said. “However, the panel determined that the interests of protecting the public and upholding confidence in the profession outweighed the interests of the registrant.”

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35 Responses to Social worker suspended following domestic dispute is struck off

  1. Ben Glass November 22, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    The professional in question really had left the panel with no option.

    Hopefully she will reflect on her choices and go on to her use her life positively.

  2. Andrew Foster November 23, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Ben, I am sure that she will have nothing but appreciation for your wholly patronising comments. Hey ho.

    • bignev November 23, 2016 at 11:09 am #

      With you Andrew, very patronising, must leave a faultless life. Yet again HCPC governing how you live your life. If it’s affecting your work -fair doos, but did it ?

      • Ben Glass November 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

        So the professional in question was struck off for her choices, yes or no?

        If you want to make trolling comments at me that’s your choice, but perhaps you could stick to the topic being discussed?

        • Stuart November 23, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

          This IS the topic being discussed. I rather suspect you don’t know what choices she exercised and what ”choices” were not available to her.
          As long as she was suspended the public were not at risk from anything she might do as a social worker so didn’t need ‘protection’ from her. The justification for striking her off is therefore the one of ‘upholding [public] confidence’ but the public aren’t interested in the subtleties of suspension vs. striking off so as far as I can see it’s the HCPC’s own reputation that it’s trying to protect. The profession, being composed of supposedly caring people, should care more about it’s own members in their time of difficulty than you, Ben, or the HCPC seem to do. I hope you never need colleagues’ support.

        • Jodie November 24, 2016 at 9:51 am #

          Well the original issues were not entirely her choice, no. Especially if she is/was a victim of domestic abuse. And if you don’t understand that I hope you’re not in the profession as it very much sounds like victim blaming.

        • Airstrip Won November 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

          Being pulled up – legitimately as it happens – for being both patronising and ill-informed, doesn’t constitute trolling. An example of the t-word being trotted out once again as a cheap ad hominem swipe at someone who expresses disagreement. Anyway, back on topic. .

          • Ben Glass November 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

            Ok then ‘back on topic’: do you think the striking off order was a consequence of the registrant’s behaviour? I’d be interested to know why you might think otherwise.

            I’m curious as to why you feel my original post was ‘patronising and ill-informed’.

  3. Andrew November 23, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    I hope your personal life stands up to perfection when it is scrutinised Ben, and that you don’t show this level of empathy to your service users.

  4. Lorna Fitzpatrick November 23, 2016 at 10:54 am #

    This looks like victim blaming:

    “Although the social worker told the panel she was a victim of domestic violence and fearful of reprisals from her partner, the HCPC panel felt her dishonesty and lack of insight into how her behaviour”

    Who decided she was “dishonest” and why?

    • Lydia November 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

      It says that she obstructed the police and lied to them….

  5. Maharg November 23, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Has community care suddenly turned into red top newspaper, shock horror Daily Mail.
    No in-depth analysing of the situation, no facts other than an outcome which justifies the story.

    Most of us realise that if we do not behave in a way or in the manner we may be subject to investigation, but do we really needed promoted.

    • Airstrip Won November 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

      No, it happened by stealth. CC has been morphing into the social work equivalent of a tabloid for some time now. We can’t blame it for that, it needs the advertising revenue. Just don’t make the mistake of believing it’s a public service.

  6. sabine November 23, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    So she gets punished even more for being a victim of domestic abuse. Maybe hcpc need to go on some training about domestic abuse. And if she did not stay in contact with the regulator, who can really blame her, if she repeatedly meets with the same attitude.

    • Ben Glass November 23, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

      1) what evidence – apart from her own statement – is their of her being ‘a victim of domestic abuse’?

      2) she hasn’t been ‘punished’; she’s lost the privilege of being a registered care professional. The key word here being ‘privilege’ – no one has a given right to be in a position of professional responsibility. She’s entirely at liberty to apply for roles within the care sector that carry less status and power.

      • SG November 24, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

        I agree with some of your comments Ben but as an IDVA the fact that you feel that she needs to provide evidence of being a victim of domestic abuse is sad, misguided and the reason why so many victims don’t come forward. There is often NO evidence of domestic abuse due to the insidious and manipulative behaviour of the perpetrator.

        • Ben Glass November 24, 2016 at 11:08 pm #

          Oh, where did I say the registrant needs to provide evidence of being a DA victim?

          I hope you don’t put words into others mouths in your role as an IDVA.

          • SG November 25, 2016 at 9:21 am #

            Oh dear, I’m sorry you seem to have forgotten what you wrote. Here’s a reminder: “what evidence – apart from her own statement – is their of her being ‘a victim of domestic abuse’?”

            By the way, it should be there, not ‘their’. It’s equally worrying that you don’t know that.

          • Ben Glass November 29, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

            Wow SG.

    • Augustus November 23, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

      Fair comment. Only the professional in question should expect consequences

    • Stuart November 23, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

      Quite agree. Can only hope she has friends & (former) colleagues giving support – more than I think some here would give.

  7. chrissie November 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    I wouldn’t want a social worker who lied to police and was abusive to them and then didn’t take up the recommendations of the professional organisation she belongs to – I can’t believe other professionals would either. If it were a question of domestic abuse the panel and everyone else would be sympathetic but 2 years of ignoring the conditions is crackers

    • Stuart November 23, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

      I never blindly believe everything a police officer tells me any more than I believe every social worker never tells lies, never gets drunk or never gets abused.

      Not having been there at the time I have no views on what happened when the police visited the worker’s home but I think we all know it could easily take her plenty more than 2 years to get out of a situation of domestic abuse and back into one where she can be bothered about the HCPC.

      Anyone who can’t see that could maybe do with a little more humility and a little more awareness of how lucky they are to not be in that situation. Unless they’re programmed to never believe the victim of course, then it’s rather more serious.

    • Hels November 24, 2016 at 6:30 am #

      Recommendations are simply that are they not, recommendations !!!

  8. Andy Davies November 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    The matter has been long standing and she didn’t turn up to the hearing what were they supposed to do?

    • Stuart November 23, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

      Well they suspended her originally so that must mean they thought the offence was unlikely to be repeated so what’s changed? Nothing I can see except the passage of time which, in the light of no information about repeated offending, would surely suggest further reduction in any likelihood of re-offending. So why did they have to do anything?

      • Ben Glass November 24, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

        You don’t appear to understand how suspensions work Stuart.

  9. Faye November 23, 2016 at 10:59 pm #

    Wow – this is why people don’t report stuff.

  10. Pancho November 24, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    It was an over the top response in the first place. Maybe she thought the dice were loaded against her and couldn’t see the point.

  11. Andrew Foster November 24, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    Ben, just a couple of things….and also bignev, if you are remotely interested.
    Ben, I conclude from your response that you simply have no understanding of the word ‘trolling’ and that secondly, you totally missed the point that I was endeavouring to make. No ‘trolling’ remark was made on my part. Rather, just imagine how you might have felt if you had been the subject of this particular disciplinary action. I suspect that you would not have taken kindly to a complete stranger making the patronising comment that “hopefully she would reflect on her choices and go on to live her life positively”. You do not even know the woman. You do not know the detail of the case. So, please do not patronise others. This is one of the sentimental and loaded behaviours that continue to blight the social care profession, implying that “you know best”. Clearly you do not.
    Lastly, bignev, thank you for generously reflecting that indeed I must have led a faultless life.

  12. Ola November 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    I think Stuart has started a good argument!!

    It is amazing what is expected of us as Social Workers; we are expected to be super human, have the resilience of a hippo and don’t forget, as professionals were are not expected to be victims of Domestic Violence……

    HCPC – I know there is probably a lot more to this than has been revealed. Nonetheless, Domestic Abuse is what it is and affects people in various ways.

    Please, please and please reconsider this ladies position. Now things are going to get even worse for this lady, as she will not be able to work and more than likely end up on benefits, get into debt and not to mention the worst case scenario – become homeless!!

  13. Amy November 26, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    Perpetrators reading this will be rubbing their hands together. They have been given even more power. You can imagine them saying to their abuser, a social worker, ‘go on then, you call the police, and you see what happens’ it’s disgusting, the people sitting on their chairs who came to this decision should be ashamed of themselves. What next?… mental health professionals struck off for having a mental illness???

  14. Airstrip Won November 27, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    Ben Glass, I don’t disagree that social workers should take responsibility for their actions, and accept the consequences when their behaviour falls short of professional standards. I remember this case caused similar controversy following previous hearings. I say ‘patronising’ because your original comment is plainly that, even if sincerely meant. Unless you were being sarcastic?

    And I say ‘ill-informed’ because none of us really know enough to comment on the specifics of the case. However, given the outcome, some basic human empathy would probably be the most appropriate response.

    Best just let it go.

    • Ben Glass November 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      Indeed. Best you do.

  15. Mikey November 30, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    Interesting comments. As an outsider (a nurse) our governing body is not nearly strict enough. In this case, one should feel some compassion for someone who is a victim of domestic violence (if they say they are, they are). The body obviously felt some truth in the police allegations and presumably for it to matter, there was an associated conviction. In that scenario restricted practice seems fair and affords the professional time to get themselves sorted out. For it to continue beyond a year, one would suspect there was still an issue but we do not know what. For her to fail to respond presumably she has decided the writing was on the wall or had found another job and wanted to put two fingers up to the establishment (as I would like to do if I were brave enough). As she did not engage or turn up, the writing was unfortunately on the wall but hopefully she is better off now out of ‘that’ relationship and the one with the professional body.