Mrs Joyce Evelyn McConlough

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW54500

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 11:30 23/08/2018 End: 23:00 22/08/2018

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 12 August 2016:


During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Liverpool City Council:
1) On or around 13 February 2014, in relation to an assessment in accordance with section 47 of the Children Act 1989, you:
a) Did not meet with Child A;
b) Recorded on Liverpool City Council case management system that you had spoken with Child A to obtain her views when you had not.
2) Your actions as set out in paragraph 1 b) were dishonest. 
3) The matters set out in paragraphs 1-2 constitute misconduct.
4) By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.


At the substantive hearing the Panel found particulars 1a), 1b) and 2 of the Allegation proved. That Panel went on to find the proven particulars amounted to misconduct and the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired. A Suspension Order for a period of 12 months was imposed as a sanction.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters:
Service of the Notice of Hearing:
1. There was before the Panel a Notice of Hearing letter from the HCPC, dated 14 August 2018, sent to the Registrant at her registered address informing her of the details of today’s hearing.
2. The Panel was therefore satisfied that Notice had been served in accordance with the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003.
Proceeding in the Registrant’s absence:
3. Ms Dudrah, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application that the Panel should proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
4. In reaching its decision the Panel had in mind the HCPTS Practice Note ““Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”. It considered all the information before it together with the submissions of Ms Dudrah. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
5. Although the Registrant had engaged with the HCPC at an early stage and took some steps to enter into a voluntary removal agreement she has not engaged in regard to today’s review.
6. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is aware of today’s hearing; she has not applied for an adjournment and has made no written submissions to the Panel. The Panel has concluded that she has waived her right to attend. It is satisfied that it is in the public interest to deal with this mandatory review expeditiously.  It has therefore determined to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. 
Background:
7. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. On 11-12 August 2016 a Panel at a substantive hearing found facts proved as set out above, and that they amounted to misconduct. The Panel concluded as follows:
“The absence of the Registrant and her disengagement from the process means that the Panel has little evidence of insight on the part of the Registrant into her misconduct nor any evidence of remediation.
In the absence of any such evidence, the Panel cannot be certain that the Registrant has taken any action in relation to her misconduct and the Panel could not be assured that she does not pose a risk to the Public or may in future bring the profession into disrepute.
The Panel also considers that dishonesty on the part of a Registrant is particularly serious, regardless of whether it results in harm to service users. The Panel determined that in these circumstances, failure to make a finding of impairment would undermine the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession.”
8. That Panel imposed a 12 month Suspension Order.
9. On 11 August 2017, at the first review, the reviewing Panel found that in the light of the Registrant’s failure to engage with the regulatory process and the absence of any evidence of insight or remediation, her fitness to practise remained impaired.
10. At the second review on 08 February 2018, the reviewing Panel found that although, in her email submissions of February 2018, the Registrant had demonstrated a degree of insight, there was no indication that she had taken steps to remedy her misconduct. Furthermore, she had said that she had no intention to return to practise as a Social Worker. That Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired in that she posed a risk of harm to service users and that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.
At the review hearing today:
11. At today’s review hearing, despite previous panel’s suggestion of matters which would assist a Panel at review, there was no further information from the Registrant. It has therefore concluded that her circumstances remain as they were in February 2018, namely that she has no intention to return to practise as a Social Worker.
Decision on Impairment:
12. Ms Dudrah submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and that there has been no change in her circumstances since the last review.
13. The Panel considered all the information before it together with the submissions of Ms Dudrah. It had in mind the HCPTS Guidance entitled “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that it is reviewing the question of whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired in the light of all the current circumstances, and that impairment is a matter for its independent judgment. 
14. The Panel has concluded that, in the absence of any further information from the Registrant, her fitness to practise remains impaired.
Decision on Sanction:
15. In her submissions Ms Dudrah said that although the Panel may consider extending the period of suspension, a Striking Off Order was within its power.
16. In reaching its decision, the Panel considered all the information before it together with the submissions of Ms Dudrah. It had in mind the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy and was aware that sanction must be proportionate and that its purpose is to uphold the public interest and to protect the public.  It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
17. The Panel first considered making no order. However, the nature of the misconduct was so serious that to allow the Registrant to practise unrestricted would not address the public protection concerns.  Moreover, the wider public interest, including the maintenance of public confidence in the profession, would not be addressed. Misconduct of this nature demands a sanction. The Panel discounted a Caution Order for the same reasons. 
18. The Panel then considered a Conditions of Practice Order but concluded that this would not be appropriate in the light of the Registrant’s repeated indications that she no longer wishes to practise as a Social Worker.
19. The Panel next considered whether to extend the Suspension Order. The misconduct occurred as long ago as 2014 and the Registrant has not practised as a Social Worker since then. She has indicated that she no longer has any commitment to Social Work practice and there has been no recent engagement. She failed to complete the voluntary removal application which she had requested despite frequent reminders from the HCPC. Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that she has maintained her knowledge. In the circumstances a further period of suspension would serve no useful purpose.
20. The Panel has therefore concluded that the only appropriate, proportionate and sufficient sanction is that of a Striking Off order. Only this order would adequately protect the public and address the wider public interest.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Joyce Evelyn McConlough from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.


The order imposed today will apply from the expiry of the current order of suspension, namely 09 September 2018.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Joyce Evelyn McConlough

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
23/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
08/02/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
11/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
11/08/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended