Social worker struck off for fraud offences involving ‘vulnerable service’ users

HCPC panel finds practitioner “undermined” her position of trust and brought the profession into “disrepute” after lying about needs assessments

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A social worker who inflated the care requirements of two “vulnerable services users” for personal gain deprived them of “the appropriate level of care”, a HCPC panel has heard.

The social worker, who was convicted of two counts of fraud in October 2017, was removed from the register after the panel ruled her convictions were “fundamentally incompatible with ongoing registration”.

The panel also cited the social worker’s lack of “remorse or remediation” as a contributing factor behind its decision to strike her name from the register.

False assessments

While employed as a locum social worker, the panel heard how the practitioner personally benefited from inflating the care requirements of two elderly services users on her caseload.

She did this by assessing the service users as having needs “over and above” those which they required, according to the hearing.

The social worker and her partner then rented a property and sub-let it to the same service users, who made payments to the couple. She failed to make the council aware of these arrangements.

On 20 November 2015, the practitioner was arrested for fraud by abuse of position and was convicted of this and two other counts of fraud two years later.

She was sentenced to prison in November 2017.

‘Sophisticated offence’

When making its decision, the panel considered the judgment of Mark Bryant-Heron QC, who described the social worker’s conduct as “a sophisticated offence with significant planning”.

It concluded the social worker had caused the service users “actual harm” and deprived them of an “appropriate level of care”.

The panel added that the social worker had purposely “targeted two particularly vulnerable service users” and “undermined her position of trust” as a social worker to gain financial benefit and had, consequently, brought the profession into “disrepute”.

It was also highlighted that the social worker’s ‘not guilty’ plea demonstrated “no evidence of remorse or remediation”.

The social worker breached three standards in total.

‘Serious abuse of trust’

Despite considering alternative sanctions, the panel decided the social worker’s actions were serious enough to warrant her name being struck off the register.

“The registrant’s conduct involved a serious abuse of trust as part of a sophisticated offence with significant planning over a sustained period of time, targeting two particularly vulnerable service users and abusing scarce public resources,” it said.

“The panel is of the view that the nature of the registrant’s convictions are such that they are fundamentally incompatible with ongoing registration.”

One Response to Social worker struck off for fraud offences involving ‘vulnerable service’ users

  1. Lucy August 16, 2018 at 10:14 pm #

    I was shocked at how cold, callus, calculated, deceptive, and dishonest this criminal act was, which was also one of the worst cases of clear professional misconduct I have read recently. This time the HCPC got it right (for once) and the Social Worker had truly deserved and earned her striking off sanction. I hope the victim can one day regain their trust in the profession, and I am truly sorry they went through this; they and we deserve better.