Cautioned social worker claims manager ‘deliberately mis-stated the truth’

Social worker who left a notebook containing confidential information at a service user’s home said manager tried to cover up her failure to take timely action

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Photo: WestEnd61/Rex Shuttershock

By Lauren Brown

A social worker cautioned for leaving a notebook with confidential information at a client’s house and not recovering it quickly enough said his manager tried to “cover up her failure” in her account of the incident.

A Health and Care Professions’ Council (HCPC) panel heard allegations that the social worker told his manager the notebook, which remained at a service user’s house for five days, did not contain confidential information, when it did.

The social worker denied accusations of dishonesty. He stated: “I am very clear in my mind that I had informed my manager I was not sure what information was in the book as I hadn’t used it for some time. I knew there was direct work with children but I didn’t know precisely what else was in it.”

His claims were corroborated by a second supervisor, who the social worker informed after his manager.

The social worker told the panel his manager had “deliberately mis-stated the truth to cover up her failure to take timely action” after he told her about the notepad.

He was “upset” by the allegation of dishonesty, and he wasn’t aware of the allegation until the HCPC got in touch. A reference given by the employer after the incident raised “no concerns” about his integrity.

‘No concerns regarding integrity’

The panel decided claims of dishonesty could not be proved and dropped the allegation adding that there were no concerns regarding his integrity. It said it was “not so satisfied” his manager’s account was correct.

His supervisor said: “I was surprised to hear that [he] had been accused of lying… I do believe that [he] did exactly the right thing at the time in reporting the loss.”

He also disputed his manager’s statement that he referred to drawings in the notebook as “doodles”. He told the panel “he did not and never would describe the children’s drawings as “doodles””.

The social worker also faced accusations of failing to recover the notepad in a timely manner after not going back to get it for five days.

The manager said the registrant “should have gone back to retrieve the notepad immediately”, He admitted this allegation, and told the panel: “[I] didn’t see it as a priority…I was blasé, naive and preoccupied with other things. The whole thing is a huge jolt [to me].”

The social worker was given a one-year caution as his actions had compromised the confidentiality of service users, which amounted to misconduct. The panel noted this was a single incident in a 30-year career, and he had worked as a social worker without issue since the incident. It concluded the failing was unlikely to be repeated by the social worker.

12 Responses to Cautioned social worker claims manager ‘deliberately mis-stated the truth’

  1. Cha April 6, 2018 at 9:33 pm #

    It is unacceptable to refer a professional to a registered body without their knowledge, further concern is the reference identified no concerns. The managers behaviours shoukd have been considered and decided, particularly as the practitioner had corroboration from another manager. Feeling disappointed at the imbalance.

  2. Anne-Marie April 7, 2018 at 10:08 am #

    What a nasty manager. Obviously out to get him. There are too many like this in social work. I expect the social worker involved will change jobs now and the 30 years experience will be lost to that weak local authority which just sat by and allowed it.

  3. Disillusioned April 7, 2018 at 8:15 pm #

    30 years service and this is how the worker is treated. Couldn’t this have been dealt with in house, by senior management. Bullying incompetent managers. I am
    Please I am coming to the end of my career, I fear for young people coming into the job.

  4. Sw111 April 9, 2018 at 9:49 am #

    Yet again we find the punitive and aggressive approach of the management which fails to follow the procedure, shift blame on the worker and even though the claims of the manager is not substantiated, nothing happens to the manager. What action did HCPC take in respect of the manager. Unfortunately in social care, particularly children services, the management is acting in a punitive and extremely aggressive manner and they use their power to penalise the workers for whatever issues the management may have against the worker. In such a state of affairs when the management is not fulfilling their obligations of being supportive, social care will continue to be an arena for managers to use their position to control – that is an abuse of power. Social care will not reach the status of a professionalism it has been striving so hard to obtain and this is the reason where the systemic practice is not geared towards welfare promotion of anyone except self interest of the managers.

  5. Andy M April 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

    Either the manager misled the HCPC enquiry, or they provided a false reference for the SW – strikes me that either is appropriate to be considered by HCPC if the manager did both. If not then at the very least this information should be relayed to OFSTED to be followed up in the next inspection.

  6. tcm April 9, 2018 at 12:38 pm #

    30 Years unblemished practice ?
    The Manager is not sanctioned?
    Case reported to hcpc and the SW did not know?
    The LA should be named and shamed.

    No wonder so many are leaving the profession?

    Alas, another out of touch LA?

    • Paula April 11, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

      Quite shocking. I do expect this would have been dealt with in house first by way of disciplinary but we wont know that. It is clearly a disproportionate response.
      I also expect after the findings in this ‘outing’ the LA will have little choice but to deal with the line manager in question. Damage has been done now…

    • ria April 12, 2018 at 3:27 pm #

      unfortunately this is happening all over! incompetent & inexperienced managers feeling threatened by good strong SW’s then having a personal vendetta against them when they are challenged for their poor decision making! there is an increasing culture of victimisation, bullying, harassment & intimidation by management that is driving away & traumatising very experienced SW’s from the profession!

  7. Sw111 April 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm #

    Manager’s actions should be investigated for professional misconduct – the social worker who had unblemished record should put forward a complaint against that manager.
    The morale of this profession is so low simply because of these managers (who are supported by LA) and this is going to destroy social care.

  8. Carol April 9, 2018 at 11:13 pm #

    I would leave immediately
    Its the only profession that I know can get aaway with this behaviour from managers. He was unaware he had been reported to the Hcpc? Sly move, unprofessional and in my view a bullying tactic. Disgrace!

  9. Robert Barry April 12, 2018 at 3:21 am #

    The social Worker one hopes has spent the last 30 years promoting the general wellbeing of children and families in difficulties and clearly has not been supported by his management. Who is promoting the general well-being off social workers . This is an example of systemic abuse.

  10. Kelly April 23, 2018 at 6:49 pm #

    I have witnessed the victimisation and bullying of social workers within my team by managers who do not give one iota about the emotional effect it has on staff as they know they can get away with it. I have seen colleagues crumble under this treatment and one by one experienced workers have made their escape some leaving the profession altogether. Social work is a soul destroying job. The impact on your sanity is incredible. and no job is worth that. I am planning my exit.