Manager sanctioned over failure to properly support ‘struggling’ NQSW

A fitness to practise panel issued a caution after finding the manager failed to make sure an assessment had been carried out

A social work manager has been sanctioned by the HCPC after failing to properly support an inexperienced colleague in a case which was later subject to a serious case review.

A fitness to practise panel cautioned the manager after finding he failed to make sure the newly qualified social worker had carried out an initial assessment for an 11-year-old boy and checked that a medical appointment for the boy was kept.

The panel also considered fitness to practise allegations regarding the frontline social worker but found these were not sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct.

In reaching its decisions, the panel heard that the team had “very high caseloads” and was experiencing “clashes” with senior management at the council at the time.

The manager said he was new to his role and had received limited support. He argued it was the social worker’s responsibility to carry out the assessment and check the boy’s medical appointment was kept.

But the panel concluded the manager had “overall responsibility” to make sure actions were carried out, particularly given the social worker was newly qualified and “struggling with an unrealistic caseload”. It said the manager should have supervised the social worker more regularly.

“Had he done so, this would potentially have identified much earlier that the initial assessment had not been completed,” the panel said.

It added: “He sought to blame a lack of supervision, a lack of experience and the fact that others were involved, including a junior social worker, to avoid accepting his own responsibility. He has demonstrated insufficient insight to allay the panel’s fears of a risk of repetition.”

The panel made a caution order against the manager as he was not “directly responsible” for the day-to-day handling of the case. His lack of “thorough oversight” contributed to failings identified in the serious case review but he “was by no means solely responsible” for the harm suffered by the child, it added.

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6 Responses to Manager sanctioned over failure to properly support ‘struggling’ NQSW

  1. lucy April 19, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

    This is a terribly sad situation all round, however my heart and sympathies lay here with the Frontline NQSW, as what a terrible situation to be put in by being given a complex case where clearly they were out of their depth, and lacked the experience to hold the case. Imagine coming into this field from another, and having that happen, however they should not have been put into that position in the first place.

    It was also terribly bad on the part of the team manager to try and absolve himself of all responsibility when at the end of the day he should have been closely managing and supporting his staff. It actually makes me wonder why team managers think once they have their position they should not be responsible for anything that goes wrong; as this is the common thinking of a lot of management across the board – they need to be held fully accountable, or else don’t be a manager!!

    However, this is part of a more complex problem which I am currently experiencing at present, and it gets done to the sheer volume and workload a social worker is expected to manage, which is not realistic or achievable. Things are more likely to go seriously wrong when the workload is so chronic and chaotic that you are overwhelmed and cannot keep your hand in at a minimum level.

    I started my child protection social work career in 1998, and have only done child protection, however I have decided for my own health, sanity, and work/life balance, I need to leave the field, so I am making plans to leave when I finish my post later this year.

    I think social workers need to make the decision not to work in chaotic boroughs as when this goes wrong the responsibility / blame is ultimately placed unfairly on the social worker, and therefore this is a risk people take to work in a place which pays more but is not fit for purpose.

    Until central government decides to invest in funding more social workers in the child protection and mental health field, we will all be ‘used up for free labour’, then ‘burnt out’ and thrown away.

    Its not worth it, am I know I am making the right decision – the money will need ever give you back you peace of mind, mental health, – life!!!!!

    Hope more of you CP social worker’s see the light and leave the field!!!!


  2. Kadie April 20, 2017 at 3:10 am #

    I feel sadden but also frustrated, for I feel this happens more often than published. Maybe the impact is not as great, but when is not the direct result is harm to a client not a great impact? Through experience I have experienced overwhelming caseloads with little to no supervision. In addition, when due to the almost unmanageable caseload, and someone or something falls through the cracks no responsiblility is on the manager/supervisor. However had we had the supervision or staffing that week, that month, ever! it would have been avoided or corrected. Furthermore in my experience it is typically a non identified supervisor (social worker) who carries the burden and responsibility of a supervisor without the title or benefits. We typically carry immense responsibilities with no authority and clashes in the divide between management and the social workers cause for a even more disoriented work environment. Which in this field is the last thing we need. Self care is not really supported by those that need to support it and encourage it.

  3. Rosaline April 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm #

    This is a reassuring situation, manager is held to account for the role, they did or did not play for the delivery of social work practice.

  4. Margaret April 20, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

    Only sanctioned? And full of excuses – this is Professional misconduct and has yet again the manager stays in post even though he felt his defence was the NQSW not doing his/her job properly. What a dreadful manager!! Why am I not surprised. Managers have a cloak of immunity in the laughable proceedings.

    I have seen managers abuse physically emotionally and vocally good Social Workers. I have witnessed s snr manager physically assault a Social Worker and push her out the door and to the gravel path. HCPC “no case to answer’ the sw ripped apart

    I agree get the hell out of child protection

  5. Harold Mellor April 24, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    I cant believe we are still allowing this to happen, in light of voting in this government for another 4 years….what mugs are we!!!!

    This will not allow ourselves to protect children, and of course its not there fault they are in this situation but the goverment forget this when we provide services to them and families.

    my social work degree isnt worth the paper its wrote on.

    another ex-qualified social worker rather go and work in tesco.

  6. Nicole April 27, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Wow very strong views here, we all know there is not enough funding to do anything in the UK and no matter how you look at case loads, child protection there is never anything positive things to say. We all fail to remember the children’s lives we do save and there are some damn good social workers out there. However, managers are becoming managers without the hard core experience and due to high caseloads it’s easy to bursh things under the carpet. NQSW’s I believe should enter an academy where the start of their careers are based on intense supervision and training to prevent things like this happening. Unfortunately only some boroughs are offering them. Think about the situation there’s always going to be SCR even with experience social workers therefore, managers also need to be supervised as well as other social workers and NQ because ultimately if it’s not practiced from right at the top how can things be right as u go down the pyramid. My heart goes out to that NQSW and that little boy who lost his life.