Social worker sanctioned for failings after ill-health removes self from register

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A social worker suspended by the Health and Care Professions’ Council (HCPC) last year has chosen to leave the profession.

A panel heard and accepted the social worker’s application for a voluntary removal from the social work register in April.

The initial suspension was due to failings in practice accrued after returning from a period of leave due to ill-health.

She had been found to have not met court deadlines and failed to conduct or record visits to children.

During the investigation into her practice, the social worker said her workload had been “too high to manage” and she had been “suffering from various stressors relating to her domestic life”.

Caseload reduced

Her line manager said she had a caseload reduced to six families, with 12 children in total, which mostly involved “a low level of involvement”.

“She said that the registrant had not approached her at any time to raise any concerns about her workload or domestic pressures although she was aware from other sources that domestic issues had placed demands on the registrant’s time.”

Measures had been put in place to assist the social worker, the manager said, which included the ability to work from home occasionally, a reduced amount of time on duty and an allocated social work assistant.

The social worker resigned after the period in question, and the panel decided a suspension order was necessary following her actions putting vulnerable service users at harm.

Voluntary removal

The suspension was extended at a review hearing in late 2017, however after that the registrant contacted HCPC to ask for a voluntary removal from the register.

In communications with the regulator to arrange the hearing, the social worker said she “wants it all to be over”.

She did not attend the voluntary removal hearing, and the panel decided a voluntary removal would be appropriate as it would protect the wider public interest, because it meant the social worker could not return to practice for five years.

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12 Responses to Social worker sanctioned for failings after ill-health removes self from register

  1. DJ May 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm #

    Someone struggles – and then seemingly through lack of support – feels the only option is to leave.

    I wonder how many other social workers could virtually tell this story.

    I know we are not given full facts in the report but these accounts are now becoming more and more frequent…

    • Ed May 2, 2018 at 9:25 am #

      While Social Workers should be supported as much as possible, and to be fair it appears from the information available that in this case the employer made quite a lot of “reasonable adjustments), at the end of the day the protection of vulnerable service users, who were put at increased risk from the the (in)actions of this SW, must trump those of the professional.

    • Ev M'dale May 2, 2018 at 10:44 am #

      I agree. Social workers sometimes appear a lot more vulnerable and voiceless in certain cases, depending on the manager that manages the worker. I think she made the right decision in leaving the profession to probably pay attention to her health. I wish her well.

  2. lisa May 1, 2018 at 8:02 pm #

    Why do we have social workers if they don’t really help a child suffering neglect. Why expect Innocent people to tell the truth or truths when they just choose to ignore them and just make life impossible for those that tell the truth

  3. Peter Ward May 2, 2018 at 6:28 am #

    It seems the sw was struggling e ven with a small case load .Did her employer not take her thru their disciplinary procedures,was she referred to occupational health. Their is a wider point with hcpc when sw are referred to them the sw have very high cas loads.Hcpc never take that into consideration.There is no institutional context Hcpc is letting people down.

    • Siobhan May 2, 2018 at 10:48 am #

      When a (single )mother or farther is trying to do there best by themselves.
      For the love of there children.
      A social worker comes along and creates nothing but stress on the whole family .
      Meeting after meeting after even a few more meetings!
      My feeling is that the ex- social worker,,needs a social worker!
      Then the ex-social worker who thinks they were suffering from stress,,,
      Will know what real stress is .

  4. Sw111 May 2, 2018 at 11:28 am #

    It’s sad to see the appalling and difficult experiences social worker had to go through and ultimately decided to leave the profession. It is essential to see the bigger picture because often when one worker is in the spot light due to lack of competence all the books are thrown at the worker in question and that worker becomes the subject of conversation – not sure what was happening. Support can be meaningful only if it is humane and effective, not tokenisation.
    In situations described above the workers are more potentially vulnerable to office politics, snide remarks and ill treatment – sometimes support offered from management is patronising and it is there to evidence worker’s incompetentency.
    Where was the occupational health, was there any measures to shift the worker to other areas where she could have coped better.
    Everyone is social care is aware how the system operates, seek information and create a situation whereby they will find information that will support the outcome/decision the organisation has already made.
    Management is powerful and they can annihilate workers.
    Social care professes to advocate relationship based practice – where is that?
    This profession is in a mess because organisation and Hcpc are letting the workers down.

  5. MS May 2, 2018 at 4:22 pm #

    The Registrant commenced employment with South Gloucestershire Council in 1992. In May 2015, whilst she was working as a children’s Social Worker, concerns were raised at the Council in regards to a number of performance failures by the Registrant, most notably a continued failure to produce Pathway Plans and undertake statutory visits within the required timescales.
    Between May 2015 and October 2016, the Registrant’s performance was managed on both an informal and formal basis. This included a written warning and a performance management plan. However, the Registrant’s performance did not improve to the required standard..

    A very experienced social worker who was obviously experiencing a challenging personal life. if a local authority find it difficult to support a social worker who has life events that are only human then i wonder how they can support families who are equally experiencing difficult life events!

  6. J Bella May 2, 2018 at 6:32 pm #

    I am concerned a view of 5 years out to protect the public will not improve anything. A social worker struggling, needed time out. Burnout probably the cause. Longer recovery time needed, but information missing on what mental health support she received. The HCPC hearing has taken its toll, and completely worn out by this I am sure has lost all fight. Management can undermine staff and can make superficial gestures, but where is the reflective practice and supervision to have prevented this scenario developing in the first place. Its a sad day, to lose yet another social worker who was probably very capable and ended up in this terrible position. I know she asked to voluntarily remove herself, as the anxiety would be overwhelming I am sure, where is the support for social workers if its not from employers? HCPC are about sanctions not support.
    I know so many workers who failed deadlines. Even national statistics reveal the court dates and completion rates are not all met. I have had workers go off with stress just before the court report is due. Leaving myself and others to complete it. There are bigger problems in the workplace, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  7. Worried May 3, 2018 at 12:07 am #

    About 5 social worker I know are not happy with their job, only got to know after I mentioned to them I got a place in uni to study social work…
    I am now not sure if I made the right decision.. this is all I have always wanted to do..

  8. Suzanne May 3, 2018 at 8:15 am #

    I feel sad for the sw and profession in equal measure it takes years of academic training diligence and dedication to even qualifiy as a sw and agree that the priority is to protect /support the vulnerable. However as a so called caring profession we are not the best in recognising when sw are struggling and need support. We are not aware of the details of this individual case however the management had third party knowledge of sw personal issues therefore should have approached her
    I wish this sw well in the future

  9. Sw111 May 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

    Spot on, the management should have been supportive particularly as personal issues were also in the mix; having to contend with management approach and hcpc can have a huge toll and I wouldn’t be shocked if those exacerbated the worker’s health issues. It is unfortunate, such caring profession can be so uncaring.
    If the management is after you, you are a lost case.