Mr Simon Manning

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW102430

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 30/07/2018 End: 16:00 02/08/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Manchester City Council, you:


1. In relation to Child A:

a. were allocated responsibility for Child A on 3 December 2014 but did not undertake and/or record an initial Child in Need assessment until 12 February 2015

b. did not attend visits within the statutory timeframes;

c. on or around 18 June 2015, did not transfer Child A’s case to another Local Authority in a timely manner and/or at all;

d. did not upload records of Child in Need meetings and/or case notes onto Micare in a timely manner and/or at all;

e. did not follow safeguarding procedures in relation to Child A.


2. Recorded on the case notes system that you attended home visits in relation to Child A, when you did not do so, on:

a. 18 August 2015

b. 7 December 2015

c. 10 December 2015


3. Recorded on the case notes system that you attended Child in Need meetings in relation to Child A, when you did not do so, on:

a. 3 September 2015

b. 21 October 2015


4. On or around 23 November 2015, completed a Child and Family Assessment, recording that you had had input from Child A’s parents, when you had not consulted them.


5. The matters described in particulars 2 to 4 were dishonest.


6. The matters described in particulars 1 a) to e) constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.


7. The matters described in particulars 2 to 5 constitute misconduct.


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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service of Notice

1. The Panel was referred to the Notice of Hearing which was sent to the Registrant at his registered address dated 10 May 2018. The Panel was also referred to a further letter sent by Kingsley Napley to the Registrant dated 11 June 2018, enclosing the case papers. The Panel was further referred to another letter dated 12 July 2018 which was sent to the Registrant by Kingsley Napley enclosing the final hearing bundle, which was sent by Special Delivery and is recorded as having been refused on two occasions on 13 July 2018.

2. The Panel was satisfied that Notice of Hearing had been served on the Registrant in accordance with the Rules.
 
Proceeding in absence

3. Ms Eales, on behalf of the HCPC, applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. She referred the Panel to the legal principles set out in the cases of R v Jones [2001] QB 862 and Adeogba v GMC [2016] EWCA civ 162. Ms Eales submitted that the Registrant was aware of the hearing and had chosen not to attend. She further submitted that, balancing the public interest with the Registrant’s interests, the Panel ought to proceed.

4. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that they should only proceed in the Registrant’s absence having considered the factors outlined in R v Jones, in particular whether the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and whether any purpose would be served by an adjournment, taking into account that six witnesses had been called to attend on behalf of the HCPC. The Legal Assessor also advised that the Panel should consider whether all reasonable steps had been taken by the HCPC to inform the Registrant of the hearing, following the judgement in Adeogba v GMC.

5. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself and that no purpose would be served by adjourning the hearing. The Panel also had regard to the fact that the allegations concern matters which occurred in 2015 and there was a public interest in matters proceeding without further delay. Additionally, two witnesses had attended on behalf of the HCPC on the first day and another four witnesses were subsequently due to attend. Taking all matters into consideration, the Panel determined to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.


Background

6. The Registrant was employed by Manchester City Council as a Social Worker. He worked as a Band 6/7 Social Worker, having been brought in through a system called Grow Your Own, which meant he was invited to apply for social work training which was paid for by the Council. He started as a Social Worker around January 2015. Prior to this he had worked at the Council for five years as a Supervised Contact Officer.

7. The concerns in this case relate to the Registrant’s dealings with the case of Child A. Child A was only two years old and was known to Social Services due to concerns about the relationship between his parents. There were concerns about Child A’s parents’ use of alcohol and the domestic violence and verbal altercations that Child A was a witness to. In its referral to the HCPC, Manchester City Council raised their concerns that the Registrant had failed to conduct visits or make records of his visits and that he had failed to communicate with other parties, including failing to transfer Child A’s case to another Local Authority, Trafford.


Decision on Facts

8. The Panel heard oral evidence from six witnesses called on behalf of the HCPC, four of whom are registered Social Workers. Witness JH was the senior manager in the Locality Office where the Registrant was based. Witness DF is a senior Social Worker who conducted the investigatory interview with the Registrant. Witness CC is a support worker who attended Child in Need (CIN) meetings with the Registrant. Witness CD was the Registrant’s team manager for approximately one year. Witness KE managed the Registrant from October 2015 until January 2016. Witness EO is a qualified Counsellor and Alcohol Recovery Navigator.

9. The Panel considered that all witnesses called on the HCPC’s behalf gave careful, considered evidence and were credible. The Panel was provided with no evidence on the Registrant’s behalf and the Panel carefully considered the Registrant’s answers given in the Investigatory Interview conducted with him on 27 May 2016.

10. Having considered all of the evidence in the round, the Panel made the following findings:

Particular 1 (a) – Proved

11. The Panel had regard to the evidence of DF and to Child A’s case notes. The Panel was satisfied from that evidence that Child A’s case was referred to the Registrant on 4 December 2014. The first record of the Registrant visiting Child A is the case note history entered on 23 February 2015 by the Registrant, which indicates that he visited Child A on 17 February 2015. The Panel noted the Registrant’s comment in his interview, during his employer’s investigation, that he believed that there must have been a visit before February 2015 and that there was poor recording on his part. However, the Panel considered that the Registrant would have recorded an earlier visit. In the absence of any record of any visit to Child A before the 17 February 2015, the Panel was satisfied that this particular is proved.
 
Particular 1(b) – Proved

12. The Panel accepted the evidence of JH, who conducted a meeting with the parents of Child A. JH told the Panel that the Child A’s parents were “really cross” that the Registrant had not visited them between 20 July 2015 and 23 December 2015. There are no records of any visits by the Registrant during that period. The Panel also noted that the Policy in place was for a CIN to be visited at four weekly intervals at least.

Particular 1(c) – Proved

13. The Panel accepted the evidence of CD, supported by his supervision notes, that on 18 June 2015 he instructed the Registrant to transfer Child A’s case to Trafford Local Authority (Trafford) by 26 June 2015. The Panel also noted that, notwithstanding that the Registrant recorded that he was told on 18 August 2015 that Trafford wanted an up-to-date Child and Family Assessment (CAFA) and a CIN plan, he did nothing to progress the transfer of Child A to Trafford. Eventually, the Registrant’s manager KL, on 10 November 2015, directed that the Registrant complete the CAFA and CIN within seven days. The Registrant did not do so by 10 December 2015 and eventually Child A’s case was allocated to another Social Worker.

Particular 1(d) – Proved

14. The Panel had regard to the evidence of DF regarding the requirement for notes of CIN meetings to be typed and uploaded to Micare within five working days of the meeting. The Registrant accepted in his interview that he had delayed recording CIN meetings. Further, the Registrant did not always use Micare as he should have done and recorded meetings in Word documents, which the Panel had sight of. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s recording of CIN meetings was neither timely nor consistent.

Particular 1(e) – Proved

15. The Panel had regard to the Registrant’s record of his visit to Child A and the parents on 22 July 2015, and to DF’s evidence. Notwithstanding that Child A’s mother had been assaulted by her father and taken to hospital on 18 July 2015, there is no record in the Registrant’s CIN notes that he discussed the assault and her attendance at A&E with her at his visit on 22 July 2015. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant did not discuss that matter, nor record it, which was very important given the potential risks to Child A.
 
Particular 1(f) – Proved

16. The Panel had regard to KL’s evidence and to her decision notes dated 8 December 2015. KL asked the Registrant to confirm with the referrer the details and exact dates in relation to Child A’s mother’s drinking levels, the grandparent’s drinking, the domestic abuse and the mother sleeping with Child A whilst under the influence of alcohol. On 10 December 2015, the Registrant recorded that, having spoken to the referrer, the incident was dated “from several months ago” and there are no further reports of such incidents.

17. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant did not take any adequate steps to safeguard Child A and did not even seek to obtain the information which he was instructed to obtain by KL.

Particular 2 – Proved

18. The Panel was able to give weight to the hearsay evidence of JH that the Registrant had not visited Child A on 18 August 2015 and 7 December 2015, notwithstanding that the Registrant had recorded that he had done so. Whilst JH’s evidence was based on what she had been told by Child A’s parents, JH is an experienced and Senior Social Worker, whose judgment in believing Child A’s parents can be relied upon. JH’s evidence is also supported by the fact that at a Strategy Meeting regarding Child A, which was held on 23 December 2015, the Registrant was very obviously “not up to speed on the case” and it was clear to JH that something was clearly wrong. Whilst the Panel was not provided with a CIN note for 10 December 2015, it accepted JH’s evidence that she would have seen such a note, given that she referred to it.

Particular 3 (a) and (b) – Proved

19. The Registrant’s CIN meeting note of 3 September 2015 recorded that he attended, along with other Social Work and Health Care professionals, including CC. The Panel accepted CC’s evidence that she never attended a CIN meeting on that date. Whilst the Panel did not hear evidence from the other professionals involved, it had regard to the fact that efforts were made to contact them.

20. The Panel also regarded the contents of the Registrant’s CIN meeting note of 3 September 2015 as not credible. The Registrant recorded that Child A’s mother’s drinking levels “are lower than they have previously been”, which was inconsistent with the credible evidence given by EO as to the mother’s very high drinking levels.
 
21. In relation to 21 October 2015, the Panel accepted EO’s evidence that he only managed to speak to the Registrant by telephone on one occasion despite having tried to do so every two or three days. He had not attended a CIN meeting with the Registrant on that date, and indeed had never met him.

Particular 4 – Proved

22. The Panel accepted JH’s evidence that Child A’s parents had not been consulted prior to the CAFA being prepared. The Panel also noted that, in his interview, the Registrant said that he could not remember if he spoke to Child A’s parents and was not sure how he obtained their views which he put into the CAFA.

Particular 5 - Proved

23. The Panel had regard to the legal test for dishonesty, set out in the case of Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Limited [2017] UKSC 67. The Panel was not provided with any evidence as to the Registrant’s state of mind. The Panel was satisfied that recording that he had attended CIN visits when he had not, and fabricating information for a CAFA, would be regarded as dishonest according to the standards of ordinary decent people.


Decision on Grounds

24. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct fell seriously below the standards required of a registered Social Worker. Child A was a very vulnerable child given the domestic circumstances outlined in the background matters. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s failures in not visiting Child A in a timely manner, failing to transfer Child A’s case to another Local Authority, and falsifying records in relation to CIN visits and a CAFA are deplorable and amount to a complete abrogation of the basic and fundamental duties required of a Social Worker.

25. The Panel was also satisfied that the Registrant has fallen far below the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics in the following respects:

1 You must act in the best interests of service users

10 You must keep accurate records

13 You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that  your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession
 
And the following HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England:

2.2 understand the need to promote the best interests of service users and carers at all times

2.3 understand the need to protect, safeguard, promote and prioritise the wellbeing of children, young people and vulnerable adults

26. As Child A’s Social Worker, the Registrant should have adopted a safeguarding role as Child A’s advocate. He failed Child A and the family. Further, the Registrant failed his colleagues by falsely recording their attendance at CIN meetings. Accordingly, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s conduct amounted to misconduct. The Panel did not consider that the facts constituted lack of competence.


Decision on Impairment

13. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant put Child A at unwarranted risk of harm. The Panel was also satisfied that the Registrant breached fundamental tenets of his profession, brought his profession into disrepute and has been dishonest. The Panel was provided with no evidence of remorse, insight or remediation other than the Registrant’s apology during his investigatory interview. It therefore cannot be satisfied that the misconduct would not be repeated.

14. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the personal component of impairment.

15. The Panel also considered that the public would be appalled by the Registrant’s failures. The Panel had regard to the need to uphold the reputation of the Social Work Profession, in particular the paramountcy principle of the welfare of the child, as set out in the Children Act 1989.

16. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that public confidence in the profession and in the HCPC as Regulator would be undermined were a finding of impairment not made on public interest grounds.


Decision on Sanction

17. The Panel considered the submissions made by Ms Eales on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
 
18. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of any sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession and the HCPC as its Regulator by the maintenance of proper standards of conduct and behaviour and to serve as a deterrent in relation to such behaviour.

19. The Panel had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality by weighing the Registrant’s interests with the public interest and by considering each available sanction in ascending order of seriousness.

20. In determining the appropriate and proportionate sanction, the Panel had regard to its findings of fact and misconduct. It found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by his having put service users at risk of harm, breaching fundamental tenets of his profession, bringing that profession into disrepute, and behaving dishonestly. The Panel was also not provided with any evidence of remorse, insight or remediation other than the apology in the Registrant’s investigatory interview, and could not be satisfied that the misconduct was highly unlikely to be repeated.

21. In deciding whether to impose any sanction, the Panel had regard to paragraph 13 of the Indicative Sanctions Policy, which states,

"The degree of insight displayed by a registrant is central to a proper determination of whether fitness to practise is impaired and, if so, what sanction (if any) is required. The issues which the Panel need to consider include whether the registrant:

• has admitted or recognised any wrongdoing;

• has genuinely recognised his or her failings;

• has taken or is taking any appropriate remedial action;

• is likely to repeat or compound that wrongdoing.”

22. The Panel considered that the aggravating factors in this case included the Registrant’s wilful neglect of his responsibilities towards Child A over a considerable period of time. Child A’s domestic circumstances were particularly grave and encompassed a family history of addiction, violence and abuse. Further, the Registrant sought to cover up his failures in relation to Child A through repeated dishonesty and wrongly seeking to imply that his professional colleagues were also involved in meetings regarding Child A’s care. The matter is further aggravated by the Registrant’s failure to engage with these proceedings and his failure to provide any explanation whatsoever for behaviour which is in direct contradiction to the standards and values required of a Social Worker, which, being newly qualified, should have been at the forefront of his mind.

23. As mitigation, the Panel took into account the evidence that the Registrant had a heavy case load, which was not unusual for members of his team at that time. The Panel also noted that the Registrant had supportive supervision where he could have raised his concerns. He chose not to do so. The Panel also had regard to possible personal and health issues which, although not supported by any documentary evidence, were mentioned by the Registrant during his investigatory interview.

24. Given the seriousness of the matters found proved, the Panel considered that it was necessary to impose a sanction in this case. It considered that taking no action or imposing a Caution Order would not be appropriate or proportionate.

25. The Panel next considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order was appropriate and proportionate. It had regard to the nature of the matters found proved, which did not involve clinical failings capable of being remedied through retraining or supervision. The Panel considered that the misconduct arose as a result of attitudinal problems for which appropriate and workable Conditions of Practice could not be formulated. Furthermore, the case involved dishonesty and serious misconduct. The Panel could not formulate conditions which would satisfactorily protect the public or satisfy the wider public interest, nor has there been any evidence that the Registrant is able and willing to comply with any Conditions of Practice.

26. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order and had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy that such an Order was appropriate where remediation was possible and where a Registrant had demonstrated some insight.

27. The Panel considered that the misconduct comprised sustained dishonesty to cover up the dangerous and repeated neglect of the Registrant’s duties in relation to a very vulnerable two-year-old child. Further, given the lack of any engagement by the Registrant, the Panel considered that a Suspension Order would not facilitate remediation or protect the public.
 
28. The Registrant’s misconduct involved a deliberate breach of trust in relation to Child A, Child A’s parents and the Registrant’s professional colleagues. There has been no engagement in these proceedings and very limited insight.

29. In all the circumstances, given the Registrant’s very limited demonstrable insight and the absence of any evidence of remediation or the prospect thereof, and having regard to the gravity of the misconduct, which was calculated and repeated over a sustained period of time, the Panel concluded that it was not possible to protect the public and the reputation of the profession other than by imposing a Striking Off Order. No other sanction would have the deterrent effect required to properly reflect the seriousness of this misconduct.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Simon Manning from the Register.

Notes

Interim Order

1. Having announced its decision on sanction, the Panel indicated that it would hear submissions on an application for an Interim Order. Ms Eales applied for the application to be heard in the Registrant’s absence.
 
Proceeding in absence

2. The Panel noted that within the Notice of Hearing dated 10 May 2018, the Registrant was informed that if the Panel imposed a sanction of Conditions of Practice, a Suspension Order or a Striking Off Order, the HCPC may make an application for an Interim Order. The Panel also bore in mind that an Interim Order Application was made on public protection and public interest grounds.

3. The Panel was also mindful that any adjourned hearing would have to take place within 28 days. Having regard to its previous findings that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself, the Panel was not confident that he would attend any adjourned hearing or would be represented.

4. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that it should proceed to hear the application for an Interim Order in the Registrant’s absence.
The application

5. Ms Eales applied for an Interim Suspension Order for a period of 18 months to cover the appeal period and any subsequent appeal. She submitted that in view of the Panel’s findings and the sanction imposed, an Interim Suspension Order was necessary to protect the public and was otherwise in the public interest.

6. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It was mindful of its finding that a Striking Off Order was necessary to protect the public and to satisfy the public interest.

7. The Panel had regard to its findings of misconduct, current impairment and sanction and concluded that an Interim Order is necessary to protect the public and is otherwise in the public interest in order to cover the 28 day period during which the Registrant could appeal and any subsequent appeal period.

8. For the same reasons given in its determination on sanction, the Panel concluded that an Interim Conditions of Practice would not be appropriate. It concluded that the only proportionate Interim Order was an Interim Suspension Order for the period of 18 months to cover any appeal period.

9. 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.

10. 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 Mr Simon Manning

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/07/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off