Mr Antony Kenneth Lawso House

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW26978

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 11:30 26/04/2018 End: 16:00 26/04/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the Substantive Hearing on 30 October – 3 November 2017.

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker in the Youth Offenders Team at Nottinghamshire County Council, you:

1 Did not complete Risk Assessments, Court Documents and/or Review Reports in timely fashion, in that:

a. In relation to Service User 29, you were asked at a Risk Strategy Meeting on 24 June 2015 to amend the Core Assessment and Risk documents but did not present the completed amendments until 2 July 2015;

b. In relation to Service User 16, a Pre Sentence Report you were asked by the court to complete by 5 August 2015 was not made ready for signing off until 14 August 2015;

c. In relation to Service User 31, you completed your referral for reparation on 12 June 2015, outside the 10 day timescale set by the Initial Referral Panel on 18 May 2015;

d. In relation to Service User 30, a Pre Sentence Report was requested by the Court on 20 July 2015 for a hearing date 6 August 2015 but your competed report was not submitted until an adjourned hearing date of 26 August 2015.

2 Did not complete Risk Assessments and reports appropriately and/or did not complete Risk Assessments and reports at all, in that:

a. In relation to Service User 28, you did not provide risk review information for a Risk Strategy Meeting to be held on 8 June 2015;

b. In relation to Service User 33, your assessment was presented to your manager on 22 July 2015 for the Assessment Panel on 28 July 2015 but you had not interviewed Service User 33 and you had not obtained relevant information from the Police.

c. In relation to Service User 32, you did not record safety and well-being information for Service User 32, an adolescent, his adult girlfriend or her two children for eight weeks from the referral date.

3 You did not meet with your service users at appropriate intervals and/or did not record those meetings, in that:

a. In relation to Service User 31, the risk indication was for "intensive" contact (minimum x2 contacts per week) but you did not meet Service User 31 in three weeks;

b. Not proved c. In relation to Service User 32, you did not record any meetings or contacts in an eight week period from the referral order date.

4 You did not act in response to non-compliance situations, in that:

a. In a case discussion meeting on 3 August 2015 you were instructed to take "Breach Action" against service user 29 in court if he failed to engage but you did not do so;

b. When Service User 30 re-offended and/or breached a Statutory Order, you were instructed to take "Breach Action" proceedings in Court on 28 July 2015 but you did not do so until the following week;

c. In relation to Service User 28, you did not reschedule the Risk Strategy Meeting review for eight weeks.

The Panel at the Substantive Hearing found particulars 1(a-d), 2(a-c), 3(a), 3(c) and 4 (a-c) proved and that they amounted to a lack of competence.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was satisfied that Notice of today’s hearing had been served on the Registrant at his home address in accordance with Rule 3 of the Health Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003.

Proceeding in absence

2. The Registrant did not appear nor was he represented. He had not attended the original final hearing on 30 October 2017–3 November 2017.

3. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Wills applied for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that the Registrant had been notified of the date, time and location of the hearing at his registered address. Ms Wills submitted that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.

4. Having considered the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162 (“the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations against medical practitioners is of real importance”), the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable notice of today’s hearing. The Panel exercised its discretion to proceed with the utmost care and caution. In reaching a decision, the Panel noted the history of non-engagement by the Registrant with the HCPC regulatory process. Additionally, the Registrant had not applied for an adjournment, nor is there any indication that he would attend at a later date if today’s hearing were to be adjourned. The Panel noted the overriding public interest in dealing with matters in a timely manner and that this was a mandatory review. In balancing the Registrant’s interest and the public interest, the Panel decided that the matter should be heard in the absence of the Registrant.

Background

5. The background to this review may be summarised as follows: The Registrant was employed by Nottinghamshire County Council on 24 October 2009. In 2013, following structural change, the Registrant was moved into one of the Youth Offending Teams as a Band B Youth Justice Service Senior Case Manager dealing with young people between the ages of 10 and 18 who had either been dealt with by the criminal courts or were at risk of offending. The majority of this work involved statutory interventions. As soon as the Registrant moved into the Youth Offending Team, concerns arose which were highlighted by his line manager, who then managed a capability process. The Registrant submitted his notice of resignation on 11 September 2015.

6. The Registrant did not appear and nor was he represented before the Conduct and Competence Committee of the HCPC at a final hearing in 2017. At that hearing the Panel heard from the Registrant’s line manager. The Panel found that the evidence revealed a systemic failure to comply with deadlines and record-keeping. This was despite the support with which he had been provided during the capability process.

7. The Panel at that hearing concluded that whilst the Registrant’s lack of competence was, in theory, capable of remediation, the Registrant had provided the Panel with no evidence of remediation or current insight. He had not expressed remorse for his actions, despite their adverse consequences for service users. He had not demonstrated that he had taken responsibility for his actions or shown awareness of the impact of his failings. Whilst the Registrant had admitted in his submission to the performance review hearing that his record-keeping had been, at times, lacking, he did not seem to understand the importance of this, which was of concern to the Panel, particularly in the context of safeguarding. It was the judgement of the Panel that there was insufficient evidence with which to reassure the Panel that there would be no repetition of the Registrant’s behaviour in the future if the Registrant were to be permitted to return to practice unrestricted and that the Registrant would present a risk to service users. Further, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had brought his profession into disrepute through the delivery of services that did not meet the standard that the public had the right to expect. The Panel concluded that there was reputational damage from the Registrant’s failure to keep court deadlines and to keep adequate records. In those circumstances the Panel found the Registrant’s current fitness to practise to be impaired on the grounds of public protection and also on the grounds of the wider public interest.

8. The Panel determined that the appropriate sanction was a Suspension Order for 6 months. The case was too serious for any lesser order.

This review hearing

9. This is the first review of the Suspension Order. In reaching its decision, the Panel has had regard to the relevant documentary evidence and the submissions made on behalf of the HCPC. The Registrant has not engaged and there has been no information provided by him since the Final Hearing.

10. Ms Wills reminded the Panel of the history of the case and of their powers as to extending, continuing, varying or revoking the Order or imposing another Order. She submitted that the Registrant’s current fitness to practise was still impaired. She said the clear pattern of behaviour and lack of insight meant there was a likelihood of repetition and noted that there was no evidence of any efforts by the Registrant to take the steps recommended by the panel at the Final Hearing. On behalf of the HCPC, she stated that seriousness of the concerns and absence of wider remediation meant that any lesser sanction than a Suspension Order would be insufficient.

Decision

11. A substantive review is a two-stage process. The first task of the Panel is to decide whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired and if so, to then consider what, if any, sanction should be imposed upon his registration. In reaching its decision, the Panel has considered all the relevant material and had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

12. The Panel is mindful that the purpose of this hearing is to conduct a thorough appraisal of the Registrant’s current fitness to practise, including an assessment of future risk, and that this was not a rehearing of the original case.

13. The Registrant has not practised since 11 September 2015. Given that nothing appears to have changed since the substantive hearing, the reality is that the Registrant’s skills will have further declined since that date. The deficiencies as identified by the Substantive Hearing Panel were wide-ranging and systemic. In all the circumstances, the Panel is driven to the conclusion that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired today. Moreover, the Panel considered that a finding of impairment remains necessary in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

Sanction

14. It is clear that the nature of the conduct was too serious to make no order or to impose a Caution Order and neither would provide sufficient public protection. A Conditions of Practice Order was neither workable nor verifiable without engagement or insight on the part of the Registrant and there was none.

15. The Panel therefore concluded that an extension of the current Suspension Order for a period of 6 months was the necessary and proportionate measure to ensure public protection and to maintain public confidence in the profession.

16. The duration of the extension provides adequate time for the Registrant to engage, if he chooses, and to complete courses and continued professional development to remediate and develop relevant skills and / or provide evidence from related fields of work (paid or unpaid) to demonstrate his skills have improved.

17. The Panel was not able to consider the sanction of Striking Off, because this was a lack of competence case and two years had not elapsed since the operational date of the Suspension Order.

18. A Review Panel would be assisted by:

a. Evidence that the Registrant has engaged with the HCPC;

b. The attendance of the Registrant at the next review, either in person or by telephone;

c. A reflection document from the Registrant, showing insight and remediation, by addressing the deficiencies in his practice as identified by the findings of the substantive hearing panel such as:

i. Demonstrating an understanding of the importance of prompt and accurate record-keeping;

ii. Demonstrating an understanding of the reasons for frequency of meetings with Service Users;

iii. Demonstrating an understanding of the importance of keeping to deadlines;

iv. Demonstrating an ability to manage and assess risk.

d. Any other evidence the Registrant wishes to provide;

e. Certificates from any training courses the Registrant completes.

19. In providing the matters above, the Panel is not seeking to fetter the discretion of a future reviewing Panel, but to provide the Registrant with clear guidance as to what would assist him at a review hearing.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Antony Kenneth Lawson House for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 1 June 2018.

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Antony Kenneth Lawso House

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
26/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
30/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended