Mr Paul Martin Carney

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW21589

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 20/12/2018 End: 17:00 20/12/2018

Location: ETC Venues, Avonmouth House, 6 Avonmouth Street, London, SE1 6NX

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Allegation

During the-course of your employment as a Social Worker at Milton Keynes Council you:

 

  1. Did not record one or more of the following activities on the Integrated Children's System Electronic Record (ICS):

 

  1. In relation to Family A:

 

i.Home visit on or around 2 January 2015

  1. Case Management Conference on or around 6 January 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 23 January 2015

  1. Personal Education Plan (PEP) on or around 27 January 2015
  2. Childs Needs Meeting on or around 28 January 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 9 March 2015

vii.  Home visit on or around 10 March 2015

viii.  Home visit on or around 16 March 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 24 March 2015
  2. Contact session on or around 25 March 2015
  3. Care Planning Meeting on or around 8 April 2015 xii Rehabilitation meeting on or around 29 April 2015

xiii.  Home visit on or around 1 May 2015

xiv.  Initial Health Assessment (IHA) on or around 6 May 2015

  1. Court hearing on or around 23 June 2015

xvi.  Statutory visit on or around 10 July 2015

 

  1. in relation to Family B:

 

i.Harlow on or around 27 July 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 29 July 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family C:

 

i.Home visit on or around 19 February 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 6 March 2015

iii.  School meeting on or around 21 May 2015

  1. Contact agreement meeting on or around 4 June 2015
  2. Legal consultation on or around 7 July 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 14 July 2015

vii.  Home visit on or around 27 July 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family D:

 

i.Home visit on or around 12 February 2015

  1. School meeting on or around 21 April 2015

iii.  Office meeting on or around 1 June 2015

  1. Legal consultation on or around 7 July 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family E:

 

i.School transportation on or around 9 January 2015

  1. Meeting on 23 January 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 30 January 2015

  1. Meeting on or around 11 February 2015
  2. Meeting on or around 17 February 2015
  3. Meeting on or around 12 March 2015

vii.  Family Group Conference on or: around 28 April 2015

viii.  Home visit on or around.29 April 2015

  1. Family Group Conference on or around 5 May 2015
  2. Statutory visit on or around 26 May 2015
  3. Statutory visit on or around 27 May 2015

 

f.In relation to Family F:

 

i.Home visit on or around 18 March 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 26 March 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family G:

 

i.Home visit on or around 19 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 29 January 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 30 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 3 February 2015
  2. Home visit on or around 17 March 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family H:

 

i.Home visit on or around 2 January 2015

  1. Court hearing on or around 7 January 2015

iii.  Transport on or around 8 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 14 January 2015
  2. Contact transport on or around 21 January 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 23 January 2015

vii.  Meeting on or around 2 February 2015

viii.  Contact transport on or around 4 February 2015

  1. Family group conference on or around 20 March 2015

i.In relation to Family I

 

i.Home visit on or around 30 January 2015

  1. Visit on or around 9 February 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 11 February 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 13 February 2015
  2. Home visit on or around 18 February 2015

 

j.In relation to Family J

 

i.Home visit on or around 14 January 2015

 

  1. On or around 27 July 2016 made a record of visiting Family A on 15 July 2015 even though that visit did not take place.

 

  1. The matter described in paragraph 2 was dishonest.

 

  1. The matters described in paragraph 1-3 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

  1. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practice is impaired.

 

 

(as amended on 9 October 2017)

 

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Milton Keynes Council you:

 

  1. Did not record one or more of the following activities on the Integrated Children's System Electronic Record (ICS):

 

  1. In relation to Family A:

 

i.Home visit on or around 2 January 2015

  1. Case Management Conference on or around 6 January 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 23 January 2015

  1. Personal Education Plan (PEP) on or around 27 January 2015
  2. Child Needs Meeting on or around 28 January 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 10 March 2015

vii.  Home visit on or around 16 March 2015

viii.  Home visit on or around 24 March 2015

  1. Contact session on or around 25 March 2015
  2. Care Planning Meeting on or around 8 April 2015
  3. Rehabilitation meeting on or around 29 April 2015

xii.  Home visit on or around 1 May 2015

xiii.  Initial Health Assessment (IHA) on or around 6 May 2015

xiv.  Court hearing on or around 23 June 2015

  1. Statutory visit on or around 10 July 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family C/D:

 

i.Home visit on or around 19 February 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 6 March 2015

iii.  School meeting on or around 21 May 2015

  1. Contact agreement meeting on or around 4 June 2015
  2. Legal consultation on or around 7 July 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 14 July 2015

vii.  Home visit on or around 27 July 2015

viii.  Home visit on or around 12 February 2015

  1. School meeting on or around 21 April 2015
  2. Office meeting on or around 1 June 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family E/I:

 

i.Meeting on 23 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 30 January 2015

iii.  Meeting on or around 11 February 2015

  1. Meeting on or around 17 February 2015
  2. Meeting.on or around 12 March 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 29 April 2015

vii.  Family Group Conference on or around 5 May 2015

viii.  Statutory visit on or around 26 May 2015

  1. Statutory visit on or around 27 May 2015
  2. Visit on or-around 9 February 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 11 February 2015

xii.  Home visit on or around 13 February 2015

xiii.  Home visit on or around 18 February 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family F:

 

i.Home visit on or around 18 March 2015

  1. Home.visit on or around 26 March 2015

 

  1. In relation to Family G:

 

i.Home visit on or around 19 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 30 January 2015

iii.  Home visit on or around 17 March 2015

 

f.In relation to Family H:

 

i.Home visit on or around 2 January 2015

  1. Court hearing on or around 7 January 2015

iii.  Transport on or around 8 January 2015

  1. Home visit on or around 14 January 2015
  2. Contact transport on or around 21 January 2015
  3. Home visit on or around 23 January 2015

vii.  Meeting on or around 2 February 2015

viii.  Contact transport on or around 4 February 2015

  1. Family group conference on or around 20 March 2015

 

  1. On or around 27 July 2015 made a record of visiting Family A on 15 July 2015 even though that visit did not take place.

 

  1. The matter described in paragraph 2 was dishonest.

 

  1. The matters described in paragraphs 1-3 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

  1. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practice is impaired.

 

 

Facts proved: 1 (a) (i), 1 (a) (iv), 1 (a) (v), 1 (a) (vi), 1 (a) (vii), 1 (a) (x), 1 (a)

(xi), 1 (a) (xii), 1 (a) (xiii), 1 (a) (xiv), 1 (a) (xv), 1 (b) (i), 1 (b)

(ii), 1 (b) (v), 1 (b) (vi), 1 (b) (vii), 1 (b) (x), 1 (c) (v), 1 (c) (ix), 1

(e) (i), 1 (e) (ii), 2, 3

 

 

Facts not proved: 1 (a) (ii), 1 (a) (iii) 1 (a) (viii), 1 (a) (ix), 1 (b) (iii), 1 (b) (iv),

1 (b) (viii), 1 (b) (ix), 1 (c) (i), 1 (c) (ii), 1 (c) (iii), 1 (c) (iv), 1

(c) (vi), 1 (c) (vii), 1 (c) (viii), 1 (c) (x), 1 (c) (xi), 1 (c) (xii), 1

(c) (xiii), 1 (d) (i), 1 (d) (ii), 1 (e) (iii), 1 (f) (i), 1 (f) (ii), 1 (f)

(iii), 1 (f) (iv), 1 (f) (v), 1 (f) (vi), 1 (f) (vii), 1 (f) (viii), 1 (f) (ix),

 

Grounds: Misconduct (Except 1 (a) (v), 1 (a) (xiii) and 1 (c) (v), 1 (c) (ix), 1 (e) (i), 1 (e) (ii))

 

 

 

Finding

Service

  1. The Panel was provided with a copy of the Notice sent by first class post to the Registrant’s registered address on 16 November 2018, setting out the time, date and venue for this review and the possibility of the Panel proceeding without the Registrant in the event that he did not attend. The Panel was provided with proof of postage by way of a signed declaration by an HCPC employee. The Panel was thus satisfied with service in this case.

 

Proceeding in absence

 

  1. The Registrant did not attend the review hearing. He did not provide any written representations nor did he respond to the Notice of Hearing.

 

  1. Ms Simpson, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

 

  1. When deciding whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into account the submissions made by Ms Simpson and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It bore in mind that, although it had a discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, this discretion should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel was cognisant of the fact that this was a statutory review and its purpose was to review a Suspension Order before the date it was due to expire. The review therefore needed to be conducted before 15 January 2019 and, if adjourned, it would be difficult to do so. Furthermore, there was nothing to suggest the Registrant would attend on another occasion. The Registrant had not responded to correspondence about this hearing, that was both posted and emailed to him, and the Panel observed that he had not attended the substantive hearing either. The Panel therefore decided that, by his lack of engagement, the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and thereby waived his right to be present. The Panel considered there was a public interest in the matter proceeding and it was also in the Registrant’s own interests that the Order be reviewed.

 

  1. In all the circumstances, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

 

Background

 

  1. The Registrant is a Social Worker registered with the HCPC. He was employed as a Senior Social Worker in the Family Support Team Central and East (the Team) at Milton Keynes Council (the Council) from November 2014 to 23 February 2016.

 

  1. The Registrant’s case load included children and young people up to the age of 18 years old. His responsibilities included Children in Need (CIN), Child Protection (CP) and court cases. CIN cases relate to families who need support to parent their children. CP cases are for families where child protection concerns have been identified. Court cases frequently involve the local authority requesting removal of a child from the family.

 

  1. The Council used an electronic based system for keeping records in respect of service users, known as the Integrated Children’s System Electronic Record (ICS). The expectation was that all verbal or direct contact with a family by a member of staff within the Team should be recorded on the ICS. The Council’s Children’s Social Care Recording Policy and Practice Guidance indicates that records must be up to date, and be added to ICS as soon as possible and no later than three working days after the event. On 15 July 2015, JM (the Duty Manager) was on duty and the Registrant was the duty Social Worker. JM saw the Registrant leave the office at around 4:45pm, 15 minutes before the end of the official duty period. She checked the Social Worker diary to see if a duty visit was planned. She then looked in the Registrant’s own Outlook Calendar to see if a visit was recorded and saw that there was a home visit recorded for Family A at 5pm. It was alleged that the Registrant did not visit Family A. JM told CB, (Team Manager of the Team), that the Registrant had not visited Family A.

 

  1. On 24 July 2015, CB sent the Registrant an email inquiring whether he had visited Family A, as it was in his Calendar but not yet recorded on ICS. On 27 July, the Registrant sent an email to CB, to the effect that the record was now on ICS. It was alleged, and found proved, that this entry was not accurate, and that the Registrant had acted dishonestly in entering the record.

 

  1. CB raised her concerns about the record with MM, (Head of Service) and MT,(Human Resources). CB was advised to undertake an audit of all of the Registrant’s cases, to see whether what was recorded in his Outlook Calendar matched the case record that he had entered on ICS. CB carried out this review between 28 and 30 July 2015, and identified a number of occasions when the ICS case notes did not correspond to the Registrant’s diary entry.

 

  1. On 28 July 2015, CB met with the Registrant to speak about the 15 July 2015, and corresponding ICS entry. On 31 July and 3 August 2015, CB again met with the Registrant to discuss her findings of the audit.

 

  1. In September 2015, HLT, (Independent Reviewing Officer in the Safeguarding Service at the Council), was appointed to conduct an investigation into the matter. On 24 September 2015, HLT interviewed the Registrant. In the course of her investigation, she also interviewed CB and JM. The results of that investigation formed the basis of the case against the Registrant.

 

  1. As reflected above, the Panel at the Final Hearing found a number of the facts proved and a number not proved. Of those found proved the Panel found that a number of them amounted to misconduct, again as reflected in the decision above.

 

  1. In reaching its decision on impairment, the Final Hearing Panel stated:

 

“In relation to the record keeping failures of particular 1 constituting misconduct, the Panel considered that these were an important, but discrete element of the Registrant’s practice which he had not consistently met to a satisfactory standard. Having heard the evidence, the Panel concluded that accurate and complete records are of central importance as they enabled continuity of care and support by all professionals involved in the care of service users. For example by establishing a full picture of events so as to be able to identify patterns of missed or avoided interaction with professionals. The Panel was of the view that this was an area of his practice which was capable of remediation, for example there are courses and training in respect of record keeping and governance which the Registrant could undertake.

 

However, the difficulty for the Panel at this Substantive Hearing is that the Registrant has not engaged with the process. The reality is that the Panel has no up to date position as to whether the Registrant has developed insight into his record keeping failings and his dishonesty, or whether he has taken any steps to remediate his practice. In relation to both the dishonesty and the record keeping failures, given the absence of any engagement by the Registrant, the Panel had no evidence before it as to whether the Registrant had reflected on his failures or how he had come to act dishonestly, for example whether he had thought about what steps he would take to ensure that he did not repeat the failures or the dishonesty; or thought about how such failures and his dishonesty may impact upon the confidence of the public in the profession.

 

In all the circumstances, given the absence of any information to demonstrate that the Registrant had developed insight and had remediated his practice, the Panel could not rule out that there remained a risk of repetition of both the record keeping failures and the dishonesty, which, in turn, could lead to a risk of harm to the public. Accordingly, in respect of the personal component, The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

 

The Panel went to consider the ‘public component’.

 

In the Panel’s view, it is paramount that the public is able to trust the integrity of Social Workers who are charged with the responsibility of supporting vulnerable service users, in this case families and children in need. Part of the responsibility of the Social Worker is the accurate and honest recording of relevant interventions with families within the Case Notes history maintained in respect of them.

 

In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that a finding of Impairment was required to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. It was of the view that public confidence in the profession and the Regulator would be undermined if it did not make a finding of Impairment, in particular as the public would be left with the impression that no steps had been taken to draw to the Registrant’s attention, the profound unacceptability of his dishonest entry for 15 July 2015.

 

Accordingly, in respect of the ‘public component’ the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.”

 

  1. When deciding the appropriate sanction, the Final Hearing Panel considered that taking no action, or making a Caution Order, would not adequately reflect the seriousness of the case. That Panel decided that:

“… the Registrant’s dishonest actions are not amenable to conditions, as the basis for this type of misconduct is an attitudinal failing. The Panel concluded that it would not be possible to formulate conditions which would be workable, measurable or proportionate. As the Registrant had not engaged with the hearing process the Panel could have no confidence that he would comply with conditions even if appropriate conditions could be formulated. Furthermore, the Panel concluded that conditions would not adequately address the serious nature of the Registrant’s dishonest conduct and so would undermine public confidence in the profession and undermine the need to uphold standards of conduct and behaviour.”

 

 

  1. That Panel therefore decided to impose a Suspension Order for a period of 12 months. In reaching this decision the Final Hearing Panel said:

 

“The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. A Suspension Order would re-affirm to the Registrant, the profession and the public the standards expected of a registered Social Worker. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from practising as a Social Worker during the suspension period, which would therefore provide a degree of protection to service users and the public. In considering this issue the Panel had regard to paragraph 31 of the ISP which states:

 

‘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. However, where the registrant has no psychological or other difficulties preventing him or her from understanding and seeking to remedy the failings then suspension may be appropriate.

 

The Panel took the view that the above paragraph may apply to the Registrant. However, the Panel determined that a finding of dishonesty is capable of being remedied provided that a registrant is willing to engage in meaningful reflection and take steps to demonstrate that such behaviour is firmly in the past and will not be repeated in future. The Panel also noted that deficiencies in record keeping are also capable of being remedied. Although there has been no engagement from the Registrant the Panel determined that he should be given an opportunity to consider carefully the decision of the Panel and properly focus on the issues that have been identified. In determining that the Registrant should be given an opportunity to engage with the regulatory process the Panel concluded that a Striking Off Order, at this point in time, would be disproportionate as there was a possibility that the Registrant is willing and able to demonstrate remediation. Therefore the Panel determined that a Suspension Order should be imposed.”

 

 

Decision

 

  1. This Panel has taken into account all the documentation placed before it, together with the submissions made by Ms Simpson. The Registrant had not engaged and and not provided any material for the Panel to consider. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and in reaching its decisions referred to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on ‘Finding Fitness to Practise is Impaired’.

 

  1. The Panel first considered the issue of current impairment. The Panel took account of the principle set out in Abrahaem v GMC [2008] EWHC 183 (Admin) that there is 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.

 

  1. The Panel at the Final Hearing found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired on both public protection and public interest grounds for the reasons state above. That Panel indicated that a reviewing Panel would be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance in person, evidence of reflection, evidence that he had kept his skills up to date and up-to-date testimonials. The Registrant had not heeded that advice and thus the Panel could not be satisfied that the risks identified at the Final Hearing were not still present. The Registrant had provided no evidence acknowledging why his past performance was deficient. He had not provided any evidence of insight, application, education, supervision or other achievement to demonstrate that he had addressed the past impairments. The Panel therefore decided that his fitness to practise remained impaired on public protection grounds.

 

  1. The Panel went on to consider whether a finding of impairment on public interest grounds was needed in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator. The Panel was satisfied that a fully informed member of the public, who was aware of all the background to this case, would have their confidence in the profession and the Regulator undermined if a finding of impairment were not made, given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct in a number of areas fundamental to his professional practice and which included behaving dishonestly.

 

  1. Accordingly, the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on public interest grounds also.

 

  1. The Panel then considered what sanction was both appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances and in doing so considered the sanctions guidance. The Panel noted that the Registrant had now been suspended for almost a year, but had taken no steps to remediate his failings or to demonstrate insight into them. He had not engaged with his Regulator at the Final Hearing or at any stage thereafter. There was, therefore, no indication that he was in any way committed to resolving his failings. In such circumstances to take no action or make a Caution Order would not be appropriate. Furthermore, a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or workable. In addition, without some  engagement from the Registrant, the Panel could not be satisfied that he had addressed the issue of dishonesty and thus a Conditions of Practice Order would not adequately reflect the seriousness of the misconduct.

 

  1. The Panel thus had little choice but either to further suspend the Registrant or to remove him from the Register. The Panel noted the observation of the Final Hearing Panel that if the Registrant failed to take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that he had addressed the deficiencies in his practice, the outcome on review may be a Striking Off Order.

 

  1. The Panel considered it was not sensible to continue the review process where it appeared that the Registrant was unwilling or unable to remediate his failings. In the absence of any remediation or insight, or any evidence that the Registrant was prepared to engage with his Regulator, the Panel decided the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to make a Striking Off Order. The Panel took into account the impact this may have on the Registrant, however this was outweighed by the public interest in appropriately dealing with cases where a Registrant had chosen not to engage.

Order

ORDER: The registrar is directed to strike the Registrant from the Register with immediate effect, in accordance with Article 30(2) and (4).

Notes

A Hearing was held in London on 20 December 2018. The Registrant's name was struck off the Register.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Paul Martin Carney

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/12/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
15/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
09/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard