Mrs Hellen Ekka
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By reason of your physical and/or mental health, your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired.
Application to amend the allegation
1. Ms Eales applied to amend the allegation.
2. Dr Persaud also made an application to amend.
3. The Panel decided to allow the application made by Ms Eales on behalf of the HCPC in its entirety.
4. The Panel decided to refuse the two applications made by Dr Persaud.
Hearing the case in private
5. Both parties, and the Panel, worked on the understanding that the hearing would be heard in private, this being a matter that related exclusively to the Registrant’s health.
6. JM was called to give evidence on behalf of the HCPC.
7. The Registrant gave evidence.
8. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker.
9. The Registrant commenced working as a Social Worker for Essex County Council on 1 April 2014 in the Children in Care Team.
10. On 11 March 2016, a complaint was made in relation to her practice.
11. A referral was made to the HCPC, as a result of which health concerns were raised.
12. JM was instructed to assess the Registrant and produce a report. The case for the HCPC was based on this report, which was dated 27 October 2017.
Decision on Facts
13. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It understood that it must ask whether the HCPC had proved, on the balance of probabilities, that the Registrant currently has one or more of the health conditions specified in Schedule A.
14. The Panel found the allegation at Schedule A3 not proved.
15. The Panel found the allegations at Schedule A1 and A2 proved.
Decision on Impairment
16. Ms Eales submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her health condition. Dr Persaud submitted that the Registrant is symptom free, and that as she is currently working without difficulty, her fitness to practise is not currently impaired.
17. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who addressed the Panel on the meaning of impairment.
18. In considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired the Panel reminded itself of the HCPTS’s Practice Note “Health Allegations”.
19. The Panel also concluded that the wider public interest demands a finding of impairment in the circumstances of this case.
20. On the basis of the expert evidence provided by JM, the Panel finds that the Registrant is currently impaired.
Decision on Sanction
21. The Panel heard submissions from both parties.
22. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
23. The Panel kept in mind that the purpose of sanction is not to be punitive but is to protect the public, maintain public confidence in the profession and declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.
24. The Panel took into account the current “Indicative Sanctions Policy” published by the HCPC.
25. The Panel considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity.
26. The Panel concluded that to take no further action or to impose a Caution Order would not be sufficient to protect the public, maintain confidence in the profession and maintain confidence in the regulatory process, because the Registrant posed a risk to the public and the wider public interest for so long as her health condition remained unmanaged.
27. The Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction in the circumstances. The Panel decided that conditions of practice could be formulated which would be workable, proportionate, relevant and enforceable, would provide sufficient protection to the public and would sustain the public interest.
28. The Panel decided that a period of 3 years was proportionate in the circumstances, and would give the Registrant adequate time to comply with the Conditions imposed.
29. The Panel concluded that a Suspension Order would be disproportionate in the circumstances in light of the fact that conditions of practice could be formulated which would provide a sufficient safeguard whilst allowing the Registrant to work as a Social Worker.
ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the HCPC Register to show that for a period of 3 years from the date that this Order takes effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Mrs Hellen Ekka, must comply with Conditions of Practice.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry.
History of Hearings for Mrs Hellen Ekka
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