Muhammad Tahseen

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW98638

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 26/07/2018 End: 11:00 26/07/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 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, between 25 February 2015 and 2 March 2015:


1. You provided an agency with a false email address for a referee.

2. You provided and/or asked someone else to provide the agency with a false reference from that email address.

3. Your actions described in paragraph 1 and 2 were dishonest.

4. The matters described in paragraphs 1 to 3 constitute misconduct.

5. By reason of that misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Application for the Hearing to be Held in Private

1. Ms Senior on behalf of the HCPC applied for those parts of the Hearing relating to the Registrant’s personal life to be heard in private. Mr Tahseen, representing himself was in agreement with this application. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

2. The Panel determined that it would hear those parts of the case in which reference was made to the private life of the Registrant in private, under Rule 10 (1)(a) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (‘the Rules’).  In making this decision the Panel acknowledged that there is a presumption that hearings will be held in public. The decision is to protect the private life of the Registrant which the Panel considers outweighs the public interest in this instance.

Background

3. At the relevant time the Registrant was a registered Social Worker. After working for some years as a Social Worker in Pakistan. Between 2010 and 2012, the Registrant studied an MSc course at the University of Greenwich. The course was entitled Research in Health and Social Care. The Programme Leader in respect of that course was Dr. CM.  The contact between the Registrant and Dr CM continued for the duration of the Registrant’s enrolment on the course. This was a period of approximately two years.

4.  In late February 2015, Mrs CL, a Senior Recruitment Consultant, discovered a copy of the Registrant’s CV on the internet.  Mrs CL made contact with the Registrant with a view to him registering with the recruitment company for which she worked.  Having made contact Mrs CL sent the Registrant an application form. The Registrant returned the completed application form and amongst the various supporting documents he submitted there was a list of potential referees.

5.  Included in the list of referees was the name of Dr CM, together with an email and  postal addresses for Dr CM After Mrs CL sent an email to the email address, requesting a reference, and enclosing a reference template document, a reference purportedly completed by Dr CM was returned to her.

6.  The email address was not that of the individual, Dr CM, to whom the Registrant had attributed it, with the deliberate intention of misleading.  The disputed reference was typed and then sent by email, either by the Registrant himself or by another person at his behest. The Panel noted the dishonest deception was maintained for a period well in excess of a fortnight.

7. The Panel who heard the substantive case noted the Registrant persisted in his denial of dishonesty and demonstrated no remorse. The facts were all found proved and the Registrant’s actions were found to be dishonest. The panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s behaviour amounted to misconduct and a finding of impairment was made.

8.   A Suspension Order for a period of 12 months was imposed on 1 August 2017 and took effect on 29 August 2017. The Panel in its deliberations applied the principle of proportionality and balanced the rights of the Registrant with the rights of the public.

Decision

9. This is a review of the substantive Suspension Order imposed on 1 August 2017, which came into effect on 29 August 2017 upon expiry of the appeal period. This order will therefore expire on 29 August 2018.

10.   The Panel heard evidence on oath from the Registrant and representations on behalf of both the HCPC and the Registrant. It also considered bundles of documentation, two from the HCPC comprising 122 and 28 pages respectively. This included substantial documentation from the Registrant in addition to the 4 page bundle he submitted today.

11. The Panel sought to obtain further information about the nature and circumstances of the Registrant’s voluntary work and the information he provided to the agency about his 12 month suspension order and the finding of dishonest behaviour as a Social Worker. The Hearing was adjourned for a short period to allow this further information to be obtained at the request of the Panel with the agreement of Parties.

12. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

13.   In undertaking its task today, the Panel is not undertaking a rehearing of the matters which were brought against the Registrant, nor going behind previous findings. The Panel reminded itself that the decision as to what is the appropriate and proportionate disposal at this review hearing is a matter for its judgment alone.

14. The Panel recognised that, at a review, it has to consider whether the concerns raised in the finding of impairment through misconduct have been sufficiently addressed to its satisfaction.  In practical terms this means that there is a persuasive burden on the Registrant at a review to demonstrate that he has acknowledged past failings, and has sufficiently addressed past impairment.

15. The Panel noted the information which the previous panel of 1 August 2017 indicated the Registrant might wish to present to the review hearing. This included:

• A reflective piece of writing on the Panel’s findings, the seriousness of his misconduct and the impact on him, and on his profession, of that misconduct.

• How he has kept himself up-to-date with developments in his profession.

• Details of any efforts he has made, and of any steps he would intend to take, to return to practise.

• References from any employment, whether paid or unpaid, he has undertaken.

Impairment

16.  Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. She submitted that the previous panel had provided the Registrant with the opportunity to demonstrate his insight and remediation of the failings found proved but that he had not taken advantage of these opportunities. The lack of evidence of any insight from the Registrant and his misleading actions today are indicative of a high likelihood of repetition which would put the public at risk. It would also undermine public confidence in the profession. Accordingly, Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant remains impaired.

17.  In terms of sanction, Ms Senior submitted that a Striking-Off Order is now the most appropriate sanction. A further period of suspension would not benefit either the public or the Registrant, as matters are unlikely to progress given the Registrant’s lack of remediation, his repetition of this behaviour and his lack of insight. Ms Senior noted that the Registrant had provided misleading information to the Panel today in order to benefit his own position. Ms Senior invited the Panel to consider a Striking-Off Order, but if the Panel was not in agreement with that, to impose a further 12 months Suspension Order.

18.  The Registrant submitted that his actions today were not intended to mislead. However he did state that he would expect that a member of the public aware of the facts found against him would not expect him still to be allowed to practise as a social worker.

19.   The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel had regard to the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired” of March 2017 and noted the guidance in the case of Cohen v GMC [2008] EWHC 581.

20.   The Panel noted that since the Final Hearing the Registrant has secured paid employment, as a sales executive, whilst suspended as a Social Worker. The Registrant also gave evidence that he has been working as a volunteer with Healthwatch (HWN) and he has been working with “End of life” service users on a one to one basis. He gave evidence that during the interview process in May 2018 he had told HWN of his “suspension” as a Social Worker. He had not discussed the reason for the suspension.

21. The written information received from the Registrant’s employer today in relation to his voluntary role at HWN differed from the Registrant’s evidence on oath to the Panel.

22. HWN informed the Panel that only today (26 July 2018) they had learned of the Registrant’s 12 month suspension for a “dishonest action”. The Registrant had called HWN today with some information once he knew the HCPC was about to contact them.

23. HWN stated that at the Registrant’s interview in May 2018 he told them that he wanted to get back into working in health and social care after some personal difficulties and that he saw volunteering with HWN as a way to help bring him back up to date with health and social care issues.

24.  HWN also informed the Panel that the Registrant had not yet done anything for HWN as a volunteer, apart from attending the annual meeting on 19 July 2018. The Panel noted that as a volunteer the Registrant was on an email circulation list for sharing information about health and social care issues in the county, and he had been included in invitations to attend meetings. HWN stated that he had volunteered to represent them at the Last Years of Life Board, organised by Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.  The Registrant had not yet attended a meeting.

25. The Registrant submitted the following documentation for the Panel’s consideration:

• A reflective piece of writing on the Final Hearing Panel’s findings, the seriousness of his misconduct and the impact on him, and on his profession, of that misconduct.

• An extensive number of Certificates of online training courses undertaken with a view to recommencing his role as a social worker.

• A reference from his employer relating to his ten months of paid work as a sales executive. No reference was submitted in respect of the voluntary work the Registrant stated he had undertaken.

26.   In assessing his evidence, the Panel took into account that the Registrant stated that English was not his first language.

27.  However the Panel considered that the Registrant was not open, honest and transparent in the way he gave his evidence today. The Panel noted the Final Hearing Decision found that “the behaviour was deliberate and pre-planned, there has been continuing denial with no evidence of insight, factors that necessarily mean that there would be a risk of repetition.”

28.  The Panel found the Registrant today to be untruthful and deliberately misleading in his evidence. He demonstrated no insight nor any remorse and even when presented with information that demonstrated that he had not given the Panel correct information he simply stated it was not intentional and did not acknowledge the seriousness of what he had done.

29.  The final hearing panel provided guidance to the Registrant as to what might assist a future panel at a review. It stated “Although the present Panel does not in any way seek to bind a future reviewing panel, the Registrant would be well advised to approach the future review on the basis that without significant steps being taken by him it would be unlikely that there would be an outcome permitting him to return to practise.  He should also bear in mind that the future reviewing panel will have the power to make a Striking-Off order.”

30.  The Panel was of the view that, given that the substantive hearing was in August 2017, this has given the Registrant sufficient opportunity to take the necessary remedial action. The Registrant appeared to have recognised the adverse effect of his actions on himself, but not the impact of his actions on others. Hence, the Panel concluded that there remains a high risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct if he is allowed to practise without restriction.

31. The Panel found that public confidence in the profession and the declaring of proper standards of conduct and performance demanded a finding of current impairment, given the lack of remediation and insight into the proven allegations.

32. The Panel also had regard to the need to protect service users. The Registrant has breached a fundamental tenet of the profession by his dishonest behaviour. The Panel recognised the trust and confidence placed in Social Workers by members of the public, other professionals and service users and was satisfied that a finding of current impairment was required on the basis of public protection.

33.  The Panel determined that the Registrant has demonstrated by his orchestrated and deliberate action to mislead the Panel today that he is still impaired and has still demonstrated no insight or remediation. Without evidence that that the Registrant has insight into his misconduct and seeks to remedy it, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

Sanction

34.  The Panel went on to consider what sanction, if any was required. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality and balanced the rights and interests of the Registrant with the rights and interest of the public. The Panel considered that to impose no further action, or to impose a Caution Order would not be sufficient to address the wider public interest considerations, given that there remains a risk of repetition. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or workable as the Registrant has demonstrated no insight or evidence of remediation into his dishonest behaviour and continued with that behaviour today by seeking to mislead the Panel.

35.  The Panel considered an extension of the current Suspension Order. Although a Suspension Order would provide protection for the public, the Panel considered that it was not the appropriate sanction in circumstances where the Registrant has demonstrated no insight or remediation and actively sought to mislead the Panel today.

36.  The Panel considered that paragraphs 39 and 41 of the HCPC Indicative Sanction Policy on Striking-Off Orders were applicable. In particular, there has been no insight demonstrated by the Registrant to the Panel. The Registrant’s failure to address his misconduct despite the guidance given by the previous panel indicated that he is unable or unwilling to resolve matters, and therefore that a lower sanction is not appropriate

37.  The Panel then considered the option of a Striking-Off Order. It could not ignore the finding of the 2017 panel that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired coupled with the Registrant’s continued failure to remediate and his repeated misleading behaviour today. The nature of this behaviour was not dissimilar to the behaviour which led to the earlier suspension. A further Suspension Order is not in the public interest. It would serve no useful purpose as there appears no realistic prospect of future remediation by the Registrant given his pattern of behaviour.

38.  In its deliberations the Panel took into account the Registrant’s interests, but decided they were outweighed by the public interest, in light of the Registrant’s lack of remediation, lack of remorse and lack of insight.

39.  Accordingly, the Panel decided that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking-Off Order.

Order

No information currently available

Notes

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Muhammad Tahseen from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Muhammad Tahseen

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
26/07/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off