Mrs Jeanette Hamer

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW91433

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 03/08/2018 End: 12:00 03/08/2018

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:

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 7-14 February 2017.

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Northamptonshire County Council between 2006 and July 2014;

1. You practised as a Social Worker while not registered with the appropriate Social Work Regulator from 2006 until 8 February 2013.

2. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User A, and you;

a) Did not visit him in a timely manner after you became aware that Service User A had placed a ligature around his neck with a view to ending his life;

b) Did not inform and / or seek the advice of your manager once you became aware of the immediate risks to his safety and welfare;

c) Did not seek advice and/or support from line management;

d) Did not conduct and/or seek to arrange for a risk assessment to be undertaken;

e) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

3. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User B, and you;

a) Did not take any or any appropriate steps to identify whether an alternative placement would be suitable for Service User A in accordance with the recommendations made at a Looked After Child (LAC) review in April 2013;

b) Did not undertake and / or record LAC statutory visits to Service User B in a timely way or at all between 18 February 2013 and 4 July 2013;

c) Scheduled a PEP meeting during school hours;
 
d) Did not discuss with Service User B the incident regarding his brother’s (Service User A’s) use of a ligature to ascertain how Service User B had been affected by this.

4. Between 8 February 2013 and 10 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User C, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) [not proved]

c) [not proved]

d) Did not record a Health Assessment on the case file;

e) [not proved]

f) [not proved]

g) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

5. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User D, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales

b) [withdrawn]

c) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System;

6. Between 8 February 2013 and 15 October 2013 you were responsible for Service Users E and F, and you;

a) Did not take appropriate or any action in light of the risk factors in these cases;

b) [not proved]

c) [not proved]

d) [not proved]

e) [not proved]
 
7. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User G, and you;

a) [not proved]

b) Did not take appropriate and/or agreed action in a timely manner.

8. From 8 February 2013 you were responsible for Service User H, and you did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System, in that:

a) [not proved]

b) you did not record on Care First in a timely way or at all statutory visits that you had undertaken.

9. Between 8 February 2013 and 17 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User I, and you;

a) Did not complete and / or record a Pathway Plan in an adequate and/or timely manner;

b) Did not provide adequate support and/or planning to Service User I and his carers;

c) [not proved]

10. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User J, and you:

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) [not proved]

c) Did not complete and / or record a Chronology on the case file;

d) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

11. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User K, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Did not complete actions from a previous Review;
 
c) Did not address a risk issue in relation to a previous assessment;

d) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

12. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User L, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Did not update Service User L’s care plan.

13. From 8 February 2013, you were responsible for Service User M, and you did not visit Service User M on a regular basis.

14. From 8 February 2013 you inappropriately kept confidential information in relation to around 36 Service Users outside of the office.

15. The matters set out in paragraphs 1- 14 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel heard representations from Ms Simpson on behalf of the HCPC who submitted that good service has been effected. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

2. The Panel was satisfied that the notice of hearing (amended) dated 4 July 2018, which was in the proper format, was sent on that date to the Registrant at her registered address by first class post in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”). The Panel therefore found good service.

Proceeding in Absence


3. The Panel decided that all reasonable steps had been taken to serve the notice of hearing under Rule 6(1) of the Rules for the purposes of Rule 11, which allows a Panel to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

4. Ms Simpson submitted that, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement with the proceedings and subsequent review hearing, the Panel should proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to the case of R v Jones [2002] UKHL 5 and R v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162. The Panel also took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence.

5. The Panel was aware that the discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel took into account the potential disadvantage to the Registrant if it proceeds today but took into account that the Registrant did not attend the substantive hearing in February 2017 or the review hearing in August 2017 and had not made a request for an adjournment. The Panel concluded that there was no indication that the Registrant would attend at a future date if today’s hearing is adjourned. The Panel took into account the public interest in proceeding with this mandatory review and concluded that it was in the interests of justice to proceed to review the substantive order expeditiously, in light of the public protection and public interest issues raised by this case.

6. The Panel therefore decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

7. The Registrant was employed by the Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) from 1986 and began to work as a Social Worker for NCC in 2006. Around October 2013 concerns were raised about the Registrant’s work, and audits of cases allocated to her were carried out. NCC undertook a disciplinary investigation into the Registrant’s work. The concerns about the Registrant’s work gave rise to an allegation brought by the HCPC which was heard at a substantive hearing before a Conduct and Competence Committee on 7-10 and 13-14 February 2017.

8. The panel at the substantive hearing found the following facts proved: 1, 2(a)-(e), 3(a)-(d), 4(a), 4(d), 4(g), 4(h), 5(a), 5(c), 6(a), 7(b), 8(b), 9(a), 9(b), 10(a), 10(c), 10(d), 11(a)-(d), 12(a)-(b), 13 and 14.

9. That panel decided that the facts found proved were sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct and determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. As a result, that panel imposed a suspension order for a period of 6 months by way of sanction. That panel also observed that a panel reviewing the sanction would be likely to be assisted by a reflective analysis written by the Registrant of the substantive panel’s findings.

10. The six months suspension order imposed on 14 February 2017 was reviewed at a substantive review hearing before the Conduct and Competence Committee on 10 August 2017. That panel decided to extend the Suspension Order for a period of 12 months to take effect on the expiry of the initial 6 months suspension order for reasons of public protection and the wider public interest. That panel also observed that a panel reviewing the sanction would be likely to be assisted by:

i. the Registrant’s engagement with these proceedings as well as attendance at the next hearing;

ii. the steps the Registrant has taken by way of remediation;

iii. a reflective piece written by the Registrant demonstrating her insight and remorse into the misconduct found and what she has learned since and what she would do differently in the future;

iv. any references or testimonials from any employment, whether paid or unpaid.

11. The Panel today is conducting a review of the 12 months suspension order which was imposed on 10 August 2017, which took effect on 14 September 2017.

Decision

12. The Panel heard from Ms Simpson who submitted that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, and in the context of no engagement from the Registrant, her fitness to practise currently remains impaired. With regard to sanction, Ms Simpson invited the Panel to consider a Striking Off Order in the light of the Registrant’s lack of engagement. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to the case of CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin). The Panel also took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”.

13. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The Panel was aware that the issue of impairment is a matter for its independent professional judgment, taking into account all of the circumstances before it. The Panel firstly took into account the reasons for the finding of impairment of the previous Panel. The Registrant has not engaged with the regulatory process, and has not provided any evidence of reflection, insight or remediation. In the light of the absence of such evidence, and having considered the case of Grant, the Panel concluded that the Registrant is still liable to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the future, and that there remains a real risk of repetition of the misconduct in particulars 2-14 of the allegation. The Panel was also of the view that the wider public interest was important in this case, particularly in the light of the Registrant’s continuing lack of engagement with her regulator; the need to uphold professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. The Panel therefore concluded the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

14. With regard to sanction, the Panel was aware that this was also a matter for its independent professional judgment, and that while taking into account the interference with the Registrant’s ability to work, the public interest should be at the forefront of its thinking, which includes protection of the public as well as wider public interest. The aim of sanction is not punitive.

15. The Panel first considered whether allowing the existing order to expire without any further sanction would be appropriate. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s misconduct is too serious for no further sanction and that such a decision would fail to provide sufficient protection of the public.

16. Next the Panel considered a Caution Order. Again, it concluded that the seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct and the need to protect the public made this sanction inappropriate.

17. The Panel then considered a Conditions of Practice Order and concluded that this would similarly not be appropriate. The Panel accepted that the Registrant’s failings are in principle capable of being addressed but noted that in the absence of any information about the Registrant’s current work it would not be possible to set out appropriate conditions. The Panel observed that the Registrant had now been given two opportunities with clear action plans for remediation and return to practice but had chosen not to take either opportunity. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s lack of engagement with these regulatory proceedings and the minimal insight, remorse and remediation she showed when interviewed by her employer, demonstrated that she would be unlikely to comply with conditions. The Panel was also of the view that Conditions of Practice would not adequately protect vulnerable service users.

18. The Panel gave careful consideration to imposing a further period of suspension on the Registrant but decided that such a sanction was now, effectively, redundant. The Registrant has been given ample opportunity to remediate and has chosen not to engage with the regulatory process at all. The Panel concluded that a further period of suspension with a further action plan for the Registrant would not produce any engagement from her or a better outcome.

19. The Panel finally examined the option of making a Striking Off Order and decided that this was the only proportionate sanction in the circumstances of this case. The Registrant’s misconduct was serious and despite several opportunities to remediate, she had chosen not to engage with the regulatory process. The Panel noted the ‘powerful mitigating factors’ taken into account by the original panel and its observation that that a striking off order was ‘disproportionate…the failings were neither reckless nor calculated and a striking off order would not give recognition to the very important context of the misconduct…’ However, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had been given a reasonable length of time (18 months) to recognise and seek ways to redress her misconduct and pursue a route back to social work should she wish to.

20. The Panel’s decision was, therefore, to impose a Striking Off Order on the expiry of the current suspension order. This was on the basis of public protection and to uphold the wider public interest.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mrs Jeanette Hamer from on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

 

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Jeanette Hamer

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
10/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
07/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended