Mr Roger St Elmo Cumberbatch

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW21298

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 11:30 13/08/2018 End: 16:00 13/08/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

 Allegation (found proved):

 

During your employment as a Social Worker for Southwark Council you:

1. In relation to Service User 1, you did not inform a manager that the child had gone missing on or around 8 July 2015.

 

2. In relation to Service User 2, you did not:
a) interview the child to explore whether there were concerns of sexual abuse within the family;
b) undertake and/or record home visits between approximately September 2014 and 16 June 2015;
c) complete a review of the care package;

 

3. In relation to Service User 3, you did not:
a) address concerns raised about the child demonstrating sexualised behaviour in your write up of a home visit undertaken on or around 30 April 2015, or at all;
b) undertake and/or record home visits between approximately 1 May 2015 and August 2015;

 

4. In relation to Service user 4, you did not
a) complete a Child in Need plan;
b) complete a review of the care package;
c) complete adequate records of:
i. the home visit undertaken on 17 November 2014
ii. the home visit undertaken 8 January 2015
iii. the home visit undertaken on or around 7 May 2015
iv. the Team Around the Child meeting on or around 18 June 2015

 

5. In relation to Service User 5, you did not:
a) undertake and/or record home visits between approximately 10 December 2013 and 6 August 2015;
b) contact the family to ascertain whether an updated initial assessment was required in a timely manner;
c) complete the disability registration;
d) set up and/or take steps to arrange the support identified following the initial assessment in December 2013

 

6. In relation to Service User 6, you did not:
a) complete a support plan in time to meet the Court’s filing deadline;
b) arrange a PEP meeting in a timely manner;

 

7. In relation to Service User 7, you did not complete:
a) the initial assessment in a timely manner;
b) the disability registration in a timely manner;

 

8. In relation to Service user 8 you did not complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;

 

9. In relation to Service User 9, you did not complete the:
a) initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
b) disability registration in a timely manner

 

10. In relation to Service user 10, you did not:
a) complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
b) make a referral to an overnight respite centre;
c) undertake and/or record home visits to the family between approximately  September 2014 and August 2015;

 

11. In relation to Service User 11, you did not complete:
a) the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
b) the disability registration in a timely manner;

 

12. In relation to Service User 12, you did not:
a) undertake and/or record home visits to the family between approximately September 2014 and August 2015;
b) complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
c) complete the disability registration in a timely manner;

 

13. In relation to Service User 13, you did not:
a) undertake and/or record home visits to the family between approximately December 2014 and August 2015;
b) complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
c) complete the disability registration;

 

14. In relation to Service User 14, you did not:
a) complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
b) complete the disability registration;

 

15. In relation to Service User 15, you did not:
a) complete the initial/single assessment in a timely manner;
b) complete records in a timely manner for the following:
i. the home visit undertaken on 16 June 2015
ii. the Team Around the Child meeting of 18 June 2015

 

16. In relation to Service User 16, you did not:
a) complete the initial/single assessment with sufficient detail and/or in a timely manner;
b) complete a care package review in a timely manner;
c) record a home visit undertaken on or around 11 June 2015;

 

17. The matters as described in paragraphs 1 - 16 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

18. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

 

 

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Proof of Service


1. The Panel has seen a copy of the Notice of Hearing dated 13 July 2018 which contains all relevant information, a proof of posting and a copy of the certificate of the Registrant’s registered address.

2. The Panel determined that there was good service of the Notice of Hearing dated 13 July 2018 in accordance with the provisions of rule 3 of The Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003, as amended (“the Rules”).

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

3. The Panel heard a submission from Ms Wills, on behalf of the HCPC, to proceed in the absence of the Registrant under rule 11 of the Rules. Ms Wills referred the Panel to the fact that the Registrant has not corresponded, or been in touch, with the HCPC since the substantive hearing, and the Registrant neither attended nor arranged representation at the original hearing. The Notice of Hearing had been returned marked “not known at this address”. She reminded the Panel that it is incumbent on the Registrant to keep his registered address up to date.

4. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice that it must first consider whether it is satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to serve the notice of the hearing. The Panel should take account of the relevant HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”, that there is a public duty on the HCPC to protect the public, and there is public interest in the expeditious hearing of the review of a substantive Order under Article 30.

5. The Panel determined that it was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the hearing. There was a public interest in reviews of substantive Orders being dealt with at the appropriate time and expeditiously. There has been no engagement in these proceedings by the Registrant. The Panel determined that it was unlikely that an adjournment would result in the Registrant’s attendance at a later date.

6. The Panel determined that it was fair, reasonable and appropriate to proceed with this hearing in the absence of the Registrant.


Background:

7. The Registrant is a registered social worker and was employed as a social worker at Southwark Council (“the Council”). He started working at the Council on 14 January 2008 within the Children with Disabilities team. The Children with Disabilities Team works with children who have severe or profound permanent disability and/or life limiting illness. This also required working with the children’s families.

8. Concerns regarding the Registrant were first raised about the Registrant’s work towards the end of 2014. Following a period of support, including formal and informal supervision, and guidance meetings at which the Registrant’s performance was discussed, an investigation was carried out. In July 2015 the Children with Disabilities Team was restructured. Following the restructure, the Registrant’s direct line manager sat next to the Registrant, provided management support, and conducted formal supervision sessions with the Registrant.

9. The substantive hearing panel on 22 to 24 August 2017 was satisfied that the Registrant’s failings from December 2013 to August 2015 in respect of 16 service users, who were all vulnerable children, amounted to misconduct. That panel also determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was thereby impaired on both the personal and public components, and imposed a substantive 12 month Suspension Order and an immediate Interim Order of Suspension.

Decision: 

10. Ms Wills submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and invited the Panel to consider replacing the Suspension Order with a Striking Off order. She summarised the proven allegations against the Registrant, including record-keeping failures and failing to undertake assessments, and the previous panel’s reasoning for its decisions on impairment and sanction.

11. The Registrant has not engaged and has made no representations.

12. As advised by the Legal Assessor, at this review the Panel first considered the issue of current impairment which is a matter for the independent judgement of the Panel. The Panel took account of the principle set out in Abrahaem v GMC [2008] EWHC 183 (Admin) that there is, in practical terms, a persuasive burden at a review hearing for the Registrant to demonstrate that he has “fully acknowledged why past performance was deficient and through insight, application, education, supervision or other achievement sufficiently addressed the past impairments.”

13. The Panel carefully considered all the documentary evidence, the submissions made by Ms Wills, and the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’” as advised by the Legal Assessor.

14. The Panel concluded that, as there was no evidence of any insight or the remedying of the Registrant’s misconduct, indeed a total lack of engagement by the Registrant in the whole proceedings, the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired on both the personal and public components at the current time by reason of his misconduct. The nature of the misconduct needed active remediation by the Registrant before he would be safe to return to unrestricted practice, but the Registrant had not demonstrated any intention to address his proven failings.


15. The Panel took account of the HCPC’s “Indicative Sanctions Policy” (ISP) in determining the appropriate and sufficient restriction in the circumstances of this case. The Panel considered that no lesser sanction than suspension reflected the gravity of the misconduct and the risk posed by the Registrant to the safety of service users and to public confidence in the profession. The Panel determined, however, that suspension would not be a sufficient and appropriate sanction in this case. The Panel considered that paragraph 41 of the ISP applied:

“If the evidence suggests that the registrant will be unable to resolve or remedy his or her failings then striking off may be the more appropriate option...”

16. The Panel determined that a Striking off Order with effect from the expiry of the present Suspension Order was the only proportionate sanction where there has been a complete lack of engagement by the Registrant and applied paragraph 48 of ISP which states:

“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.”

Order

ORDER: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Roger St Elmo Cumberbatch from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Roger St Elmo Cumberbatch

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
13/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
22/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
03/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Hearing has not yet been held