A social worker who “repeatedly” cut and paste information from old records without checking if it was still accurate has been removed from the register.
A Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) hearing found that the practitioner, who worked with vulnerable patients at a mental health trust in Cambridgeshire, failed to maintain up to date records and, on multiple occasions, copied information from assessments that had been made years ago – up to three years in some cases.
The panel concluded the registrant had shown a “disregard for whether the information was accurate” and put other members of staff, including medical colleagues, at risk when assisting individuals.
Accurate information was required for continuous assessment of service users and their support network.
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Adjudicators also found that the social worker did not make regular home visits to service users, creating a risk that their care plans “were no longer relevant and appropriate”.
In one case, the registrant failed to visit a service user for two years prior to their death.
“It would not be possible to know if service users were receiving the correct care packages or whether their health and social care needs were being met,” the report said.
False mileage claims amounting to over £350 were also identified by the panel, which found the practitioner had falsely expensed over 1,000 miles.
Vulnerable individual not visited
In November 2016, a service user on the registrant’s caseload, Service User C, died. This triggered an initial management report, which concluded they had died of natural causes.
But the report highlighted a “worrying lack of visits” from the social worker, who had not seen Service User C for two years prior to their death.
It was further suggested that the registrant “had not been checking or updating progress reports”, that he “had cut and pasted old information” from previous reports and care plans and had failed to fully complete risk assessments.
Additional scrutiny by the practitioner’s team manager, PH, found that the registrant had “not undertaken regular home visits” to a number of service users.
When he did visit service users, it was said the registrant “did not maintain accurate and up-to-date records” and updated records without verifying information.
An investigation into the travel expenses claimed by the registrant for visits to Service User C over a period of ten months was also conducted.
It indicated that the registrant had been submitting “excessive mileage claims”, in one case claiming 21 miles for a trip that should have been ten.
Identical crisis plans
In one incident, the panel examined two crisis plans for Service User C completed by the registrant, finding they were “identical” despite being “three years apart”.
“It appeared that the registrant had simply re-dated the previous plan. There was no evidence that the plan had been updated”, the panel said.
The later crisis plan, completed in 2016, also contained an old warning message, informing practitioners that a new electronic system had been installed and that they should review the information.
The panel concluded that this meant the social worker had not reviewed or updated the file since June 2013 when systems were migrated.
Brief risk assessments
The same was found of two risk assessments for Service User C completed by the social worker, which were “identical” and “three years apart”. They too contained a warning message, indicating the information had not been reviewed in years.
The panel added that both assessments were “extremely brief”, with exclamation marks appearing where information should have been.
The registrant was also found to have copied notes made by a nurse, CS, in another service user’s records.
According to the panel, the notes were “largely copied and pasted” from CS’s assessment, with the technique being replicated in several other documents for several other service users.
Out-of-date information was also used by the registrant when updating records in relation to prescribed medication.
A record from June 2016, containing information about current medicine, appeared to have been copied and pasted from a previous recorded, dated October 2014.
It added that update medical information from Service A’s doctor in March 2016 had not been inputted into the core assessment three months later.
Professionals put ‘at risk’
The panel said that “repeatedly” cutting and pasting information meant that it would not be possible for the registrant or the council to know if service users were receiving the correct care or whether their health and social care needs were being met.
It was also noted that other support staff who would have relied on the information when making decision about patients’ care would have been “put at risk”.
“If the system records were not up to date, staff would be undertaking visits without the relevant information which could put them at risk and/or could result in them not being aware that the mental health of the Service User was deteriorating,” the panel concluded.
False mileage claims
The panel concluded that the registrant made “significantly more mileage claims” than visits record in his diary.
Records examined by the panel showed that the social worker had claimed for a trip to Yaxley, when there was no service user located at Yaxley.
Calculations showed that the registrant had overclaimed by 1,111 miles at a value of £366.35.
The social worker claimed he was not aware of having made inappropriate claims and that he did not realise that “you had to be that precise”, denying the allegations.
The panel said that the registrant had submitted mileage claims for journeys which “were not in connection with his work”, adding it could not have been a mistake due to the fact that they were repeated over a 10-month period.