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This is the second review of a Suspension Order imposed on 8 August 2016 which came into effect on 5 September 2016. That suspension order was imposed for a period of 12 months, and was extended at the first review on 4 August 2017 for a period of 9 months.
This order is due to expire on 5 June 2018.
Whilst registered as a Social Worker and during the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Ealing Council:
1) You did not pass on information and/or give handover notes relating to complex cases to your Team Manager prior to taking annual leave which commenced on 20 August 2013;
2) In relation to Service User A, you did not in a timely manner or at all:
a) make adequate records on Frameworki of your conduct of this case between approximately July - August 2013;
b) progress a safeguarding investigation in relation to Service User A's possessions/ property;
c) complete an overview assessment and/or a mental capacity assessment;
d) obtain and / or record on Frameworki a copy of the section 2 document;
e) oversee a "blitz clean" process of Service User's A property to be completed prior his discharge from hospital;
3) In relation to Service User B, after an assessment on or around 5 August 2013 you did not:
a) record any or any adequate follow up actions on Frameworki;
b) undertake and/or complete any or any adequate follow up actions;
4) In relation to Service User C, following an assessment on or around 3rd July 2013 you did not:
a) record any or any adequate follow up actions on Frameworki;
b) take steps to progress this case or record any or any adequate information regarding the progress in this case;
5) In relation to Service User D, after an assessment and visit on 22 July 2013, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the assessment on 22 July 2013;
b) record adequately or at all any follow up action you took as a result of the assessment on 22 July 2013;
c) take any or any appropriate follow up action arising out of your visit on 22 July 2013;
6) In relation to Service User E, whom you visited on 2 August 2013 in order to conduct an assessment, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the assessment;
b) (Not found proved)
c) set up a support plan for the Service User;
7) In relation to Service User F, upon having the case assigned to you, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all any visits that you undertook; (Not found proved)
b) record adequately or at all any other actions that you took in relation to this Service User;
8) In relation to Service User G, whose case was allocated to you on 14 February 2013, you failed to:
a) (Not foundproved)
b) (Not foundproved)
9) In relation to Service User H, you did not:
a) arrange in a timely manner or at all for Service User H to be jointly assessed with the Community Psychiatric Nurse;
b) visit Service User H in a timely manner or at all;
c) keep adequate records;
10) In relation to Service User I, following a home visit on 18 July 2013 you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the follow up actions on this case and/or the outcome of any police investigation;
b) arrange in a timely manner or at all strategy meeting;
c) devise and/or implement an interim protection plan;
d) discuss and/or manage and/or adequately record the management of the self-harm incident on 29 July 2013;
11) In relation to Service User J, after a visit on 5 August 2013, you did not:
a) complete and/or send for authorisation the assessment of Service User J that you undertook; or
b) ensure that this matter was presented to the risk panel before funding ran out;
c) undertake a financial assessment and/or MCA in a timely manner or at all;
12) In relation to Service User K, after the case was assigned to you in August 2013, you did not:
a) complete the assessment;
b) (Not found proved)
13) In relation to Service User L, after an assessment on or around 5 July 2013, you did not:
a) record the assessment on Frameworki in a timely fashion or at all; and/or
b) complete the assessment in a timely fashion;
14) In relation to Service User M, after a visit on 3 July 2013, you did not:
a) undertake any or any appropriate follow up work;
b) complete the assessment in a timely fashion or at all;
c) progress a request for the cash budget;
15) In relation to Service User N, after a visit on 11 July 2013, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the involvement that you had with this case until 29 October 2013;
16) In relation to Service User O, after an assessment on 25 June 2013, you did not complete the assessment document and/or a carer’s assessment in a timely manner or at all;
17) In relation to Service User P, after completing an assessment on 28 June 2013, you did not:
a) produce at all and/or produce an adequate plan;
18) In relation to Service User Q, after a visit on 15 July 2013, you did not:
a) set up a package of care/contact (POC); and/or
b) (Not found proved)
19) In relation to Service User R, you did not:
a) follow up on a safeguarding concern in a timely manner; and/or
b) ensure that an interim protection plan was in place prior to any strategy meeting;
20) The matters described in paragraphs 1 to 19 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence;
21) By reason of your misconduct and / or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
Service of Notice
1. The Panel had sight of information that Notice of today’s hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered address by first class post on 27 March 2018. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and concluded that service had been effected in accordance with Rules 3 and 6 of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).
Proceeding in Absence
2. Ms Rapu on behalf of the Council applied for the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Ms Rapu referred to a letter from the Registrant dated 20 April 2018 which states that he would not be attending today. Ms Rapu submitted that it is in the public interest to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took account of the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s position in his letter dated 20 April 2018 namely that he has decided not to attend the hearing. The Panel decided that he has voluntarily waived his right to attend. The Panel took into account that if it proceeds today, there is likely to be some disadvantage to the Registrant. However, in the context of his voluntary waiver, and weighing up the Registrant’s interests with the public interest, the Panel was satisfied that it is in the public interest and in the interests of justice to proceed expeditiously with the hearing today.
4. The Registrant is a Social Worker. He commenced his employment with Ealing Council (“the Council”) on 18 February 2008 in the Adult Services Team. He worked as a Care Manager in the Acton Older People’s Team (“the Team”). His responsibilities included carrying out and reviewing client and carer assessments in order to establish their needs and then agreeing with the service user (and, where
appropriate, their carers) as to how those needs could best be met. The Registrant’s work included commissioning services, the provision of support and the investigation and management of safeguarding issues to ensure that service users were protected from abuse. He also took part in a duty rota in the team.
5. The Registrant was on annual leave from 20 August 2013 until 9 September 2013. He became ill and was on sick leave from 10 September 2013 until his return to work on 18 October 2013. During the Registrant’s absence the team received a number of enquiries from relatives and carers about progress in the cases of four service users. Subsequently, three complaints were received from relatives and carers about the slow progress of cases. These were passed on to one of the Joint Heads of Older People who directed that managers should review the case records on Frameworki, the client record-keeping system. A subsequent review of 18 cases allocated to the Registrant between June 2013 and August 2013 revealed that a number of cases allocated to the Registrant had not been actioned. In others, assessments had not been completed. Three of the cases involved adult safeguarding issues. The Council’s policy in relation to such matters was that they should be actioned as a priority within three days of allocation.
6. The Council commenced a disciplinary investigation and a disciplinary hearing was convened on 10 April 2014. On 5 March 2014 the matter was referred to the HCPC.
7. The Registrant attended the substantive HCPC hearing which concluded on 8 August 2016. That panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired on the grounds of misconduct and imposed a
12 month Suspension Order. At the first review of that Order on 4 August 2017, which the Registrant also attended, the reviewing Panel concluded that impairment remained and that the Suspension Order should extend to a further 9 months. That Panel stated in its decision as follows:
“A future reviewing panel would expect the Registrant to provide the following:
a) A reflective piece demonstrating that the Registrant has reflected on his failings as identified by the previous panel and has developed meaningful insight on the impact on service users and colleagues;
b) Evidence of training and learning in relation to his failings;
c) Evidence of continuing professional development relevant to social work practise;
d) References and/or testimonials from those who have employed him in either a paid or unpaid capacity. It would be particularly helpful if the Registrant was able to provide such testimonials from those able to comment on his skills relevant to social work.”
8. The Panel heard the submissions of Ms Rapu that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired on the basis that the Registrant presents an ongoing risk of harm to the public, as well as on the basis that a finding of impairment is necessary to uphold the public interest.
9. The Panel took into account the letter from the Registrant dated 20 April 2018 sent for the purposes of today’s review, and which states:
“1. My conscience informs me that it is not ethical for me to write a reflective piece on something I know I did not do, and having to include an apology for it.
2. At this point in time, I’m engaged in interests other than social work, which I will be furthering. The two reasons stated here form the basis for my rationale for not attending the meeting on Friday 27th April 2018. I hasten to express my gratitude to you for the opportunity.”
10. The Panel was aware that it was undertaking a comprehensive review of the Order in light of the current circumstances. It was mindful that it is considering firstly the question of whether the Registrant remains impaired. The Panel was aware that impairment is a matter for its own independent judgment, and took into account the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”.
11. The Panel noted that at the first review, the Registrant’s reflection was assessed as not being “meaningful”, and that his insight was neither “meaningful” nor “well-developed”. Further, the previous reviewing Panel was of the view that he had not sufficiently taken steps to focus learning and development to address the misconduct found proved. The Panel took into account that the Registrant has not fulfilled any of the suggestions of the previous Panel in respect of further evidence
which he might have provided to the Panel today and as a result, is no further forward today with regard to his insight and remediation than he was at the first review hearing. The Panel today, in addition, formed the view from the Registrant’s letter dated 20 April 2018 that the Registrant clearly does not accept the regulatory findings against him, and therefore evidence before the Panel of insight into his failings was absent.
12. As a result, the Panel today was of the view that in the absence of sufficient remediation and the absence of evidence of insight, there remains a real risk of harm to service users and the public.
13. The Panel was also of the view that in light of such an ongoing risk to the public, the need to maintain public confidence in the profession as well as to uphold proper professional standards would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the particular circumstances of this case.
14. The Panel therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
15. The Panel next considered what sanction, if any, should be imposed. Ms Rapu submitted that the matter of sanction is for the decision of the Panel but submitted that no conditions of practice could be formulated which are workable, appropriate and verifiable. Ms Rapu further submitted that only Suspension or a Striking Off Order would maintain public confidence and protect the public.
16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took into account the Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel was aware that sanction is a matter for the Panel’s own independent judgment and that any sanction must be proportionate, and that the purpose of sanction is to uphold the public interest, which includes protection of the public.
17. The Panel first considered taking no action. However, the Panel considered that this was neither proportionate nor appropriate considering the ongoing risk to the public which would not be addressed if there were no restriction on the Registrant’s practice. Nor would such an outcome be sufficient to maintain public confidence. The Panel considered and rejected a Caution Order for the same reasons.
18. As noted by the previous panel the Registrant has not worked as a social worker since 2014 and in his letter dated 20 April 2018 he states “that he is engaged in interests other than social work”. The Panel also noted that in this letter he makes no expression of interest in returning
to the social work profession. When these factors are combined with the Registrant’s lack of activity in responding to the previous panel’s suggestions this leads the current Panel to conclude that a Conditions of Practice Order is neither practicable nor workable.
19. The Panel considered that whilst imposing a further period of suspension would protect the public in the short term it would not uphold the public interest given the Registrant’s stated position. This is on the basis that the Registrant’s written response dated 20 April 2018 confirms his unwillingness to remedy his failings. He has not addressed any of the issues required to be addressed by the previous reviewing Panel, nor has he expressed any commitment to developing his social work knowledge and skills in a tangible way. The Panel also notes that this failure is despite having two Suspension Orders imposed in the past.
20. The Panel was therefore of the view that the only proportionate Order sufficient to protect the public and maintain the public interest is a Striking Off Order. In this regard, the Panel considered para. 48 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy which states as follows:
“Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public, for example, where there is a lack of insight, continuing problems or denial. A registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate.”
21. The Panel is of the view that there is a lack of insight shown by the Registrant, clear denial of wrongdoing, and an unwillingness to remediate.
22. The Panel did consider the effect a Striking Off Order will have on the Registrant, namely removing his right to practise, and considered proportionality. However, in light of the position taken by the Registrant and the lack of evidence of insight and remediation, the Panel was satisfied that the need to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession outweighed the Registrant’s interests.
23. The Panel therefore decided to impose a Striking Off Order.
That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr David Lodda from the Register on the date that this Order comes into effect.
The Order imposed today will apply from 5 June 2018.