Caution for social worker who breached confidentiality during ‘difficult personal circumstances’

The social worker was found to have looked at the case files of relatives without a reason to do so

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A social worker who breached confidentiality by looking at the case files of relatives without a reason to do so has been cautioned by the Health and Care Professions’ Council (HCPC).

In cautioning the social worker for four years, the disciplinary panel considered that the registrant was experiencing “particularly difficult personal circumstances”.

“The panel accepted that from 2012 onwards, the registrant experienced difficult personal circumstances…

“The panel was mindful that these events do not excuse the registrant’s behaviour but do go some way to explain the underlying cause of her lapse in judgement,” the judgement said.

Her breaches of confidentiality were discovered by her manager, who was checking cases after the social worker advised she was stressed. She found that she had accessed the files of her sister-in-law and her father’s second wife without a reason to do so.


The social worker admitted the allegations and expressed remorse for her failings.

She did not attend the hearing, writing to the HCPC to explain that “based on my experience in going through the disciplinary process that was held by my employer” she could not attend the hearing due to the “emotional impact”.

Despite accepting the mitigating circumstances and the fact the social worker said she was in a better place with her personal circumstances, the panel still concluded the social worker breached data protection and confidentiality, which were “fundamental to the role of a registered social worker”.

It added there was no evidence of harm committed to the two service users and gave the social worker a four-year caution.

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5 Responses to Caution for social worker who breached confidentiality during ‘difficult personal circumstances’

  1. Anonymous May 29, 2018 at 8:27 pm #

    Strike off !! Off,!! Off !!

    What a joke – how lenient can the HCPC be ?

    • Yvonne May 30, 2018 at 5:41 pm #

      Strike off for that????
      No harm caused , gone through disciplinary, mitigating circumstances acknowledged, 4 YEARS caution. Has she not gone though enough?.

  2. Gloworm May 30, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    Once upon a time a matter like this would have been dealt with by the internal disciplinary process only. Perhaps it was.
    If so did it really need to go to the HPC? No wonder social work has difficulty in attracting and retaining staff with such a heavy handed approach

  3. SB May 31, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

    To Anonymous
    Are you or have you ever been a practising social worker who as well as the pressures of work has to face the pressures of life?
    Are you some one who teaches the theories of social work in what ever capacity and believes that” everything has to be done by the book”?
    If your work does not have the stress and pressure that most social workers contend with and your personal circumstances are peaceful and without trauma, then you are a very unique person. I wish I lived in your world, be happy there.

  4. CVP June 10, 2018 at 12:41 am #

    Internal process would have been adequate enough to deal with this sort of matter. HCPC Must learn to tell social work agencies to manage such matters, unless it’s a repeat offender. Secondly, I think four years is just too much.