Mr Calum Harris

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW90476

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 25/06/2018 End: 12:00 25/06/2018

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and during the course of your employment at Hampshire County Council between October 2015 and February 2016, you:

 

1. Breached professional boundaries in relation to Service User A, in that you continued to visit and / or communicate with Service User A after it had been decided by management that he had no on-going social care needs.

 

2. On or around 12 February 2016, created electronic records to indicate that Service User A had ongoing social care needs that he did not have.

 

3. Did not undertake appropriate reviews of residential placements as required in relation to:

a. Service User B;

b. Service User C.

 

4. In relation to Service User D, you did not undertake the steps to and / or record the steps taken to find supported accommodation.

 

5. In relation to Service User E:

a. did not undertake and / or record undertaking a transfer CPA prior to her moving into accommodation in another local authority;

b. did not arrange local CMHT support.

 

6. In relation to Service User F:

a. discharged her in February 2016 without arranging and / or recording arranging appointments after November 2015;

b. recorded that Service User F would be referred to psychology but did not make and / or record making the referral.

 

7. In relation to Service User G, did not follow up and / or record following up significant safeguarding concerns about him being locked in his flat by his mother using a padlock.

 

8. In relation to Service User H:

a. did not identify and / or raise a safeguarding alert when Service User H told you that he had been tasered;

b. did not produce and / or record producing a care plan for Service User H;

c. did not provide Service User H with the level of intervention and/ or contact required by the risk assessment.

 

9. Did not manage your caseload appropriately, in that between December 2015 and February 2016, you did not record any contacts with Service Users for 16 days.

 

10. The matter set out at Paragraph 2 was dishonest.

 

11. The matters set out in Paragraphs 1 - 9 constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

 

12. The matters set out in Paragraph 10 constitutes misconduct.

 

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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proceeding in absence

1. The Panel was satisfied that good service had been effected. The Registrant did not appear nor was he represented.

2. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Senior applied for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that the Registrant had been notified of the date, time and location of the hearing at his registered address and that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.

3. Having considered the revised HCPTS Practice Note on proceeding in absence and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162 (“the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations against medical practitioners is of real importance”), the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable notice of today’s hearing.  He had not applied for an adjournment and had voluntarily absented himself.  There was no indication that he would attend at a later date if today’s hearing were to be adjourned. In balancing the Registrant’s interest and the public interest, the Panel decided that the matter should be heard expeditiously. The Panel had in mind that the Registrant had engaged constructively with the HCPC in agreeing to bring the proceedings to a conclusion and that the purpose of this hearing was to give effect to that agreement. It would be unfair to both parties not to proceed or to prolong the process.

Background

4. The Registrant was employed as Social Worker at Hampshire County Council (HCC) from 28 May 2013 until 7 October 2016 when he was summarily dismissed due to gross incompetence. Concerns had been raised during the period from October 2015 to February 2016 about a breach of professional boundaries in relation to an inappropriate hug with a service user and acting dishonestly in recording that the same service user had ongoing social care needs when he did not. It was also alleged that he had failed to record or complete actions, including residential placement reviews, care plans, mental health referrals or risk assessments in relation to seven other vulnerable Service Users (B to H). The matter was referred to the HCPC in November 2016. 
5. The Investigating Committee Panel considered the matter on 28 June 2017 and found a case to answer in respect of the following allegation, the particulars of which are self-explanatory:

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and during the course of your employment at Hampshire County Council between October 2015 and February 2016, you:

1. Breached professional boundaries in relation to Service User A, in that you continued to visit and / or communicate with Service User A after it had been decided by management that he had no on-going social care needs.

2. On or around 12 February 2016, created electronic records to indicate that Service User A had ongoing social care needs that he did not have.

3. Did not undertake appropriate reviews of residential placements as required in relation to:

a. Service User B;
b. Service User C.

4. In relation to Service User D, you did not undertake the steps to and / or record the steps taken to find supported accommodation.

5. In relation to Service User E:

a. did not undertake and / or record undertaking a transfer CPA prior to her moving into accommodation in another local authority;

b. did not arrange local CMHT support.

6. In relation to Service User F:

a. discharged her in February 2016 without arranging and / or recording arranging appointments after November 2015;
b. recorded that Service User F would be referred to psychology but did not make and / or record making the referral.

7. In relation to Service User G, did not follow up and / or record following up significant safeguarding concerns about him being locked in his flat by his mother using a padlock.
8. In relation to Service User H:

a. did not identify and / or raise a safeguarding alert when Service User H told you that he had been tasered;
b. did not produce and / or record producing a care plan for Service User H;
c. did not provide Service User H with the level of intervention and/ or contact required by the risk assessment.

9. Did not manage your caseload appropriately, in that between December 2015 and February 2016, you did not record any contacts with Service Users for 16 days.

10. The matter set out at Paragraph 2 was dishonest.

11. The matters set out in Paragraphs 1 - 9 constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

12. The matters set out in Paragraph 10 constitutes misconduct.

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

6. The Registrant did not provide a substantive written response to the allegation but he sent an email to confirm that he intended to engage with the regulatory process.  He sent a further email on 1 January 2018 in which he admitted the allegation, stated that he had no intention of returning to the profession and said that he was experiencing health difficulties. He was also planning to live abroad. He repeated this response in his pre-hearing information form on 17 March 2018.  The HCPC therefore wrote to the Registrant with a view to securing his consent to dispose of the case by means of a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA).

7. The HCPC and the Registrant have since agreed that a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA) is the appropriate final disposal. The Registrant has signed the VRA, dated 27 March 2018 with a proposed operative date of 25 June 2018, in which he confirmed his understanding that the HCPC will not consider any future application for restoration to the register for a period of at least five years as a consequence of the agreement. The HCPC has agreed that this is an appropriate case for such a disposal, subject to the final approval of the Panel.  

8. For the HCPC, Ms Senior outlined the history of the case. She drew the Panel’s attention to the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent (updated in March 2018) and submitted that the VRA would adequately protect the public for the reason that the Registrant would not be able to return to practice for a period of at least five years.

9. Ms Senior further submitted that the proposed VRA was in the public interest for the following reasons:

• The allegation did not relate to serious misconduct or attitudinal issues.

• The breach of professional boundaries in relation to Service User A was not of a sexual or other inappropriate nature and it was not done to obtain any benefit or advantage.

• The dishonesty was of relatively minor nature, restricted to one record, and disclosed by the Registrant to his employer.
• The nature of the allegation is such that, if proved, it was unlikely to result in a strike-off sanction at a final hearing.

• It would be contrary to the public interest and the Registrant’s own interest to put him through the cycle of review hearings arising from a lesser sanction when he has already made it clear that he has no intention of returning to practice.

• A voluntary disposal would avoid the need to call Service User A, a vulnerable service user with mental health difficulties as a witness.

• The Registrant has indicated that he has health issues, and there is no reason to doubt this, although the HCPC has received no independent medical evidence.

• The Registrant has signed the VRA, thereby accepting that his current fitness to practise is impaired and confirming he has no intention of returning to the profession.

Decision

10. The Panel considered the public protection test as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on the Disposal of Cases by Consent and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel concluded that this was an appropriate case for voluntary removal from the register. The Registrant had engaged constructively with the regulatory process, but he has not practised as a Social Worker since 2016 and he has indicated his firm intention not to return to the profession.  

11. The Panel’s view was that the Registrant was a young and relatively inexperienced Social Worker. He was placed in a demanding role, for which he was qualified, but he struggled in his dealings with vulnerable service users.

12. The Panel noted that the Registrant had admitted his faults and expressed remorse for his failings in his email dated 1 January 2018.  In his email dated 21 March 2018 he said that he was changing his career and was moving on with his life and he also thanked the HCPC for agreeing to proceed with a VRA.

13. The Panel concluded that the public would be protected by the Registrant’s agreement to his removal from the register. The Registrant had signed the VRA in which he undertook not to practise as a Social Worker or to use any protected title associated with the profession. In signing the agreement, he also understood that any application for restoration to register would be treated as if he had been struck off the register as a result of the allegation. The practical effect of the agreement was that he could not re-apply to for registration for five years.

14. The Panel was satisfied that a voluntary removal from the register was in the wider public interest for the reasons outlined above that were set out by Ms Senior for the HCPC. The breach of professional boundaries was a relatively minor incident with no sexual motivation. The single instance of dishonesty related to allowing ongoing care for the same service user when the case should have been closed. The other admitted failings related to conducting and recording plans, visits and assessments.  If proved, the allegation would not have resulted in striking off.  There was no useful practical purpose in a lesser sanction with a subsequent cycle of reviews when the Registrant lives abroad and does not intend to return to the profession.

15. A reasonable member of the public with knowledge of the facts of the case would agree that the public interest was served by resolving the matter by means of a VRA. The Panel was therefore satisfied that proceeding in this way would not undermine public confidence in the profession or the regulator. There was no detriment to the public interest. The Panel furthermore approved the agreement as an appropriate and practical means of disposal of the case.

16. On that basis, the Panel approved the signed VRA dated 27 March 2018 and the Panel Chair signed the Notice of Withdrawal.

Order

The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Calum Harris from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Calum Harris

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
25/06/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed