Miss Leonie Parry

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW109305

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 18/12/2018 End: 17:00 21/12/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

Allegation (as amended on Day 1 of the substantive hearing, 18 December 2018, amendments shown in bold or struck through text):

Whilst registered and during the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Achieving for Children, you:

1)In relation to Child A, did not:

a)Attend Child in Need meetings on 10 May 2016 and 15 June 2016.


b)On 14 and 19 April 2016 and 13 and 24 May 2016, respond to the telephone and/or email messages of Person A.


2)On or around 12 July 2016, did not attend a Child in Need meeting in relation to Children B and C.

3)Between 6 and 27 September 2016, did not visit and/or did not record visiting Child D, who was subject to a Child Protection plan.

4)On 21 October 2016, recorded on Child E’s case notes on the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) that you visited the mother of Child E, when you had not.

5)On 11 November 2016, told your Line Manager that you had visited the father of Child F, when you had not.

6)In relation to Child G, you:

a)On 7 October 2016, Recorded on Family 3’s case notes on the ICS, that you had visited the home of Child G on 7 October 2016, when you had not.


b)On 13 October 2016, Recorded on the ICS that you had visited Child G on 13 October 2016, when you had not.


c)On 14 November 2016, Recorded on the ICS, that you had arranged a Child in Need meeting for 14 November 2016, when you had not.

7)The matters set out at paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 constitute dishonesty.

8)The matters described at paragraph 7 constitute misconduct.

9)The matters described at paragraphs 1 to 6 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

 

Finding

Preliminary matters

Notice and Service

1.The Panel was satisfied that the Notice of Hearing sent to the Registrant’s registered address with the HCPC by registered post on 18 September 2018 was good service in terms of the relevant rules.   The Panel also noted that an email has also been sent to the Registrant.

Application to Proceed in Absence

2.Mr Dite sought that the hearing proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He advised the Panel that the Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC at any stage and that the case papers sent to her at her registered address had been returned marked “not called for”.  She had made no contact with the solicitors instructed by the HCPC, despite requests from them to do so, and Mr Dite advised that since leaving her employment as a Social Worker on 23 November 2016 she had not been contactable by her former employer or by the HCPC. 

3.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that, if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel had the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. The Legal Assessor referred to the case of Adeogba v GMC [2016] EWCA Civ 162 which makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been taken to serve the Registrant with notice. Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied on notice, the discretion whether or not to proceed must be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware, with fairness to the Registrant being a prime consideration, but with fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public also considered.  

4.The Panel was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the hearing and is satisfied that the Registrant is aware of the hearing.  In deciding whether to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into consideration the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant. The Panel weighed its responsibility for public protection and the expeditious disposal of the case with the Registrant’s right to a fair hearing.

5.In reaching its decision the Panel took into account that the Registrant has not made an application to adjourn today’s hearing and she has not engaged with the process or responded to the HCPC at any stage.  There is a public interest that this matter proceed expeditiously.

6.The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself from the hearing. It weighed the public interest for expedition in cases against the Registrant’s own interest, bearing in mind the requirement for fairness.  This is a serious allegation and there is nothing to suggest that postponing the hearing would result in the Registrant attending.  In all the circumstances, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
Application by HCPC to amend the Allegation

7.Mr Dite for the HCPC made an application to amend the allegation. He submitted that these were minor amendments which made the allegation clearer and more specific, and were largely grammatical.  He explained the proposed amendments and submitted that these were fair in the circumstances. There had been no objection from the Registrant despite most of the proposed amendments being sent to her on 22 February 2018.

8.The Panel took the advice of the Legal Assessor who reminded it about fairness and the interests of justice.  It should consider whether the proposed changes alter the nature, scope or gravity of the allegation and whether any prejudice to the Registrant arises.

9.The Panel concluded that the proposed amendments did not change the character, scope or gravity of the allegation. They seek to clarify matters and are largely grammatical. The amendments were not prejudicial to the Registrant. The Panel decided to grant the application to amend as it was fair and in the interests of justice to do so.

Application for AO to take evidence by video link

10.Mr Dite explained to the Panel the availability of the second witness, witness AO.  She is pregnant and has some difficulty attending.  Mr Dite explained that her evidence is fairly short and speaks only to Child G and it is confined to the material in a note made of a meeting with the Registrant on the 16 November 2016, which is in in the bundle.

11.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who reminded it of its powers as to case management, the HCPC Practice Note on Case Management and the need to consider fairness and proportionality in proceedings.

12.The Panel considered the extent of the witness’s evidence and concluded that the witness could be appropriately and fairly questioned via video link and that it was expedient to do so. It accordingly granted the application to take the evidence of witness AO by video link.

Background

13.The Registrant was employed in the Child Protection Team (also referred to as the ‘Achieving for Children' Child Protection Team) at Kingston Council (“the Council”) between 8 September 2014 and 23 November 2016.  She was initially employed as a student as part of the Frontline programme and then in September 2015 she transitioned into a social worker role under the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (‘ASYE’) programme.

14.JT was the Registrant’s Team Manager from April 2016 and her direct Line Manager from April to August 2016. In June and July 2016 JT received emails and telephone calls from colleagues, including external professionals, raising issues with the Registrant’s management of the cases of Child A and Child B & C. On 5 August 2016 JT implemented a Performance Improvement Plan (‘PIP’) that he had created for the Registrant.

15.In September 2016, in his capacity as Team Manager, JT became aware that the Registrant had not been visiting Child D, who was on a Child Protection Plan (CPP), as required. From September 2016 LH, Assistant Team Manager, became the Registrant’s line manager. In October 2016 the Registrant was informed that her ASYE programme was terminated due to her failure to meet the programme’s basic requirements. The Registrant tendered her resignation with her final day of work due to be 9 December 2016.

16.On 21 October 2016 LH escalated concerns to JT about the Registrant claiming to have conducted a visit in relation to Child E when, according to Child E’s mother, she had not. On 11 November 2016 LH again was told by the Registrant that a visit had been conducted in relation to Child F despite this subsequently being denied by the family in question.

17.On 16 November 2016 AO, a social worker who had been reallocated the case of Child G from the Registrant, raised an issue with JT about the Registrant relaying incorrect information about the arranging of a Child in Need meeting.

18.Finally, on 22 November 2016 JT and LH met with the Registrant to discuss some of these issues. It is alleged that the Registrant made various admissions in that meeting.  It is also alleged that she said that she no longer wished to practise as a social worker. The next day it was noted that the Registrant’s belongings had been removed from the office and she did not return to work from 23 November 2016 onwards. Following her departure the Registrant did not respond to any telephone calls or emails from the Council.

19.The witnesses in this case are:

•LH, Assistant Team Manager and the Registrant’s line manager from September 2016;
•AO, the Social Worker who took over the case of Child G from the Registrant; and
•JT, the Team Manager who was the line manager of LH and who was the Registrant’s Team Manager from April 2016. 

Witness 1 – LH

20.LH took the affirmation. She was a Social Worker at the Council and was Assistant Team Manager and the Registrant’s line manager from September 2016. She is a registered Social Worker. She confirmed that her witness statement was signed by her and was true to the best of her knowledge and belief. Her Witness Statement was accepted as her evidence in chief. LH explained that she is now a Social Worker at another Council.

 

21.LH explained her knowledge of the Registrant first as a student Social Worker.  She was part of the team and LH later became her Line Manager in September 2016.  LH supervised the Registrant’s case work and had regular supervision with her, which included reflective supervision on two occasions.  LH said that Registrant had a case load of 12-15 cases, mostly Child in Need cases, which was typical for the ASYE year.

22.LH explained her experience of the Registrant at the Council.  She explained that the Registrant frequently attended work late and left early. In addition, her online calendar was not clearly completed with the full details of the family she was visiting.  LH said that as a result she was concerned and suspicious of the Registrant’s whereabouts and excessive time allocated in her calendar for visits to service users. LH told the Panel that she had discussed with the Registrant the visit to Child E on 21 October 2016.  The Registrant had told LH that she had made that visit.  LH said that she spoke to Child E’s mother who said that she had not seen the Registrant for weeks. 

23.LH explained her further concerns about the Registrant’s claimed visit to Child F on 11 November 2016. The Registrant’s calendar was not clear so LH spoke to the father of Child F who told LH that the Registrant had not made the visit that day. LH said the Registrant admitted that she had not visited Child F when the issue was discussed at the subsequent meeting with LH and JT.
 
24.LH explained her recollection in respect of Child G and referred to the case notes.  These recorded two Child in Need (CIN) visits by the Registrant on 7 and 13 October 2016.  However, when the father of Child G was contacted by LH he said that the Registrant had never visited. LH referred to the record of the meeting she and JT had with the Registrant on 22 November 2016.  LH said that the Registrant had admitted that she had not visited the families of Children F and G. LH had said the Registrant had told them at the meeting that she did not want to be a Social Worker and did not intend to renew her registration.  LH said that the Registrant did not apologise or express any remorse.  The Registrant did not explain why she had not made the visits and did not seem bothered even when the seriousness of the situation was made clear to her.  According to LH, the Registrant said at that meeting she had made records of visits that had not taken place in respect of Children F and G.

25.LH explained the consequence of recording visits which had not taken place was that children who ought to have been seen by the Registrant were left at risk.

26.In response to Panel questions, LH told the Panel that she had not worked with the Registrant prior to her commencing the ASYE year. LH explained that the Registrant had a PIP in place.  LH said that the Registrant had not raised anything with her that may have impacted on her professional practice. When asked the Registrant said to LH that there were no issues.  LH told the Panel about the Registrant’s PIP and the supervision of the Registrant. LH said that the Registrant did not seem “fazed” by the PIP and did not have much to say about it. LH said that she was not surprised by the Registrant’s resignation given she did not enjoy the work and had failed the ASYE programme.

27.LH explained her concerns with the Registrant which were raised early on in her supervision on 7 September 2016. LH said they had discussed work management and support. LH said she had received a handover from the Registrant’s previous Line Manager, JT, and that she had immediate concerns about the Registrant’s time keeping and deadlines.

28.Regarding Child E, LH explained that the child was living with the mother. LH was suspicious of whether the Registrant had attended a scheduled visit with the mother of Child E, so she called the mother to check. A note of the call was contained in the email LH sent to JT. As regards Child F, contact was made with the father who lived with the child. LH said that the Registrant had not explained why she had failed to make the visits other than saying that she did not want to be a Social Worker. As regards the records of visits, LH explained that there should be a record made of any attempts to make a visit, but that an attempt to visit would not count as a visit.   LH said that the Registrant’s case load was manageable and she never made any complaints about her case load.  LH said that a personal issue had arisen just before the Registrant left the Council, but she had not discussed the matter with LH. LH added that the Registrant did have to undertake office duty to provide cover but that was not onerous in the team in which she worked.

Witness 2 - AO (by video link)

29.AO took the affirmation and confirmed that her witness statement was signed by her and was true to the best of her knowledge and belief. AO, is the Social Worker who took over the case of Child G from the Registrant.

30.AO said she worked with the Registrant in the same team at the Council. AO met with the Registrant to discuss Child G and the note of the meeting, written by JT, summarised that discussion.  She said she was satisfied that the note was accurate. AO said that she had contacted the child’s school headteacher who advised her that no social worker had been in contact with them for some time, that the Registrant had not made arrangements for a CIN meeting at the school and they had never heard of the Registrant. AO was surprised and she alerted her Line Manager JT.

31.AO told the Panel that she had raised the issue with the Registrant before she reported matters to JT. AO acknowledged that she had not been able to get the CIN meeting or the visit done, AO could not recall which. AO did not recall the Registrant providing any explanation but she seemed stressed. 

32.AO said she was aware that the Registrant had some personal problems but the Registrant had not discussed them with AO. AO said the Registrant had also expressed some concerns about her case load of 21 cases and shared with her a spreadsheet said to illustrate this.

Witness 3 – JT

33.JT took the affirmation and confirmed that his witness statement was signed by him and was true to the best of his knowledge and belief. He is a registered Social Worker.  He was the Team Manager from April 2016. 

34.JT explained his role and the hierarchy in the team.  He told the Panel that LH was his assistant Team Manager but he directly line managed the Registrant until LH joined the team. JT did not have a detailed handover from the Registrant’s previous Line Manager but was aware of issues regarding her completing the ASYE programme. He said that he got on well with the Registrant who was friendly and easy to work with.  He said he had some concerns about her practice which came to light and he explained that he put in a place a PIP for the Registrant which centred around the Registrant’s case notes, the recording of visits and a failure to see children.  There were concerns about the quality of her reports for case review conferences and her communication with professionals and parents.  These concerns had been raised by a number of professionals.  

35.JT explained his concerns about the Registrant’s handling of the case of Child A and the meeting due to take place on 10 May 2016. He referred to his witness statement which explained that the Registrant had failed to attend that CIN meeting or to be contactable by other professionals such as the school nurse.  He was concerned children were not receiving appropriate services and that CIN plans were not being progressed.  JT explained that a CIN meeting was the forum where objectives for the family were discussed. If a CIN meeting did not take place, the plan will not be reviewed and progressed. The lack of meetings was a big issue as the CIN meetings were important.

36.JT explained his concerns about the Registrant’s handling the cases of Children B and C.  He learned from professional at the school that the Registrant had failed to attend a number of CIN meetings.  JT sad that as a result of concerns about the Registrant’s practice he devised a performance improvement plan (PIP) for the Registrant. JT said the Registrant was not defensive and gave no reason for her poor performance although he had pressed her.  She simply did not have an explanation.

37.JT told the Panel about his concerns as to the Registrant’s performance in respect of Child D, a child subject to a CPP. The Registrant had not made the required visits to Child D since being placed on the Child Protection Register. The Registrant said there were difficulties making contact with the child’s parent but these were not recorded by the Registrant, and another social worker successfully made contact.  JT said he was concerned that Child D was at risk as a result of the Registrant’s failure to make the required visits. There was a statutory responsibility for children to be visited at least every 10 days when subject to a CPP. JT said that the Registrant appeared to understand the urgency of the matter and once it was raised she arranged a visit.

38.JT explained that the PIP was reviewed on 30 September 2016 where his concerns remained. On 6 October 2016 the Registrant was advised that her ASYE programme had been terminated due to her failure to meet the programme’s basic requirements. This occurred despite a high level of support.

39.JT told the Panel about the Registrant’s handling of the case of Child E. The Registrant had reported in an email of 21 October 2016 that she had visited Child E’s mother, but LH had been told by the mother that the visit did not take place.  

40.JT confirmed that he had typed up the notes seen by the Panel after the Registrant’s meeting with him and LH on 22 November 2016.  JT recalled that the Registrant admitted she had falsified the records regarding visits with the parents of Child F and Child G. JT was clear that the Registrant made it clear to him that the information in the records she had completed about the visits was not true and had not happened. He said the Registrant seemed to realise the seriousness of the matter. 

41.In respect of Child E, JT said that the Registrant was adamant she had made the visits to the mother. JT said the Registrant never explained why she frequently attended work late, nor did she explain why she had falsified records. The Registrant failed to return to work on 23 November 2016 when she was due to be suspended.  He understood that the Registrant was contacted by the Council but nothing further was heard from her.

42.In response to Panel questions, JT said that when taking on the Line Manager role he was aware there were issues with the Registrant’s ASYE programme but did not recall anything more specific. JT said the Registrant had support from her Line Manager LH and also from him as her practice assessor.  She also had the opportunity to attend drop in sessions for the ASYE social workers.  JT said he was not aware of any personal issues that the Registrant may have had that may have affected her practice, even though he had asked on more than one occasion. He said an ASYE social worker had a reduced case load, and he was sure she would not have had 21 cases.   

43.JT explained the case notes in respect of Child F.  He said he had reviewed the case and that at the 22 November 2016 meeting with him and LH, the Registrant had offered up the information that she had not in fact seen the child’s father. JT said that when the PIP was put in place the Registrant said she felt it was useful and acknowledged that she did have some difficulties organising herself.  The Registrant was never defensive and appeared “on the face of it” to be a good Social Worker. At the 22 November 2016 meeting JT recalled the Registrant did say she did not want to be a Social Worker and did not plan to renew her registration. As regards the admissions the Registrant made at that meeting, JT said that the meeting was an informal meeting with her managers and so no arrangements had been made to allow her to be accompanied. She was not given the note of the meeting as she did not return to work, but she was sent a suspension letter by the Council’s HR department.

44.As regards Child G, JT said that the Registrant told him that she had not visited the family home, so her record that “she arrived at the home” was not true. The father also said that he had not received any calls from the Registrant.

 

45.JT said he tried to explore the issues around her time keeping but the Registrant did not give any explanation.  JT said that she did not seem to realise the impact of her actions on team members or children. As regards insight, JT told the Panel that the Registrant did not explain her behaviour but she did seem to recognise her practice was not good and self-reported some issues, particularly about Child F and Child G. As to the reputation of the profession and that of her employer, JT said she did not seem to be aware of the impact of her behaviour and this was evident in her handling of the case of Child B and the lack of contact with the school. JT recalled that the Registrant appeared apologetic and seemed to take ownership of her mistakes. She seemed sorry for her behaviour, but he could not say whether it was genuine and she had not actually said “sorry”.

HCPC Closing Submissions

46.Mr Dite summarised the HCPC case and the evidence.  He submitted that the evidence supported the allegation and he referred to his written submission. 

47.Mr Dite made submissions on both the grounds of lack of competence and misconduct and referred to the relevant case law.  He  advised that the Panel has before it some 6 cases from a case load of some 12 – 15 cases and it may consider that is a fair sample of the Registrant’s work when considering the ground of misconduct.

48.Mr Dite invited the Panel to have regard to the Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers (the 2012 version of the standards are the ones that were in force at the relevant time), in particular:

a.Standard 1.2 - recognise the need to manage their own workload and resources and be able to practise accordingly;

b.Standard 2.2 -understand the need to promote the best interests of service users and carers at all times;

c.Standard 3.1 - understand the need to maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct;

d.Standard 8 - be able to communicate effectively; and

e.Standard 10 - be able to maintain records appropriately.

49.Mr Dite also invited the Panel to have regard to the 2016 version of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, in particular:

a.Standard 1 - Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers;

b.Standard 2 - Communicate appropriately and effectively;

c.Standard 9 - Be honest and trustworthy; and

d.Standard 10 - Keep accurate records.

50.Mr Dite referred the Panel to the HCPTS Practice Note on Finding that Fitness to Practice is Impaired and the need to consider the question of whether the Registrant has remedied her practice.  He referred the Panel to evidence as to the Registrant’s apparent lack of insight and remorse and submitted that there was a lack of evidence of any remediation.  He referred the Panel to the guidance on impairment in CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927.

Decision on Facts

51.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and applied the relevant principles. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel on the approach to facts. It was mindful that the civil burden of proof, the balance of probabilities, rests on the HCPC, and that the Registrant does not need to prove anything.  He reminded the Panel that on grounds there was no burden of proof and that was a matter for their own professional judgement.  He referred to the guidance on lack of competence and misconduct found in Holton v GMC [2006] EWHC 2960 and in Roylance v GMC (No 2) [2001] 1 AC 311 respectively. On the issue of impairment of fitness to practice, the Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the HCPTS Practice Note on Impairment and to the guidance in CHRE v NMC & Grant. The Panel should consider evidence of the Registrant’s insight, remorse and any evidence of remediation of her practice, and should also consider the risk of repetition.  The Panel should at all times bear in mind the central importance of the public interest, including maintaining confidence in the profession and the regulator and upholding and declaring proper standards. 

52.The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel about the guidance on dishonesty in Ivey v Genting Casino [2017] UKSC 67. He reminded the Panel that when dishonesty is in question, it had first to ascertain, if possible, the actual state of the Registrant’s knowledge or belief as to the facts. The question whether the conduct was honest or dishonest was then to be determined by applying the objective standards of ordinary decent people. The Legal Assessor also advised the Panel as to the need to treat hearsay evidence with care and of the guidance in Thorneycroft v NMC [2014] EWHC 1565 (Admin).

The Witnesses

53.The Panel carefully considered all the evidence and documents before it, together with Mr Dite’s submissions. 

54.The Panel found all the witnesses credible and reliable. All three did their best to help the Panel although recollections were, at times, rather limited. None appeared to bear ill will to the Registrant and all three said they had no issues in their working relationship with the Registrant.

55.LH was credible and clear.  She was the Registrant’s Line Manager for 2-3 months and her recollection was quite limited, and as such she added little to the evidence in her witness statement.

56.AO’s evidence was helpful and gave some insight into the Registrant’s circumstances from the perspective of a colleague.

57.JT was the Team Manager and the Practice Assessor under the ASYE programme for the period from April 2016.  He had more of an overall perspective of the Registrant’s performance and appeared to be an experienced manager. He was fair and balanced in respect of the Registrant.   

Hearsay Evidence

58.The Panel was mindful that some of the evidence was hearsay evidence, being evidence of what witnesses had been told by the Registrant and other professionals, from whom the Panel did not hear any evidence.  The Panel accepted the legal advice and approached the hearsay evidence with care, and it attached such weight as it considered fair and appropriate to that evidence where it arose.  

59.The Panel considered each of the particulars of the allegation and found as follows:-

 Particular 1 (a) & 1 (b) - Proved

60.The Panel considered the evidence in the email from Person A, a school nurse dated 21 June 2016.  Person A wrote that the Registrant had failed to attend a CIN meeting on 10 May 2016. According to Person A, the Registrant had sent a text message very shortly before the scheduled start time saying that she would be “seriously late” and asking for the meeting to rearranged. Person A also wrote that the Registrant, along with the mother of Child A and the representative of the school, did not attend a meeting on 15 June 2016. In addition Person A detailed in her email how on 14 April 2016, 19 April 2016, 13 May 2016, and 24 May 2016 she had left messages via telephone and/or sent emails which were not responded to by the Registrant.

61.The evidence of JT confirmed his receipt of the email of 21 June 2016 from Person A, but said he did not discuss it with the Registrant. There is also reference in the PIP of August 2016 to an area of concern about CIN meetings being cancelled or not attended by the Registrant, but there is no specific reference to the particular children or dates.

62.The Panel is aware that the decisive evidence on this particular is the email from Person A, received and spoken to by JT. The Panel has no basis to doubt the authenticity of the email which is not in question. Person A is clearly identified in the email which sets out her concerns and chronology.  On balance the Panel found these particulars proved.

Particular 2 – Proved

63.The Panel noted the evidence of JT.  He received the telephone call on 12 July 2016 from a Pupil Parent Support Worker (PPSW) at the school attended by Children B and C. He stated that he was told that the Registrant had failed to attend a CIN meeting that morning.  The Registrant was aware of this meeting as she answered an email about it on 4 July 2016 and had sent an interpreter that morning. 

64.The Panel noted that the PPSW also confirmed this information in an email of the same date copied to the Senior School Nurse. In an email of the same date to the Registrant, the Nurse raised her concerns about the Registrant’s failure to attend the meeting, and noted that she had confirmed it was in the Registrant’s calendar.

65.In light of the evidence from JT, and the evidence of these two, independent emails from fellow professionals, the Panel found this particular proved.
Particular 3 - Proved 

66.The Panel considered the evidence about Child D who was on a Child Protection Plan (CPP). The Panel heard and accepted the evidence of JT that such plans are put in place for children considered to be at risk of significant harm and carry a statutory requirement to see such children every 10 days.

67.JT was clear that when he reviewed a management performance report of key indicators it indicated that the Registrant had not visited Child D as required between 6 September 2016 and 27 September 2016, some 21 days.   JT also told the Panel that he had spoken to the Registrant about this issue and that she had confirmed to him that she had not in fact carried out any visits to Child D in this period.   JT had also noted in his management case notes, of 27 September 2016, that the Registrant had not recorded any Child Protection visits to Child D since 6 September 2016 when they had been placed on a CPP.

68.JT said that this failure was particularly serious as it covered such a crucial period of time so soon after that child had been assessed as being at significant risk of harm. In his live evidence JT told the Panel that in discussions with the Registrant she seemed to realise the urgency and had made immediate arrangements to see Child D. The Panel accordingly found this particular proved.

Particular 4 – Proved

69.The Panel considered the evidence carefully.  On 24 October 2016 the Registrant created a case note entry detailing the alleged visit on 21 October 2016. The Panel noted the Registrant’s position, expressed to JT and LH on 22 November 2016, that she had visited Child E’s mother despite the mother telling LH by telephone on 21 October 2016 that the Registrant had not visited that day. 

70.The Panel noted that the documentary evidence in the email from LH to JT is contemporaneous with the supposed visit, being 21 October 2016. That email sets out the inconsistency with the Registrant’s position. LH was clear in her live evidence, and consistent with her witness statement, that she had spoken to the mother of Child E that day, who told her that the Registrant had not made a visit that day.

71.The Panel also have the evidence in the meeting note of 22 November 2016 written by JT following the meeting between LH, JT and the Registrant. That records that the Registrant was adamant she had made the visit on 21 October 2016 and she had created a case note on 24 October 2016, that date being the “created” dated shown on the computer record of the note.

72.The Panel noted that the date the case note is completed by the Registrant is a date after LH had discussed with the Registrant  LH’s concerns about non-attendance with the mother of Child E. Whilst the case note completed by the Registrant is detailed it was created  after that discussion.  In conflict with that is the contemporaneous email from LH to JT setting out LH’s concerns following LH’s telephone call with the child’s mother.  That email is a record of that telephone call and, whilst short, it is unequivocal.

73.On balance the Panel preferred the evidence of the contemporaneous email from LH to JT, the content of which were confirmed by LH in her live evidence.  The Panel accordingly found this particular proved.

Particular 5 - Proved

74.The Panel considered the evidence of LH who had spoken to the father of Child F.  LH had been trying to find the Registrant and had checked her calendar entry.  This appeared to show a planned CIN visit to Child F’s father. LH said she had confirmed this with the Registrant, but when LH called the father he told her that the Registrant had not made a visit that day.

75.In her live evidence LH said she possibly recalled the Registrant calling her to say she was on the way to make the planned visit to the father of Child F. The Panel considered the management note of 22 November 2016 recording the meeting between LH, JT and the Registrant. It records that the Registrant admitted to both JT and LH that that she had lied about making the visit to the father of Child F.  This recollection was confirmed in the live evidence of both LH and JT. Their recollection was consistent. LH was clear that the Registrant had previously told her that she had made a visit on 11 November 2016. 

76.The Panel had no reason to doubt the evidence in the meeting note or the consistent, live evidence of both JT and LH about the Registrant’s admission. The Panel found this particular proved.

 

Particular 6 (a) & 6 (b)  - Proved

77.The Panel considered the evidence in the case note made by the Registrant of an attempted visit to Child G on 7 October 2016. It refers to the Registrant calling the father of the child several times and it going to an answerphone.  JT’s evidence was that he spoke to the father on an unannounced visit on 21 November 2016.  JT said that the father had stated that he had not heard from or seen Child G’s Social Worker.

78.The live evidence of both JT and LH was that the Registrant told them at the 22 November 2016 meeting that she did not visit the home of Child G on 7 October 2016. There is no evidence from the Registrant. The Panel found the evidence of JT and LH to be consistent, reliable and credible and it accepted that evidence of what the Registrant had told them both at that meeting.

79.The documentary evidence before the Panel is that the Registrant recorded a brief note on the ICS system that she conducted a CIN visit to Child G, on 13 October 2016, when this was not the case given what she later told JT and LH at the 22 November 2016 meeting. The Panel accordingly found these particulars proved. 

Particular 6 (c) - Proved

80.The Panel considered and accepted the evidence of AO that she had seen on the ICS that a CIN meeting had been arranged for Child G on 14 November 2016. The Panel did not see the entry on the ICS referred to by AO, but AO explained in her live evidence that because there was no record on the ICS of the meeting having taken place, this was one of the matters she had asked the Registrant about on 16 November 2016 when taking over the case.

81.The Panel considered the note of that discussion (which AO said JT had probably written).  This records AO asking the Registrant if she had arranged a CIN meeting on 14 November 2016. Whilst there is no record of a direct answer from the Registrant, there is a record that the Registrant “confirmed she had contacted the school to arrange a CIN meeting” but no date is specified. At the meeting with JT and LH on 22 November 2016 the Registrant is reported to have said to them the meeting on 14 November 2016 had not been scheduled by her.  This was confirmed in the live evidence of both JT and LH.  The Panel accordingly found this particular proved on the balance of probabilities.

Dishonesty

82.The Panel considered and applied the advice of the Legal Assessor as to dishonesty and was mindful of the guidance in the Ivey case.

83.The Panel considered that the Registrant would have known and understood the purpose and importance of recording information accurately on the ICS.  The Registrant was a qualified Social Worker in her ASYE year.  The Panel heard evidence of additional support she was provided with in terms of the PIP which sought to address concerns regarding the timeliness of the Registrant recording on the ICS and the extra support provided in the ASYE programme.
 
84.The Panel had no evidence of the Registrant’s knowledge or belief when she made the false entries about visits in respect of Children E and G, nor when she reported to her Line Manager that she had made a visit to Child F’s father when she had not done so. The Registrant has not offered any explanation for these actions and, indeed, JT’s evidence was that when asked by him she offered no explanation.

85.Ordinary, decent people would consider that knowingly making false entries about arranging a CIN meeting and about making visits to a child or their parents, making a case note that you had attempted visits, when you had not, and telling your Line Manager you had made a visit to a child when you had not, was dishonest behaviour.  The Panel found that when viewed objectively by the standards of an ordinary, decent person the Registrant’s actions in particulars 4, 5 and 6 in respect of Children E, F and G were dishonest. 

Decision on Grounds

86.The Panel exercised its professional judgment and was mindful of the guidance in the Roylance case. The Panel has found all the particulars proved and that the Registrant’s actions in particulars 4, 5 and 6 were dishonest.

87.The Panel found that the Registrant breached the Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers(2012) standards 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 8, 9.6 and 10.  Further the Panel found that the Registrant breached the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (2016), standards 1, 2 and 6 in respect of Child D, and Standards 9 and 10.

88.The dishonesty found relates to falsifying records regarding vulnerable children and covering up and concealing that fact that visits had not taken place and a CIN meeting had not been arranged.  Consequently, progress in line with CIN requirements was not monitored. 

89.The Panel found that the Registrant’s actions found proved breached a fundamental tenet of the profession, that of acting honestly and with integrity.

90.In addition, the Panel regarded the Registrant’s actions and omissions in not attending CIN meetings, not communicating appropriately with other professionals, lying to her Line Manager on one occasion and most significantly not visiting a child on the Child Protection Register to be serious.
 
91.The Panel considered that these findings were serious due to the inherent risk to vulnerable service users.  The Registrant did not appear to appreciate the importance of proper professional practise and adhering to statutory requirements.

92.Fellow professionals would find it to be extremely concerning for a Social Worker not to attend CIN meetings or visit a child when required, to act dishonestly, to breach professional standards and to breach the duty of trust with an employer. The Panel consider that cumulatively the facts found proved, the dishonesty and the breach of the professional standards are serious, fall far short of what would be proper in the circumstances, and amount to misconduct.

93.Having found misconduct in respect of all the particulars the Panel did not consider that is was necessary to consider the further ground alleged that of lack of competence.

Decision on Impairment

94.The Panel carefully considered the issue of impairment and the guidance in HCPTS Practice Note on Finding Fitness to Practise is Impaired. It also considered the case of Grant, Cohen v GMC [2008] EWHC 581 (Admin) and GMC v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1319.  It was mindful of the importance of the public interest.

95.In the note of the 22 November 2016 meeting the Registrant made a number of admissions regarding falsifying records.  LH’s evidence was that the Registrant expressed no remorse and appeared disinterested.  JT said that he thought there was no meaningful insight shown by the Registrant, although there appeared to be some recognition by her that she was not practising appropriately. JT said he saw no evidence that the Registrant understood the impact of her actions on the vulnerable families she served, or on the reputation of the profession or her employer. At that meeting the Registrant told LH and JT that she no longer wished to practice as a Social Worker and did not intend to renew her registration.

96.The Registrant has not engaged in this fitness to practise process and there is no evidence from her on her insight into her misconduct.  

97.As to remediation, the Panel considered that some of the misconduct was remediable such as addressing concerns about attending meetings, communication and visiting families.  However, other aspects such as dishonesty are less easily remedied.

98.The Panel found no evidence of remediation.  There was no evidence of any acknowledgement of concerns by the Registrant. These were not isolated errors but repeated behaviour over a period of time, even after concerns were raised and a PIP put in place to support the Registrant.  The Panel therefore found that there is a risk of repetition and consequently there is continuing risk of harm.

99.The Panel carefully considered all four limbs of the test set out by Dame Janet Smith in the fifth Shipman Report and re-stated in Grant, namely:- 
“Do our findings of fact in respect of the doctor's misconduct, deficient professional performance, adverse health, conviction, caution or determination show that his/her fitness to practise is impaired in the sense that s/he:

1.has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or

2.has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the medical profession into disrepute; and/or

3.has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the medical profession; and/or

4.has in the past acted dishonestly and/or is liable to act dishonestly in the future.”

100.Given the findings as to misconduct, including dishonesty, the Panel found that all four limbs of this guidance are engaged.  The Panel considered that the Registrant has in the past, and is liable in the future, to put service users at risk of harm, to bring the profession in to disrepute, to breach fundamental tenets of the profession and to act dishonestly.

101.The Panel was also mindful of the need to uphold and declare proper standards of professional conduct and the importance of maintaining public confidence in the profession and the regulator. The public would a expect a Social Worker to adhere to statutory requirements, particularly in this case relating to child protection, to appreciate and understand the risks of not doing so and to behave honestly and not to place children at risk of harm.  The Panel considers that a finding of no impairment would undermine public confidence in the profession of Social Work and its regulator.

102.A well informed member of the public would, given the findings of dishonesty and misconduct, be rightly concerned as to the Registrant’s practice. The Panel consider that a finding of impairment is therefore necessary on public interest grounds in order to protect members of the public, to maintain public confidence in the profession, to uphold and declare proper standards and to protect the reputation of the profession and the regulator.

103.The Panel accordingly determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. 

HCPC Submissions on Sanction

104.Mr Dite referred the Panel to the HCPC Indicative Sanction Policy (ISP).  He suggested there was an absence of mitigating features other than that the Registrant was newly qualified and, when confronted, admitted a number of failings and self-reported others. He submitted that aggravating features were that this was not an isolated incident but repeated failings and there was an apparent lack of insight by the Registrant into the impact of her actions on the children and colleagues.  He submitted that there was also a lack of remorse and an absence of any explanation for her actions, despite deliberate dishonesty.

105.Mr Dite referred to proportionality and reminded the Panel that the primary purpose of sanction was to protect the public. He suggested a sanction of Suspension or Striking Off may be appropriate in this case but it was a matter for the Panel.  Mr Dite referred to paragraphs 6, 9, 39, 47 and 48 of the ISP as to the approach to take and the possible sanctions the Panel might impose.

 

Decision on Sanction

106.The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He referred the Panel to the HCPC Sanctions Policy and reminded it to act proportionately, balancing the interests of the Registrant with the public interest. He advised the Panel to consider sanction in ascending order and to apply the least restrictive sanction necessary to protect the public and the wider public interest. It should also consider any aggravating and mitigating factors and bear in mind the public interest and that the primary purpose of sanction was protection of the public. The Panel considered the ISP and considered the sanctions available in ascending order of severity.

107.The Panel identified the following mitigating factors:-

•The Registrant made admissions to JT and LH when confronted at the 22 November 2016 meeting and self-reported other acts and omissions;

•She was newly qualified and had experienced some disruption to supervision during her ASYE.

108.The Panel considered that the aggravating factors were:-

•The Registrant’s lack of insight in recognising the risk to vulnerable children;

•Repeated failings despite concerns being raised;

•Lack of remorse and remediation;

•Breach of trust in respect of service users and her employer;

•The dishonesty was repeated and concealed;

•Risk of harm;

•The absence of any explanation for her actions.

 

109.The Panel considered that taking no action and mediation would not be appropriate or proportionate given its findings of misconduct and impairment.
  
110.As to Caution, the Panel considered paragraph 28 of the ISP. The Registrant’s actions were not isolated, were not minor, it has found there is a risk of repetition and of harm, and there is no direct evidence of insight or any remediation.  A Caution Order is not appropriate or proportionate.


111.The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel considered paragraph 33 of the ISP.  It advises that Conditions “will rarely be effective unless the Registrant is genuinely committed to resolving the issues” and are unlikely to be suitable where there had been a lack of engagement by the Registrant with the regulatory process. 

112.The Panel’s findings are of serious and repeated dishonesty over a period of time involving vulnerable children. Also, the Registrant failed to attend CIN meetings, communicate with other professionals and failed to visit or record a visit to a child subject to a CPP. The Panel has identified a risk of repetition and a consequent risk or harm. There is no evidence of any remediation. The Panel has heard nothing from the Registrant as she had failed to engage with the fitness to practice process, and the Panel know nothing of her current circumstances.

113.The Panel cannot determine whether the Registrant is willing or able to comply with any Conditions it might be able to devise.  In any event, given the nature and the gravity of the misconduct found and the risks identified, the Panel determined that a Conditions of Practice Order would not sufficiently protect the public and would not be proportionate. Further, such an order would fail to uphold public confidence in the profession and the regulator.
 
114.The Panel next considered the making of a Suspension Order, for up to 12 months.  The HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy at paragraph 39 advises “Suspension should be considered where…..the allegation is of a serious nature but unlikely to be repeated and, thus, striking off is not merited.”  Paragraph 41 advises that “if the evidence suggests that the Registrant will be unable to resolve or remedy his or her failings then striking off may be the appropriate option.”  

115.Whilst a Suspension Order would provide public protection for its duration, the Panel consider that it would not be sufficient given the nature and the gravity of the allegation found proved and given its earlier findings as to risk of repetition and risk of harm. It has found that the Registrant breached fundamental tenets of the profession, that of honesty and integrity, and the Panel is also concerned by the complete absence of any evidence of remediation and no direct evidence of any insight by the Registrant.

116.The Panel considered that a Suspension Order would not reflect the seriousness of the case and would be neither appropriate nor proportionate. It is satisfied that given the absence of any evidence from the Registrant as to insight and the lack of any evidence of remediation that she is unable to resolve or remedy her serious failings. Such an Order would be insufficient to protect the public or satisfy the wider public interest.

117.Finally, the Panel considered a Striking Off order.  The Panel considered paragraphs 48 and 49 of the ISP. Dishonesty, persistent failure and abuse of trust have been found in this case.  There is also a serious lack of evidence of insight. This sanction would reflect the seriousness and gravity of the findings.  In addition to providing protection to the public, such an order is a proportionate and appropriate response to repeated, dishonest behaviour and serious failures in Social Work practice exposing vulnerable children to risk of harm.

118.The Panel found that the lack of insight or remediation, the dishonesty, the risk of repetition and the risk of harm are key factors. A member of the public would be very concerned were the Registrant to be allowed to continue to practise as a Social Worker in light of these serious findings. 
 
119.In these circumstances a Striking Off order would provide the necessary deterrent effect. It would uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession given the serious, repeated nature of the dishonesty found and the abuse of trust. 

120.The Panel finds that the Registrant’s misconduct is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration and that a Striking Off order is the only appropriate and proportionate response.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Leonie Parry from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

 

 

Notes

Interim Suspension Order

The Panel makes an Interim Suspension Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Leonie Parry

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
18/12/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off