Mr Abid Hussain

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW26896

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 15/05/2018 End: 16:00 16/05/2018

Location: Macdonald Manchester Hotel, 91 London Road, Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2PG

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

Between August 2014 and December 2015 while registered as a Social Worker:

1. During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Mersey Care NHS Trust from August 2014 to April 2015 you:

a) In relation to Service User A
i. Did not make and/or record making, regular visits to Service User A when she was an inpatient during August 2014 to on or around 2 January 2015;
ii. Did not attend the discharge planning review held on or around 16 January 2015 and/or 2 January 2015
iii. Did not record that Service User A had declined any follow up after a safeguarding referral was raised on or around 4 November 2014
iv. Conducted and/or recorded conducting, contact with Service User A on her doorstep on or around 22 January 2015
v. You attempted contact with Service User A on 23 January 2015 but were not able to locate her and did not follow up and/or record following up, with Service User A;
vi. Did not complete and/or record completing a care plan for Service User A as instructed

b) In relation to Service User B, were allocated the case on or around 26 August 2014 and:
i. You did not contact and/or make a record of contact with, Service User B until 26 February 2015
ii. You did not make face to face contact with Service User B until on or around 10 March 2015
iii. You did not record a CPA care plan in a timely manner and/or at all

c) In relation to Service User C, were allocated the case on or around 26 August 2014 and:
i. You did not attempt to contact and/or make a record of attempted contact with Service User C until 25th February 2015
ii. You were reminded to contact Service User C on or around 19 December 2014, but did not do so in a timely manner and/or record doing so
iii. You were reminded to contact Service User C on or around 16 January 2015 but did not do so in a timely manner and/or record doing so
iv. You did not discuss this case in the multi-disciplinary clinical team meeting
v. You did not meet, and/or record meeting Service User C during the period you were his allocated social worker

d) In relation to Service User D you were allocated two separate safeguarding referrals on or around 11 and on or around 17 December 2014 and:
i. You did not attempt to make contact and/or did not record such attempt until 22 December 2014
ii. You did not conduct and/or record conducting sufficient safeguarding referral investigations
iii. You did not make contact and/or record successful contact, with Service User D and/or her family until 4 February 2015
iv. You did not liaise and/or record liaising with any professionals involved in Service User D’s care

e) In relation to Service User E, you did not conduct and/or record
conducting a safeguarding referral investigation

f) In relation to Service User F
i. You did not make and/or record making contact with Service User F
ii. You did not conduct and/or record conducting a safeguarding referral
investigation

g) In relation to Service User G, were allocated the case on or around 26 August 2014 and:
i. You did not contact and/or make a record of contact with Service User G until 2 March 2015
ii. You were reminded to contact Service User G on or around 19 December 2014 but did not do so and/or record doing so
iii. You were reminded to contact Service User G on or around 16 January 2015 but did not do so and/or record doing so
iv. You did not draft and/or amend the CPA care plan after your face to face contact with Service User G on 10 March 2015
v. You did not record risk assessment documentation after your face to face contact with Service User G on 10 March 2015 and/or 30 March 2015

2. During the recruitment process at Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust you:

a) On or around 26 October 2015, did not disclose on your application form that:
i. There was an on-going Health and Care Professions Council
investigation into your fitness to practise
ii. Your contract with Parklodge Community Mental Health Team was terminated

b) On or around 29 December 2015, on your pre-employment declaration form, answered ‘no’ to the following questions:
i. Are you currently or have you ever been the subject of any investigation or fitness to practise proceedings by any licensing or regulatory body in the United Kingdom or in any other country?
ii. Are you currently bound over, or do you have any convictions or cautions (including warnings and reprimands) which are not deemed ‘protected’ under the amendment to the Exceptions Order 1975, issued by a Court or Court-Martial in the United Kingdoms or in any other country?
iii. Have you ever been dismissed by reason of misconduct from any employment, volunteering, office or other position previously held by you?

3. The matters described in paragraph 2 were dishonest.

4. The matters described in paragraph 1 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence

5. The matters set out in paragraphs 2-3 constitute misconduct

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

Finding

Background


1. The Registrant was an agency Social Worker employed at Mersey Care NHS Trust (the Trust) in its Park Lodge Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) from 26 August 2014. The CMHT was an integrated multi-disciplinary team which worked with service users who had severe and enduring mental health problems. The Registrant’s role was to assess service users, prepare care plans and review risk and act as care coordinator using  the Care Programme Approach (CPA).
 
2. Concerns about the Registrant’s practice were raised April 2015 with regard to a Service User A who had died in February 2015, and the Trust also conducted an investigation into his practice in general.

HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) evidence


3. Details of the Registrant’s personal circumstances were referred to on a number of occasions during the hearing. At the direction of the Panel, pursuant to rule 10(1)(a) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003, this evidence was heard in private, and taken account of by the Panel when making their decisions.


Particular 1
 
4. Witness 1 is a registered social worker and was one of three Deputy Managers at the Trust with responsibility for managing the Park Lodge CMHT and supervising the social workers in it, including the Registrant. Witness 1 confirmed the contents of his witness statement dated 15 June 2016. He stated that the Registrant’s caseload was about 30 cases and supervision would occur every four to six weeks. The Registrant did not raise any concerns about his caseload or other issues during supervision from August to December 2015. When cross-examined by the Registrant, Witness 1 said that he could not recall the Registrant stating at interview that he would only take the job if he had additional support. 

5. Witness 1 explained that the Trust’s CPA policy detailed the requirements placed on professionals when working with service users subject to the CPA, so that high risk service users should be seen every one to two weeks, even if the service user was an inpatient. Witness 1 had some concerns about the Registrant’s practice which he raised during supervision in December 2014 and afterwards.

6. When reviewing Service User A’s records, Witness 1 noted that the Registrant, Service User A’s social worker, did not attend, as he should have done, the discharge planning meetings on 2 January 2015 and 16 January 2015. Service User A continued to be at risk of self-harm even as an inpatient. She had suffered long term serious psychiatric problems for over 20 years.

7. After Service User A’s discharge, Witness 1 said that there was a policy to see service users within 48 hours of discharge and follow up within seven days. The Trust’s electronic records (ePEX) contained the Registrant’s note that he tried to contact Service User A at home on 22 January 2015, following her discharge on 19 January 2015; she spoke to him on the front step but refused to let him in. Witness 1 said that the Registrant should have made further efforts to contact Service User A, and not left it to a support worker to see her several days later.

8. Witness 1 also stated that it had been agreed with the Registrant in supervision on 30 September 2014 that he should prepare an enhanced care plan for Service User A. Despite further prompts, there was no such care plan prepared by the Registrant placed on the ePEX record system.

9. With regard to Service User B, Witness 1 stated that in supervision on 19 December 2014, he learned that the Registrant had not contacted Service User B since allocation on 26 August 2014. Subsequent ePEX notes made by the Registrant show an unsuccessful attempt to make telephone contact on 16 January 2015 with Service User B, and a successful call on 26 February 2015 when he arranged a home visit for 6 March 2015. That visit is recorded as taking place on 10 March 2015 together with Service User B’s care worker. This was after a supervision on 4 March 2015 when Witness 1 had again drawn the Registrant’s attention to the need to complete a CPA review, but the Registrant did not prepare one before his departure from the CMHT in April 2015.

10. Witness 1 stated that Service User C, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, was allocated to the Registrant on 26 August 2014, but there is no record of any attempt to make contact with Service User C until 25 February 2015 when the Registrant made an unannounced unsuccessful visit to Service User C’s home. This was despite Witness 1 reminding him of the need to make contact during supervision on 19 December 2014 and 16 January 2015. The Registrant did not raise concerns about lack of engagement with colleagues at the Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) following that unsuccessful attempted contact with Service User C, despite the Registrant’s own record on ePEX that he would discuss in the MDT whether Service User C needed to be on CPA.

11. Service User D suffered from autism and had an emotionally unstable personality disorder. Witness 1 stated that the Registrant was allocated to undertake two separate safeguarding investigations on 11 and 17 December 2014 and these were discussed in supervision with the Registrant by him on 19 December 2014 and by Witness 3 on 16 January 2015. The Registrant told Witness 1 that the investigations were in progress, but they were not completed and recorded by the time of the Registrant’s departure from the Trust. Witness 1 said safeguarding referrals needed to be investigated swiftly because of the potential risk to a service user. When Witness 1 questioned the Registrant about this on 9 and 10 April 2015 during his investigation, he recalled that the Registrant told him he had not in fact conducted the investigation. The Registrant gave no explanation for his failure to carry out these investigations.

12. Service User E suffered from schizophrenia. Witness 1 stated that the Registrant was allocated to undertake a safeguarding investigation on 29 December 2014. Supervision notes recorded that Witness 3 raised the need for the investigation to be carried out on 16 January 2015. There are no records on ePEX relating to such an investigation and Witness 1 said that the Registrant told him on 9 April 2015 that he had investigated but needed to write it up, but that the next day the Registrant told him that he had not carried out the investigation.

13. Service User F suffered from schizophrenia. Witness 1 stated that the Registrant was allocated to undertake a safeguarding investigation on 28 January 2015 following a referral relating to the exploitation of Service User F by his father. The Registrant did not make any attempt to make contact with Service User F until 10 February 2015. The records show this was by telephone and was unsuccessful. Successful contact was made on 13 February 2015. In interview on 9 April 2015, the Registrant told Witness 1 that he needed to write up the investigation, however, on 10 April 2015, the Registrant told him that he had not carried out the investigation.

14. Witness 1 said that the concerns about the Registrant’s practice regarding Service User G, who suffered from schizophrenia, was the same as for Service User C. The Registrant had been allocated the case on 26 August 2014, but did not make contact with Service User G until 2 March 2015 despite reminders in supervision with him on 19 December 2014 and with Witness 3 on 16 January 2015. The first face-to-face contact is recorded as having taken place on 10 March 2015 for a placement review, and there was a further meeting on 30 March 2015 to discuss the annual review. However, Witness 1 said that there was nothing in the case notes to show that the CPA review had been completed as it should have been.

15. Witness 2, a registered Occupational Therapist, was a Project Manager at the Trust and Team Manager for a Mental Health Liaison Team and Access Team. She confirmed the contents of her witness statement dated 4 July 2016 which detailed her role, from January 2015, of undertaking a Root Cause Analysis Level 2 Comprehensive Review for the Trust following the death of Service User A. Whilst the Trust’s CPA Policy referred to seeing service users “on a regular basis”, Witness 2 stated that she would have expected Service User A to be seen by the Registrant at least every two weeks. In her opinion, although she acknowledged that she was not fully familiar with all the circumstances. Witness 2 made notes of her interview on 13 March 2015 with the Registrant in the course of her investigation, when the Registrant said that he saw service User A on a monthly basis. Witness 2 could not find any records of such contact, only an entry for his first contact on 9 September 2014.

16. With regard to whether the Registrant was invited to attend the discharge meetings on 2 and 16 January 2015 regarding Service User A, Witness 2 could not recall whether it was the inpatient consultant or the Acting Ward Manager who informed her that the Registrant had been invited to attend. Witness 2 did not pursue the matter of an invitation to the Registrant by requesting email evidence. Her final report recorded that it was the inpatient consultant who told her that he had invited the Registrant by email to attend both of the discharge meetings.

17. Witness 3, registered Nurse, was a Deputy Manager at the Trust from September 2014 based at the Park Lodge CMHT. She confirmed the contents of her witness statement dated 6 June 2016. Her role involved the management and supervision of health and social care staff within the integrated CMHT. Witness 3 undertook one supervision session with the Registrant on 16 January 2015, in the absence of Witness 1. During that supervision the Registrant raised personal difficulties he was encountering, and said he was feeling under pressure, but she did not recall him asking for additional support at work. There was a shortage of managers at this time at the Park Lodge CMHT; there were three managers, but she was the only manager covering the teams at this time.

18. In the supervision session, she followed up matters which had been discussed in the supervision of 19 December 2014. She had no specific knowledge of the actual cases discussed. As recorded in her  supervision notes, this resulted in further  prompts to take action on a number of cases. This was to visit Service Users B, C and F, and to carry out safeguarding investigations for service Users D and E.

19. There were two recording systems in use, ePEX and Liquid Logic. Witness 3 did recall that there were problems with the Liquid Logic computer system hosted by the Local Authority. There were times when new passwords were needed, which required an email to a manager who would then contact Liquid Logic for a new password which had to be communicated to the team member who needed it.

20. Witness 3 recalled that the Registrant did contact her on another occasion in a very distressed state relating to his personal circumstances, but no adjustments were made to his working conditions.


21. Witness 4, registered Social Worker was the third Manager at the Park Lodge CMHT, in addition to Witnesses 1 and 3. Witness 4 explained that he was the overall manager for the Park Lodge CMHT and it was his decision to give the required one week’s notice to the agency to end the Registrant’s agency work with the Trust. He undertook supervision with the Registrant on two occasions, but notes were only available for the supervision session on 4 March 2015. Prior to that supervision, there was an occasion when the Registrant spoke to him in a distressed state in relation to his personal circumstances. Witness 4 stated that this had prompted him to consult with the Registrant’s agency, who gave reassurances as to the Registrant’s previous social work experience, positive references and ability to carry out his role at Park Lodge CMHT. After this conversation Witness 4 decided not to end the Registrant’s contract.

Particular 2


22. Witness 5, a registered Nurse, was the Team Manager of the Early Intervention Team of Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust (GMWFT) and she confirmed the contents of her witness statement dated 19 January 2017. She was the Registrant’s line manager when he was an agency worker working in the Bolton Early Intervention Team from July 2015 to January 2016. She was also his line manager from February 2016 when he obtained a substantive Band 6 Care Coordinator role in the same team.  His employment had been confirmed after the Registrant had disclosed at the end of January 2016, for the first time, that he did have an old conviction, from 1992, in relation to stealing a car and fraud.

23. Witness 5 was appointed to conduct an investigation in April 2016 regarding the Registrant’s answers to questions on the application for the Band 6 post and the Pre-Employment Check Form relating to whether he had ever been convicted of an offence or the subject of any regulatory investigation.  The Registrant had answered ‘no’ to both questions.  Witness 5 exhibited copies of both the completed application form dated 26 October 2015 and the completed Pre-Employment Check Form dated 29 December 2015, and the DBS Enhanced Certificate dated 24 January 2016.

24. Witness 5 confirmed that she had had no concerns about the Registrant’s work whilst she had been his line manager.

25. The HCPC also relied on the signed witness statement of Witness 6, a paralegal with the HCPC’s solicitors, Kingsley Napley LLP, whose evidence related to her successful attempts to obtain confirmation of his convictions.

26. On closing the HCPC’s case, Mr Ferson stated that, having taken account of the evidence given by the HCPC witnesses, he formally offered no evidence on particulars 1(d)(iii), 2(a)(ii) and 2(b)(iii) of the Allegation.

Registrant’s evidence


27. The Registrant gave oral evidence. The Registrant said the criminal proceedings back in 1992 had been a turning point in his life and he had decided to contribute to society. He explained that he has always worked with vulnerable people initially for 11 years in residential homes in the Oldham area, before qualifying as a social worker in 2003. After qualifying, the Registrant stated that he had predominantly worked as an agency social worker as it provided a better work/life balance, but had been employed in two substantive posts of three years each during that time.

Particular 1


28. The Registrant stated that he had never previously had any problems in his practice before working at Park Lodge, which was a bad experience. He stated that he enjoyed social work and found it a rewarding career. When he joined the team at Park Lodge he had been given the impression that Park Lodge was well organised, in fact, he found that changes were taking place and morale was low. The Registrant also said that the management team were remote, both physically (on another floor of the building) and in relation to working practices in that he was used to managers having much more contact with the social workers and other team members.

29. The Registrar also stated that this period of employment was at a time of considerable personal difficulties.

30. The Registrant stated that he now recognised that he should have identified that his personal difficulties were so significant that he should have removed himself from his role at Park Lodge. He emphasised that he never had any intention to put service users at risk, but had not felt that he was getting the appropriate support from his managers. When the Panel asked why he did not raise this lack of support with his managers, in supervision or otherwise, the Registrant said that he did not feel that he could raise criticisms of his managers directly with those managers.

31. With regard to Service User A, the Registrant said that he did feel that he had sufficient contact with her. Contact was monthly, mostly via his attendance at ward meetings which he stated he considered sufficient given the facts that she was a long-term service user and was an inpatient until January 2015. He had organised Service User A moving to a different ward because he had recognised issues of bullying on the ward. The Registrant said that he had not been invited to either of the discharge meetings on 2 and 16 January 2015, and had always understood that a discharge meeting would be rearranged if the social worker was not in attendance. As soon as he learned of the first discharge he had swiftly arranged Service User A’s readmission to hospital because her flat had not been made ready for her. The Registrant could not recall now why he had not recorded Service User A declining any follow up after the safeguarding referral was raised in November 2014. He had conducted a contact with Service User A on her doorstep because she would not let him in, and recorded this. The Registrant accepted that he did not complete, or record completing, a care plan for Service User A.

32. The Registrant stated that Service User B was allocated to him and then removed from him several times, and he could never properly ascertain what the position was when he used the ePEX and Liquid Logic recording systems. He found the recording systems confusing. The Registrant also mentioned frequently having problems accessing those systems, and the problem was often the need for him to get a new password which required him to seek one through his manager who would then, in turn, have to seek one from Liquid Logic.

33. The Registrant also explained that he had always previously worked in organisations where there was a discussion about cases before their allocation, but at Park Lodge allocations just appeared on the systems. He stated that he could not now recall details about Service User B and any contact with him. As for the Trust’s policy for CPA care plan reviews, this was unclear to him.

34. The Registrant had little recall about Service User C. He said that it was unlike him not to see service users and any delays must have arisen because of prioritisation of other cases, because he had been allocated a lot of very complicated cases that had a backlog of work to be done. The Registrant said that his caseload was as many as 46 cases, in contradiction to Witness 1 who stated it was in the order of 30.

35. The Registrant pointed out that he had tried to make contact with Service User D on 22 December 2014 only days after the second safeguarding referral, and he had had contact on 8 January 2015, which was recorded in the case notes.

36. The Registrant stated that he could not now recall Service Users E and F, so could not comment further.

37. As regards Service User G, the Registrant repeated that he did not know the Trust’s policy about when a CPA care plan needed review. He could not now recall why his first contact with Service User G only took place on 10 March 2015 or why he had not recorded a risk assessment in respect of his visits on 10 and 30 March 2015.

Particular 2


38. With regard to not disclosing the on-going HCPC investigation, the Registrant accepted that he had not disclosed it when completing the application form to GMHFT on 26 October 2015. The Registrant explained that he had not disclosed it because he believed that he was not required to disclose it. He said that no one at the HCPC, nor any HCPC letter, instructed him that he must disclose it. He had spoken with his then HCPC case manager in June 2015 after he had received the initial letter from the HCPC about the investigation; and he got the clear impression that disclosure was discretionary. He had chosen not to disclose it. The letter of 23 June 2015 had stated that he was ‘free to practise as a social worker without restrictions’ until the matter was concluded.

39. The Registrant stated that this had remained his understanding when he completed the pre-employment declaration form regarding the HCPC investigation. He had received a letter dated 10 December 2015 from the HCPC which clearly stated that his employers would not be told about the allegation at that stage, so he believed he did not need to tell GMHFT about it either.

40. The Registrant accepted that he had not disclosed his criminal conviction of 1992 in answer to a specific question in the pre-employment checklist on or around 29 December 2015. In contradiction to Witness 5, the Registrant stated that he had told the interviewing panel about his conviction and he had no reason not to disclose it. He had always disclosed this conviction in all previous job applications and whilst it had resulted in additional interviews every time, he always subsequently got the job.  He knew that it would always be revealed in the DBS certificate that every employer needed to obtain. The Registrant’s only explanation for the non-disclosure was that it was a simple mistake which he could not explain.

Current Situation


41. As regards what has happened since he left GMHFT, the Registrant said that he had not practised since April 2016, even though no restrictions had been placed on him. He made this decision to allow himself time to reflect on his personal circumstances. He said that he had many supportive friends, many of which were themselves social workers. The Registrant said that he missed social work a lot, it was his life. He had really enjoyed his social work career and how he can improve people’s lives. He wanted to go back to social work, and knew that he had the ability.

In Conclusion


42. The Registrant stated that he was very regretful about his time at Park Lodge and the concerns raised. He said that he wished that he had sought appropriate help, and would actively seek help if he faced the same personal circumstances in the future. He said that he felt that he was now a wiser and stronger person, which was why he had attended the hearing.

43. Finally, the Registrant said that he apologised to the witnesses who have had to attend and give evidence.

Decision on facts


44. The Panel carefully considered all the evidence in the case and the submissions of both Mr Ferson and the Registrant. The Panel recognised that the burden of proof rested at all times on the HCPC, and applied the two-fold test laid down in Ivey v Genting Casinos [2017] UKSC 67 at [74].
 
45. The Panel first assessed the evidence of witnesses who had given evidence, and made the following assessments –

Witness 1 – credible; fair; consistent with his witness statement; said when he did not know an answer. He would not be drawn on the organisational context at Park Lodge.

Witness 2 - credible; fair; consistent with her witness statement; said when she did not know an answer; but could not assist with the tracing of the emails relating to the invitation of the Registrant to the discharge meetings of 2 an 16 January 2015 regarding Service User A.

Witness 3 - credible; fair; consistent with her witness statement; and was willing to describe  aspects of the organisational context at Park Lodge.

Witness 4 - credible; fair; consistent with his witness statement; candid and co-operative.

Witness 5 - credible; fair; consistent with her witness statement; candid and co-operative; said when she did not know an answer.

The Registrant – very unprepared and unfamiliar with the details of the allegation and the documents in the hearing bundle. He struggled to remember some of the service users within Particular 1 and specifics of his work with them. His recollection of Particular 2 was clear.

46. The Panel accepted the evidence of Witness 1 and Witness 2 that all the relevant case notes were in the hearing bundle, which all came from the  ePEX computerised records. There were no relevant records on the Liquid Logic computerised case records relevant to Service Users A to G during the Registrants involvement with them.

Particular 1(a)(i) - proved


47. Visits are recorded on 9 September 2014, 10 December 2014 and 6 January 2015, and the Registrant thought this was sufficient because Service User A was an inpatient. The Panel does not accept that the Registrant’s attendance at ward reviews on 4 and 20 November 2014 constitute visits to Service User A. Service User A was an extremely vulnerable service user who self-harmed. The Registrant did not visit her sufficiently regularly as her care coordinator to keep her needs under appropriate review. 

Particular 1(a)(ii) - proved


48.  The case record shows that the Registrant did not attend either discharge meeting, and the Registrant agrees that he was not present.

 
Particular 1(a)(iii) - proved


49.  There is no record relating to Service User A’s declining a follow up to the safeguarding referral.

Particular 1(a)(iv) – proved


50.  The Panel concluded that the Registrant did conduct and did record contact with Service User A on her doorstep on or around 22 January 2015, when Service User A would not let him into her flat.

Particular 1(a)(v) - proved


51.  The Registrant accepted that he did not follow up, and did not record following up, his attempt to visit Service User A on Friday 23 January 2015. He knew that a support worker was due to visit Service User A on Sunday 25 January 2015, but in the following week he had not liaised with that worker or attempted another visit himself.

Particular 1(a)(vi) - proved 


52. There was no record of a care plan for Service User A and the Registrant did not suggest that he had prepared one. The Panel concluded that there was no care plan prepared.

Particular 1(b)(i) - proved


53. There was no record of any visit to Service User B from the allocation of the case to the Registrant on or around 26 August 2014, for six months until 26 February 2015, and the Registrant gave no explanation for this. The Panel concluded there had not been any contact until 26 February 2015.

Particular 1(b)(ii) – proved


54. The first recorded face to face contact was on 10 March 2015, and the Registrant did not suggest this had first occurred on an earlier date.

 

Particular 1(b)(iii) – proved


55. It is recorded in the supervision notes of 19 December 2014 that Witness 1 told the Registrant to make contact with Service User B and review his care plan. The Registrant was recorded as being reminded to do this “asap” in supervision with Witness 3 on 4 March 2015, but still did not do so prior to his departure on about 11 April 2015. No CPA care plan is recorded.

Particular 1(c)(i) - proved


56. There is no record of attempted contact during the six months to 26 February 2015 and the Registrant did not suggest he did attempt contact before then.

Particular 1(c)(ii) - proved


57. The Registrant was recorded as being reminded to contact Service User C in supervision on 19 December 2014 by Witness 1, but the Panel concludes that he did not do so in a timely manner in the absence of any record until 26 February 2015.

Particular 1(c)(iii) - proved


58. The Registrant was recorded as being reminded to contact Service User C in supervision on 16 January 2015 by Witness 3, but the Panel concludes that he did not do so in a timely manner in the absence of any record until 26 February 2015.

Particular 1(c)(iv) – not proved


59.  The Registrant recorded in the case notes on 25 February 2015 that he would discuss at the MDT whether Service User C needed to be on a CPA. No evidence was produced by HCPC that the Registrant had not gone on to discuss this with the MDT, therefore not proved. 

Particular 1(c)(v) - proved


60. There is no record of the Registrant meeting with Service User C whilst he was Service User C’s allocated social worker, and the Registrant did not present any evidence that he actually did meet with Service User C but had failed to record it.

Particular 1(d)(i) - proved


61. The Panel accepted Witness 1’s evidence that the Registrant was allocated the safeguarding investigations on Friday 19 December 2014. The Registrant accepted that he first attempted contact with Service User D on Monday 22 December 2014 and this is recorded.

Particular 1(d)(ii) - proved


62. The Registrant did not provide any evidence of having conducted a safeguarding investigation, and there is no record of such an investigation. The Panel accepts Witness 1’s evidence that the Registrant admitted to him on 10 April 2015 that he had not undertaken the investigation.

Particular 1(d)(iii) – not proved


63. No evidence was offered by the HCPC.

Particular 1(d)(iv) - proved


64. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had not liaised with any other professionals involved in Service User D’s care, despite making one unsuccessful attempt

Particular 1(e) - proved


65. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded  that the Registrant had not conducted a safeguarding investigation in respect of Service User E. The Panel accepted that the Registrant had admitted to Witness 1 on 10 April 2015 that he had not carried out the investigation.

Particular 1(f)(i) - proved


66. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had not made actual contact with Service User F. The Panel did note that the Registrant had recorded attempts at contacting Service User F on 10 February 2015, 12 February 2015, 19 February 2015 and 10 March 2015.

Particular 1(f)(ii) - proved


67. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had not conducted a safeguarding investigation in respect of Service User F. The Panel accepted that the Registrant had admitted to Witness 1 on 10 April 2015 that he had not carried out the investigation.

Particular 1(g)(i) - proved


68. In the absence of any other prior record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s first contact with Service User G was that recorded by the Registrant on 2 March 2015, and he had been allocated the case on or around 26 August 2014 by Witness 1.


Particular 1(g)(ii) and (iii) - proved


69.  The Registrant was reminded to contact Service User G as recorded in the  supervision notes of Witness 1 on 19 December 2014, and of Witness 3 on 16 January 2015. In the absence of any other prior record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s first contact with Service User G was that recorded by the Registrant on 2 March 2015.


Particular 1(g)(iv) - proved


70. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant did not draft or amend the CPA care plan for Service User G after the Registrant met her 10 March 2015 when he identified the need for another appointment. That took place on 30 March 2015, but there was no evidence of a draft or amended CPA care plan being prepared by the Registrant before he departed Park Lodge on 11 April 2015.

Particular 1(g)(v) - proved


71. In the absence of any record, the Panel concluded that the Registrant did not record any risk assessment documentation after his face to face meetings with Service User G on 10 and 30 March 2015.

Particular 2(a)(i) - proved


72. The Panel saw a copy of the application form completed by the Registrant. The Registrant had not declared the HCPC investigation and the Registrant accepted that he had not disclosed it in answer to the question in the form.

Particular 2(a)(ii) – not proved


73. The HCPC offered no evidence.

Particular 2(b)(i) - proved


74. The Panel saw a copy of the pre-employment checklist completed by the Registrant. The Registrant had not declared the HCPC investigation and the Registrant accepted that he had not disclosed it in answer to the question in the checklist.

Particular 2(b)(ii) - proved


75. The Panel saw a copy of the pre-employment checklist completed by the Registrant. The Registrant had not declared the 1992 criminal conviction and the Registrant accepted that he had not disclosed it in answer to the question in the form.

Particular 2(b)(iii) – not proved


76. The HCPC offered no evidence.
 
Particular 3 – not proved in respect of particulars 2(a)(i) and 2(b)(i)


77. The Panel first considered what the Registrant genuinely believed to be the facts regarding his not disclosing the HCPC investigation when answering questions in the application form, for GMHFT. The Registrant was made aware at the start of an HCPC investigation by HCPC’s letter dated 26 June 2015. This stated: “Until the matter is concluded you are free to practise as a Social Worker without restrictions…” Having received that letter, the Registrant telephoned his case worker at the HCPC and the Registrant has said that he was left with the impression that it was for him to decide whether or not to disclose the investigation. The Panel has seen the HCPC file note regarding that conversation and it does not record that the Registrant was told that he must disclose it to employers. The Panel concluded that the Registrant genuinely believed that he was not obliged to disclose the HCPC investigation and, in these circumstances, ordinary decent people would not regard that non-disclosure as dishonest.
 
78. The Panel next considered the Registrant not disclosing the HCPC investigation in the later pre-employment checklist. In addition to the previous matters recited in the previous paragraph, the Registrant had received by that time the HCPC letter dated 10 December 2015 informing him that the investigation would be moving forward to the HCPC Investigating Committee, which would decide if there was a case to answer. It also stated: “At this stage of the proceedings [your employer] will not be told about this allegation…but I am obliged to inform them about the allegation if the panel decides there is a case to answer.” The Panel concluded that the Registrant genuinely believed that he was not obliged to disclose the HCPC investigation and, in these circumstances, ordinary decent people would not regard that non-disclosure as dishonest.

Particular 3 – proved in respect of particular 2(b)(ii)


79. With regard to the non-disclosure of the 1992 conviction in the pre-employment check, the Registrant was very familiar with the need to disclose it, whenever he applied for employment as a Social Worker, and he said it always led to there being an additional interview to make a risk assessment in the light of the conviction. The Panel rejects the Registrant’s account that it must have simply been a mistake. The Registrant was fully aware of the significance of the conviction to potential employers and must have been fully alert to the need to disclose it appropriately in all written employment forms irrespective of what he had verbally informed managers. The Panel determined that this non-disclosure would be regarded as dishonest by ordinary decent people.

Decision on Grounds


80. Mr Ferson submitted that the proven particulars amounted to breaches of the applicable HCPC Standards and were a serious falling short of what would be proper in the circumstances. It was for the Panel to determine if those failures by the Registrant amounted to misconduct or lack of competence, such as to call into question the Registrant’s fitness to practise.

81. The Registrant submitted that he was poorly trained on the ePEX system, unsupported by management and felt burdened by a large case load at a time when he was going through a number of personal difficulties.

82. The Panel considered each of the proven particulars of the Allegation. The Panel took into account both the HCPC’s “Standards of conduct, performance and ethics” 2012, and the HCPC’s “Standards of proficiency: Social workers in England” 2012 when considering whether the proven particulars amounted to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

83. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice that the matters of misconduct and/or lack of competence were matters for the independent professional judgement of the Panel. The ground of lack of competence requires a conclusion that a fair sample of the Registrant’s work did not meet the necessary standards. Misconduct, on the other hand, was a different ground and requires a serious departure from the proper professional standards. A single negligent act or omission was unlikely to amount to misconduct, but could do so if particularly serious. Further, multiple negligent acts or omissions were more likely to cross the threshold of misconduct. Serious misconduct has been described in legal cases as conduct which put service users at unwarranted risk of harm; conduct which brought the profession into disrepute; or conduct which breached a fundamental tenet of the profession.

84. Although the Panel concluded that the Registrant did not attend either of the discharge meetings for Service User A (Particular 1(a)(ii)) the HCPC did not prove that he was aware of the invitation.  Therefore the Panel concluded that this was not lack of competence or misconduct.

85. The fact that the Registrant failed to achieve a successful visit to Service User A as referred to in particular 1(a)(iv) was not, in the view of the Panel either showing lack of competence or misconduct because there was no more that the Registrant could reasonably have done on that day.

86. The Panel concluded that although the Registrant did not declare the investigation by the HCPC on either the application form or the pre-employment declaration form, the Panel accepted his evidence of a genuine belief that he was entitled not to do so. Accordingly Particulars 2(a)(i) and 2(b)(i) do not constitute lack of competence or misconduct.

87. The protection of service users and acting in their best interest are at the heart of social work, and the Panel determined that the Registrant’s failures in this regard must be considered serious and therefore amounted to misconduct rather than lack of competence. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant did not lack competence in that he knew what to do and what his obligations were, but did not do what he should have done. The Panel considered these were serious breaches of the applicable standards which had put the service users at unwarranted risk of harm and therefore amounted to misconduct rather than lack of competence.

88. Eight proven particulars related to the Registrant’s failure to make and/or record contacts and visits. These were particulars 1(a)(i), 1(b)(i), 1(b)(ii), 1(c)(i), 1(c)(v), 1(d)(i), 1(f)(i) and 1(g)(i).

These were breaches of HCPC Standards of Conduct, performance & ethics:

• Standard 7 You must communicate properly and effectively with service users and other practitioners 

• Standard 10 You must keep accurate records

They were also breaches of HCPC Standards of proficiency for Social Workers:
 
• Standard 9.1 Understand the need to build and sustain professional relationships with service users, carers and colleagues as both an autonomous practitioner and collaboratively with others

• Standard 14.7 Be able to demonstrate a level of skill in the use of information technology appropriate to their practice.

89. The Panel considered that six proven particulars related to the Registrant’s failure to properly safeguard service users and make proper records. These were particulars 1(a)(iii), 1(a)(v), 1(d)(ii), 1(d)(iv), 1(e), and 1(f)(ii).

These failures were breaches of HCPC Standards of Conduct, performance & ethics:

• Standard 1 you must act in the best interests of service users

• Standard 10 you must keep accurate records

They were also breaches of the following HCPC Standards of proficiency for social workers:

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

• Standard 2.7 understand the need to respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values and autonomy of every service user and carer

• Standard 4.2 be able to initiate resolution of issues and be able to exercise personal initiative

• Standard 4.3 recognise that they are personally responsible for, and must be able to justify, their decisions and recommendations

• Standard 9.9 be able to work with resistance and conflict

90. Four other proven particulars related to the Registrant’s failure to develop and record plans and risk assessments. These were particulars 1(a)(vi), 1(b)(iii), 1(g)(iv), and 1(g)(v).

These failures were breaches of:

HCPC Standards of Conduct, performance & ethics:

• Standard 1 you must act in the best interests of service users

• Standard 10 you must keep accurate records

They were also breaches of the following HCPC Standards of proficiency for social workers:

• Standard 1.3 be able to undertake assessments of risk, need and capacity and respond appropriately

• Standard 4.3 recognise that they are personally responsible for, and must be able to justify, their decisions and recommendations

• Standard 9.7 be able to contribute effectively to work undertaken as part of a multi-disciplinary team

• Standard 14.7 be able to demonstrate a level of skill in the use of information technology appropriate to their practice


91. Four proven particulars related to the Registrant’s failure to follow instruction given in support of his practice. The Registrant’s failure to carry out contact with Service Users C and G were each after two reminders being given in supervision. These were particulars 1(c)(ii), 1(c)(iii), 1(g)(ii) and 1(g)(iii). These failures amount to a breach of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, performance & ethics:

• Standard 1 you must act in the best interests of service users

     And it was also a breach of the HCPC’s Standards of proficiency:

• Standard 12.1 be able to use supervision to support and enhance the quality of their social work practice

92. The last matter proved was particular 3 in relation to the Registrant’s dishonesty in particular 2(b)(ii); that is his failure to correctly answer a pre-employment declaration form which required him to disclose a conviction which dated back to 1992. The Registrant’s evidence was that he had always previously disclosed it and was well aware that the disclosure invariably led to an additional interview to discuss it. The Panel found that the Registrant dishonestly chose not to declare it on this occasion. Dishonesty by a Social Worker in the context of applying for employment, in the Panel’s view, can only be regarded as serious. The Registrant was well aware of the importance of disclosing that conviction and his decision not to disclose it was, the Panel determined, misconduct, not a matter of lack of competence. 

Decision on impairment 


93. Mr Ferson submitted that the decision on impairment was a matter for the professional judgement of the Panel. He further submitted that the Registrant was slow to accept any wrongdoing on his part or to show insight into the potential impact on the service users of his failing to carry out tasks for which he was responsible. The Registrant had also denied dishonesty in relation to his failure to disclose his previous conviction. He also submitted that there was no evidence of the Registrant’s efforts to keep his skills and knowledge up to date.

94. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice that the Panel had to consider whether that past misconduct leads to this Registrant’s fitness to practise being impaired now. There are two component parts of the test for impairment. First, there is what may be termed the ‘personal component’ of this decision. The Panel considers the proven past misconduct or other ground, together with all the other evidence the Panel have in respect of the Registrant, (e.g. insight, any evidence of the remedying of the deficiencies, the risk of repetition, the risk to the public presented by any repetition of the misconduct). Second, the Panel must also consider what may be termed the ‘public component’, namely, what would be the effect of not finding impairment on the wider public interest? That wider public interest includes the maintenance of public confidence in the profession and its regulator, and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct. Those components are dealt with in the HCPTS’s Practice Note ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’‘ (March 2017).

95. The Panel carefully considered the nature and context of the misconduct. The Panel concluded that the Registrant was working in an environment of low morale, that the department was badly organised and for part of the time there was only one manager covering the team when there should have been three. However, the Panel concluded that there was a real concern over his inability to recognise his lack of personal resilience at the relevant time and his belief that he could not approach his managers for support; neither did he seek any other kind of support. This did not show sufficient regard to the risks to service users that could arise from his failure to take personal responsibility and his failure to be more pro-active in his management of his cases.

96.  The Registrant has not worked in social work for two years and has not displayed a significant amount of insight into his failings. Consequently, there has been no active remediation and this has been combined with a lack of steps being taken to keep his skills and knowledge up to date.

97. As regards the dishonesty, the Panel acknowledged that this only occurred on one occasion and there was no attempt to otherwise cover up the 1992 conviction; it had been the Registrant who sought to have a conversation about the conviction with his manager. The Panel concluded that the risk of repetition of dishonesty was low because the Registrant now fully accepts that he must always take care to disclose his conviction. For the public and personal components, the Panel concluded that there was no need for a finding of impairment with regard to the dishonesty.

98. However, there was a need for a finding of impairment in respect of the wide-ranging and significant failings in regard to key tasks of the Registrant as a Social Worker employed as a care co-ordinator. These were high risk service users and the Registrant’s role had been to co-ordinate their access to appropriate and timely services and assistance. The Registrant had failed those service users and the public would rightly expect those proven failings to lead to a finding of impairment.

99. In these circumstances, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction


100. Mr Ferson submitted that it was for the Panel to determine the appropriate minimum sanction after taking into account the HCPC’s “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case.

101. The Registrant submitted that he was very regretful for what had happened, none of which was intended, and that he was very committed to social work. He would be happy to undertake whatever retraining was considered necessary by the HCPC, but he had no specific idea what was required as he still considered himself a competent social worker. He undertakes a few hours of voluntary work each week, helping the homeless and at food banks.

102.  The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice that:

a) the appropriate sanction, if any, is a matter for the independent judgement of the Panel;

b) the Panel must bear in mind at all times that the purpose of imposing a sanction is to protect the public in accordance with the over-arching objective of the exercise of the HCPC’s powers set out in Art. 3(4) of the 2001 Order, as amended. This includes promoting and maintaining the public’s confidence in the profession and promoting and maintaining proper standards of conduct. The purpose of a sanction is not to rehabilitate the Registrant, nor to punish the Registrant, although a restriction on the Registrant’s registration may have a punitive effect;

c) The Panel should consider the impact of a particular sanction on the Registrant, but it is not the primary consideration;

d) the Panel must take account of the HCPC’s guidance in its published “Indicative Sanctions Policy” March 2017, which includes the need for the Panel to exercise the principle of proportionality. This means that if a sanction is required, the sanction imposed should be the minimum appropriate sanction to achieve the over-arching objective. If the Panel deviates from the Policy, it should state clear and cogent reasons for so doing.

103. The Panel carefully considered all the circumstances of the case and the submissions made. It concluded that there were a number of aggravating features – the potential harm to service users; the failures occurred over a period of about 6 months; the Registrant only had superficial insight; and there was a lack of evidence of any remediation.

104. On the other hand, the Panel recognised that there were a number of mitigating factors – the Registrant had engaged in the regulatory process; private matters in his life which had impacted on his professional performance had ameliorated; there was no previous issues regarding his social work; and the Registrant had expressed his regret and remorse at what had happened.

105. The Panel first considered whether no action was appropriate, but determined that the misconduct was too serious.

106. The Panel next considered the imposition of a Caution, but determined that the misconduct was too serious for this to be appropriate.

107. The Panel then considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order would be sufficient and appropriate. The Panel concluded that it could not devise conditions of practice that would be workable, proportionate, verifiable and be sufficient to address the concerns in this case given the wide-ranging nature of the misconduct.

108. Having concluded that no lesser sanction would be sufficient and proportionate, the Panel considered a Suspension Order. The Panel determined that paragraph 41 of the “Indicative Sanctions Policy” applied to this case:

“…where there are no psychological or other difficulties preventing the registrant from understanding and seeking to remedy the failings then suspension may be appropriate...”

109. The Panel considered whether a Striking Off Order should be made, but had regard to the following paragraphs in the “Indicative Sanctions Policy” in concluding that a Striking Off Order was not required and would be disproportionate:

“47. Striking off is a sanction of last resort for serious, deliberate or reckless acts involving abuse of trust such as sexual abuse, dishonesty or persistent failure.

48. Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public, for example, where there is a lack of insight, continuing problems or denial. A registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate.”

The Panel determined that the Suspension Order should be for 12 months to reflect the seriousness of the misconduct and the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and its regulator.


110. The Suspension Order will be reviewed by another panel before its expiry. That reviewing panel may be assisted by the Registrant’s attendance and:

a) any evidence of the steps taken by the Registrant to keep his skills and knowledge up to date, for instance, with regard to any changes in legislation, policy and practice;

b) a reflective piece in writing:


(i) demonstrating the Registrant’s understanding of the reasons why regular contact with service users and accurate and up to date record-keeping are important;

(ii) explaining how the Registrant would then in future recognise any lack of personal resilience on his part and what steps he would take to get support, inside or outside the work environment;


c) any references from employers or voluntary organisations regarding the activities the Registrant has undertaken and his performance

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Abid Hussain for a period of 12 months from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

A reconvened hearing was held in Manchester and concluded on 15 May 2018 with a Suspension Order.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Abid Hussain

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
08/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard