Mrs Jannette May Ryan

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW66036

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 05/07/2018 End: 11:30 05/07/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

 

1. Received a referral on or around 19 June 2015, in relation to Service User A, which raised safeguarding concerns and you did not:

a) Not proved;

b) Not proved;

c) Not proved;

d) Initiate a MASH referral;

e) Not proved;

f) Conduct and/or record a Mental Capacity Assessment of Service User A.

2. Did not complete and/or record the Section 42 enquiry in respect of Service User A.

3. Received a referral from the police on 4 August 2015, namely a Person A had been arrested for making threats to kill Service User A, and you:

a) Did not conduct a capacity assessment of Service User A;

b) Closed the case with no further action on 13 August 2015 without having and/or recording a discussion with a manager.

4. Received a referral from the police on 11 August 2015, namely that Service User A had been the victim of an assault by Person A, and you closed the case on 13 August 2015 and did not:

a) Visit Service User A;

b) Discuss and/or record a discussion with a manager.  

5. Did not adequately complete a Safeguarding Investigating Worker Report, in preparation for the Enquiry Meeting, in that it did not address:

a) The views and wishes of Service User A;

b) What action had been taken at that point to protect Service User A;

c) Consideration of advocacy for Service User A;

d) Consideration of capacity of Service User A;

e) Risk to Service User A;

f) Consultation with Service User A’s GP in relation to medication.

6. You completed and generated an ACM3D and an Individual Placement Agreement, prior to obtaining agreement from Service User C’s family in relation to the payment of the top up fee.

7. Following your meeting with the family of Service User C on 3 February 2015, you did not cancel the Individual Placement Agreement when you learnt that there was no agreement to pay the top up fee.  

8. The matters set out in paragraphs in 1-7 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence. 

 

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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proof of Service

1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been posted on 5 June 2018 by first class post, to the address shown for the Registrant on the HCPC register.  The Panel was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (as amended).

Proceeding in Absence

2. The HCPC made an application for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor and followed that advice. The Panel also took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

3. The Panel determined that it was fair, reasonable and in the public interest to proceed in the Registrant’s absence for the following reasons:

a) The Panel noted that the Registrant did not attend the substantive hearing in November 2017 and the HCPC has received no communication from her since. In these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance was voluntary and therefore a deliberate waiver of her right to attend and her right to participate in these proceedings.

b) There has been no application to adjourn and no indication from the Registrant that she would attend on an alternative date and therefore re-listing this final hearing would serve no useful purpose.

c) In these circumstances, as this is a mandatory review the Registrant’s interests are outweighed by the strong public interest in ensuring that the hearing proceeds expeditiously.

Background

4. The relevant background for the purposes of this review is set out below.

5. The Registrant is a Social Worker registered at the HCPC. At the relevant time, the Registrant was employed as a Social Worker at Stoke-on-Trent Council (the Council).

6. The Registrant started working as a Social Worker at the Council in January 2005. On 11 June 2015, she joined the ‘Tunstall Team’ as a Level 10 Social Worker. In that role she was involved in the assessment and management of complex cases, including cases which involved the safeguarding of adults aged 18 and over. Despite a reorganisation, there was considerable continuity between the Registrant’s previous work and her work on the newly-created team.

7. The Council used an electronic case management system for storing records. This system was called Care First. The expectation was that Care First should be updated promptly and each time a worker had a discussion with anyone related to the case. There were a number of components to the Care First electronic system, which included forms to complete, as well as observation logs.

8. Service User A had a learning disability, was unable to manage her finances, needed support with taking her medication and required small amounts of prompting with managing her personal care. Service User A lived with her husband, Person A, who also had learning difficulties, as well as other issues. Both service users were well-known to the Council and to the police.

9. On 17 June 2015, a new referral in respect of Service User A came into the Council. It was made by HM, a member of staff at an independent service provider agency, which provided support to service users in a number of areas including housing, financial assistance and debt management. Her referral detailed issues that Service User A was said to be nervous whilst in her property and allegations of exploitation by a neighbour, Person C.

10. On 19 June 2015, the case was allocated to the Registrant, who had previous dealings with Service User A, according to Service User A’s notes. She visited Service User A’s property on that day with a support worker. She accessed the First Contact form within the Care First system on that day, and made entries within it.

11. On 4 August 2015, a second referral was received in respect of Service User A. This second referral was made to the Council by the police, following an allegation made by Service User A that her husband (Person A) had threatened to kill her.

12. On 11 August 2015, a third referral was received in respect of Service User A. This third referral was made to the Council by the police and was as a result of Person A being arrested and charged with assaulting Service User A.

13. On 20 August 2015, a safeguarding meeting was held in respect of Service User A.

14. Service User C was a lady in her 70s who lived in a residential nursing placement. She went into residential care after she left hospital. When the Registrant was allocated the case, Service User C was already in residential care and had been self-funding her residential care for a long time. A referral was made by Service User C’s family to the Council, to state that her funds had dropped below the threshold set by Local Government. The Registrant was therefore allocated to the case to determine whether the Council would pick up the funding.

15. The Registrant did not attend the HCPC final hearing which took place on 6-9 November 2017 and that panel went on to find that most of the  particulars found proved amounted to misconduct. The panel determined that with regard to impairment:

‘…there were some indications within the papers that the Registrant had some insight into her failures within her practice. There were her admissions to her employers during the investigatory and disciplinary process, and she is recorded as saying that she wanted to learn form her mistakes. Although she was unable to explain herself and the particular failures in the disciplinary proceedings, she did say it was not the way she normally worked. In the documentation, the Registrant repeatedly refers to feeling “overwhelmed”, despite the Council saying that her caseload was light, at 18, with only 3 ‘ongoing’ cases, compared to 20-22 overall cases for most of her colleagues. She had apologised and demonstrated remorse during the disciplinary proceedings, and TG had told the Panel that it was clear to her that the Registrant was distressed by the process. The Panel notes that the Registrant had a 30-year unblemished record with the Council, the final 10 years of which had been as a Social Worker.’

16. The panel subsequently imposed a 8-month Suspension Order having identified the following mitigating factors:

• The managerial oversight of the Registrant was not particularly supportive;

• The Registrant had made admissions and demonstrated remorse during the Council’s disciplinary process;

• The Registrant had a previously unblemished career of 30 years at the Council, the last 10 years of which had been in the role of Social Worker.

17. The panel suggested that a reviewing panel may be assisted by the following:

• The participation of the Registrant, ideally in person or, alternatively, through other means such as via telephone, with representation, or written submissions;

• A reflective piece identifying her insight into the actions that gave rise to the allegations and their impact on others;

• Evidence of training relevant to the assessment and management of risk, mental capacity assessments, structured record keeping, and any other relevant training;

• Testimonials from colleagues and managers relevant at any recent workplace, including voluntary work.

HCPC Submissions

18. Ms Mbah, on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the background circumstances and the history of this case. She referred the Panel to the information that the previous panel had suggested the Registrant may wish to provide to assist this reviewing panel. Ms Mbah submitted that, as the Registrant has not provided any information with regards to insight and remediation, her current fitness to practice remains impaired. She reminded the Panel of the power to direct a Striking Off Order but invited the Panel to consider giving the Registrant a further opportunity to engage with the regulatory process and to provide the information that the substantive hearing panel stated would be of assistance at a review hearing.  

Panel’s Approach

19. In undertaking this review, the Panel took into account the hearing bundle and the submissions from Ms Mbah, on behalf of the HCPC.

20. The Panel accepted and applied the advice it received from the Legal Assessor as to the proper approach it should adopt. In particular that:

• The purpose of the review is to consider the issue of impairment based on the previous panel’s findings of fact, the extent to which the Registrant has engaged with the regulatory process, the scope and level of her insight and the risk of repetition.

• In terms of whether her previous misconduct has been sufficiently and appropriately remedied relevant factors include whether the Registrant:

(i) fully appreciates the gravity of the previous panel’s finding of impairment;
(ii) has maintained her skills and knowledge;
(iii)  is likely to place service users at risk if she were to return to unrestricted practice.

• The Panel should have regard to the HCPTS Practice Note: Finding that Fitness to Practise is impaired and must take account of a range of issues which, in essence, comprise two components:

(i) the ‘personal’ component: the current competence, behaviour etc. of the individual registrant; and
(ii) the ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.

• It is only if the Panel determines that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, that the Panel should go on to consider sanction by applying the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP), and the principles of proportionality which require the Registrant’s interests to be balanced against the interests of the public.


Decision  

21. The Panel noted that there was no engagement from the Registrant at the substantive hearing and there has been no engagement during the review process. In particular, the Registrant had not taken the opportunity to provide the information that the previous panel indicated would be of assistance. As a consequence of the Registrant’s non-engagement there was no evidence before the Panel that she fully appreciates the gravity of the failings identified by the final hearing panel. In addition, there was no explanation as to how the Registrant would behave differently in the future and no assurance that the deficiencies in her practice have been remedied by the development of her skills and knowledge and would therefore not be repeated. In the absence of any insight and any steps she has taken towards remediation, the Panel concluded that there is a real risk of repetition.

22. In the absence of any positive evidence of insight and remediation, the Panel concluded that there has been no material change in circumstances, with regards to the risk to service users and the consequential impact on public trust and confidence. Members of the public would be concerned to learn that a social worker, working with vulnerable service users, had failed to protect their interests and would expect some form of restriction on the Registrant’s practice until these shortcomings had been sufficiently addressed. The Panel also concluded that a finding of no impairment would undermine the need to uphold the high standards expected of all registered social workers and public confidence in the HCPC as a professional regulator, given the nature and seriousness of the Registrants previous conduct and behaviour.

23. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.  

24. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired the Panel went on to consider what sanction, if any, to impose.

25. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel concluded that, in view of the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct, to take no action on her registration would be inappropriate. Furthermore, it would be insufficient to protect the public, maintain public confidence and uphold the reputation of the profession.

26. The Panel went on to consider a Caution Order. As the Registrant has demonstrated no insight into her misconduct other than during the internal disciplinary process, and has provided no evidence of remediation, the Panel concluded that the risk of repetition remains and that a Caution Order would be inappropriate and insufficient to protect the public and to meet the wider public interest.

27. The Panel was unable to formulate any workable or measurable conditions. In reaching this conclusion the Panel noted that the Registrant’s current professional and personal circumstances are unknown, and she has not provided any of the information that was suggested by the final hearing panel. In any event, the Panel concluded that, whilst the Registrant’s commitment to remediation remains unknown, a Conditions of Practice Order would not satisfy the public or the wider public interest.

28. The Panel next considered extending the current Suspension Order for a further period of time. A Suspension Order would send a further signal to the Registrant, the profession and the public re-affirming the standards expected of a registered social worker practitioner. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from practising during the extended suspension period, which would therefore protect the public and the wider public interest. A Suspension Order would also provide the Registrant with the opportunity to consider her future, develop the skills and knowledge required to return to practice and put specific plans in place.

29. The Panel took into account paragraph 41 of the ISP 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.’

30. The Panel took the view that while the above paragraph may apply to the Registrant. The panel determined that the Registrant should be given a further opportunity to consider carefully the decision of the final hearing panel and of this Panel and properly focus on the issues that have been identified.

31. The Panel determined that the Suspension Order should be imposed for a period of 12 months. The Panel was satisfied that this period would be sufficient for the Registrant to demonstrate that she is committed to addressing the deficiencies in her practice and working towards a return to practice.

32. The Panel decided a Striking Off Order, would be disproportionate as the shortcomings in the Registrant’s practise are capable of being remedied, there remains a possibility that the Registrant is able to demonstrate remediation and in light of the mitigation identified by the previous panel. However, although this Panel cannot bind a future reviewing panel, a Striking Off Order may be imposed if the Registrant’s non-engagement continues.

33. The extended Suspension Order will be reviewed shortly before expiry. A future reviewing panel would expect the Registrant to attend the review hearing and provide evidence that she has made significant steps towards a safe and effective return to practise.  Therefore, the following may be of assistance:

• The participation of the Registrant, ideally in person or, alternatively, through other means such as via telephone, with representation, or written submissions;

• A reflective piece identifying her insight into the actions that gave rise to the allegations and their impact on others;

• Evidence of training relevant to the assessment and management of risk, mental capacity assessments, structured record keeping, and any other relevant training and any other training relevant to her continuing professional development;

• References and/or testimonials from colleagues and managers relevant at any recent workplace, including voluntary work.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mrs Jannette May Ryan for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Jannette May Ryan

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
05/07/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
06/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended