Mr Paul David Reed

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW33081

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 31/05/2018 End: 11:30 31/05/2018

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

Whilst employed as a Social Worker by Devon County Council:

1. On 14 October 2015 you visited Service User X at River View Care Centre to complete a Welfare Visit and you:

a. Did not report the alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour of Service User X as detailed in the Behaviour Records between 3 September 2015 and 12 October 2015 to:

i. the Manager at the River View Care Centre to raise a Safeguarding Concern;

ii. a Manager at Devon County Council.

b. Did not ensure that Service User X accessed appropriate intervention in light of concerns raised in paragraph 1(a) namely that you did not report these matters to the Community Mental Health Team to conduct an assessment.

c. Did not review all of Service User X’s care notes and/or records and/or did not record that you had reviewed them.

d. Did not make contact with and/or record contacting Colleague A about Service User X, even though they had previously completed a Welfare Review on Service User X on 4 September 2015.

2. On 28 October 2015 you completed a Mental Capacity Act assessment regarding Service User X and completed the assessment:

a. Without the prior permission of your manager, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.

b. Prior to the Safeguarding Strategy meeting took place, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.

3. Your actions described in paragraphs 1 – 2 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

4. 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 is satisfied on the basis of the documentation which it has been shown, that the Registrant has been served with notice of today’s hearing in accordance with the Rules. The Panel has seen a letter dated 30 April 2018 which was sent by first class post to the Registrant at his registered address; this letter gave notice of the date, time and place of today's review hearing. The Panel noted that the letter mistakenly referred the hearing being a review of a Suspension Order. It took the view that this error did not invalidate service of the Notice on the Registrant. It noted an email to the Registrant on 4 May 2018, regarding this hearing correctly refers to it being a review of a Conditions of Practice Order.


Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant


2. The Panel considered whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel has decided that it is in the interests of justice to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.   In reaching this decision, the Panel is mindful that it should exercise utmost care before doing so.  It has taken note of the matters set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and has also received and accepted legal advice. 


3. The Panel noted that in the Notice letter of 30 April 2018, the Registrant was specifically informed that if he could not attend in person, he could contact the HCPTS to discuss options for attending via alternative means. There has been no contact from the Registrant in response to that letter. Nor has there been any response from the Registrant to the email dated 4 May 2018 in which the HCPC sought up to date information from him for this hearing.


4. The Panel also noted that the terms of the letter of 30 April 2018 make clear that the hearing might proceed in his absence.  The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant is aware of this, and that he could attend today’s hearing either in person or via alternative means. As he has not sought to do so, the Panel is satisfied that he has voluntarily waived his right to attend.


5. The Panel noted that the Registrant has not sought an adjournment and is satisfied that any adjournment is unlikely to result in his future attendance. The Panel also takes the view that there is a clear public interest in notified hearings being heard expeditiously and at the allotted time.  


Hearing in private


6. Ms Shallita for the HCPC, applied for the part of the review hearing to be in held in private on grounds that this was necessary to protect and safeguard the privacy of the Registrant as matters touching on his health would be raised.  


7. The Panel, following the guidance set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on “Conducting Hearings in Private”, decided that it was appropriate for those parts of this review hearing concerning the Registrant’s health to be heard in private.  


Background


8. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. He was employed by Devon County Council (the Council) from 7 January 2002 until his dismissal on 20 April 2016.   At the time of the Registrant’s dismissal he was a Senior Social Worker within a Community Health and Social Care team based at Totnes Community Hospital.


9. The Registrant’s line manager had some concerns regarding his performance.   These concerns were managed by means of a Performance Improvement Plan between 4 March 2015 and 18 August 2015.


10. Whilst the Registrant was subject to the Performance Improvement Plan, safeguarding meetings were held by the Council in August and September 2015 in respect of standards of care and practice at the River View Care Centre (‘River View’), which accommodated people with nursing needs and dementia care needs.   Following the September 2015 meeting it was agreed that ‘welfare’ reviews would be undertaken by Social Workers. The Registrant carried out a monitoring visit at River View as part of that review. A number of allegations were made with regard to the Registrant’s review and assessment of a service user. A formal internal investigation was conducted by the Council and a referral was made to the HCPC on 23 November 2015. The Council’s investigation culminated in an internal disciplinary hearing which took place on 20 April 2016.   Following that hearing the Registrant was dismissed by the Council with immediate effect on grounds of gross misconduct.


11. On 28 July 2016, a panel of the Investigating Committee of the HCPC determined that there was a case to answer in relation to the concerns that had been raised and referred the case to the Conduct and Competence Committee.


12. The Notice of Allegation was sent to the Registrant by the HCPC on 29 July 2016.  


13. On 13 October 2016, prior to the scheduling of the Final Hearing, the HCPC wrote to the Registrant inviting him to consider agreeing to conditions being placed on his registration. The Registrant, in a letter dated 25 October 2016, confirmed that he was willing to be made subject to Conditions of Practice.  On 22 March 2017 the proposed conditions were sent to the Registrant by email and by return email on the same date, he confirmed his willingness to comply with these conditions.


14. The proposed Consent Order setting out the conditions was signed by the HCPC on 6 April 2017 and signed by the Registrant on 21 April 2017.


15. On 7 July 2017, at the substantive hearing to determine whether to dispose of the matter by way of a Consent Order, the Registrant admitted the Allegation in full, explained his actions, and accepted that his fitness to practise was impaired at that time. He also accepted that the proposed conditions would assist him in remedying the deficiencies in his practice. He confirmed he had not worked as a Social Worker since November 2015.


16. In approving the Consent Order, the panel was satisfied that the Registrant had demonstrated good insight by recognising the serious nature of the Allegation.   It noted that the Registrant had made substantial admissions at an early stage, had expressed genuine remorse for his conduct which had been an isolated incident in an otherwise lengthy career. It also noted that at the relevant time, the Registrant had had personal and health problems. The panel weighed these factors against the unwarranted risk of harm to vulnerable service users which the Registrant’s conduct had involved, and the concerns raised relating to reviews and assessments which are fundamental to the role of a Social Worker.   The panel was satisfied that the deficiencies in the Registrant’s practice were capable of being remedied and that he could be trusted to make a determined effort to comply with a Conditions of Practice Order. The panel concluded that the terms of the proposed Consent Order would adequately protect the wider public interest in maintaining confidence in the Social Work profession and in ensuring that proper standards of conduct were upheld. The panel recommended that a reviewing panel may be assisted by evidence that the Registrant has kept his skills and knowledge as a Social Worker up to date.


Decision 


17. The Panel has taken note of the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”.    It has had regard to the submissions made by Ms Shallita for the HCPC. It has received and accepted legal advice.


18. The Panel has taken account of all the information put before it, particularly a letter from the HCPC to the Respondent dated 8 January 2018 sent by email which invited him to provide evidence that he has been complying with the conditions imposed on his registration, and the Registrant’s email reply dated 10 January 2018.   In his email, the Registrant indicated that he had yet to obtain employment as a Social Worker.  He stated that he had joined an Agency who were aware of the conditions on his practice but had not, at that time, been offered any Locum post.   


19. The Panel noted that as the Registrant has been unable to obtain employment as a Social Worker, he has not been able to comply with Conditions 1 – 5, 8 and 9 of the Conditions of Practice imposed on his registration under the terms of the Consent Order. It also noted that the Registrant had not complied with Conditions 6 and 7.  These conditions required the Registrant to provide for this review hearing, reflective pieces on “the importance of communicating well with your manager” and on “the importance of prompt and accurate note keeping”.   There is no explanation from him as to why he has not done so, although the Panel accepted that it may not have been obvious to the Registrant that these particular conditions were not reliant on him being in employment as a Social Worker.    


20. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a review hearing was to assess current fitness to practise. The Panel agreed with the previous panel that the Registrant’s deficiencies were capable of being remedied. However, in the absence of any up to date information as to his current employment position and, more particularly, his health, the Panel is unable to conclude that it is safe to return the Registrant to unrestricted practice.  In light of this, the Panel takes the view that there is still the risk of harm to service users.  


21. With regard to the wider public interest the Panel has decided that as there is no evidence before it of any significant change since the previous hearing, it must make a finding of impairment in this case in order to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the Social Work profession, and in its regulatory body. 


22. The Panel has therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to remains impaired.


23. The Panel then considered what the appropriate and proportionate order was in this case. It was referred to and took account of the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy and received, and accepted legal advice.  


24. The Panel considered its powers under Article 30 (1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 and the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. It had in mind that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public.  It decided that to take no action in this case would not manage the risks identified. The Panel was satisfied that to ensure the public was properly protected, it had to impose a sanction.   


25. The Panel then considered a Caution Order. It concluded that this was not appropriate in this case. The Registrant has yet to comply with any conditions of practice. Nor is there any information showing that, despite not working as a Social Worker since November 2015, the Registrant has taken steps to maintain his skills and knowledge. The Panel has concluded that there remains a low risk of recurrence. The concerns in this case may have been an isolated incident in an otherwise lengthy career, but they could not be considered as either relatively minor or at the lower end of the scale.    


26. The Panel is of the view that a Conditions of Practice Order is no longer the appropriate and proportionate order.  It has reviewed the current conditions and considers that they are not appropriate. The Registrant has not been able to obtain employment and so the conditions do not appear to be workable at this time. The Panel is concerned about the state of the Registrant’s health and consider that he should now be focussing on his efforts on recovery and recuperation.  It has only very limited information before it as to the nature of the health issues from which the Registrant suffers and is not satisfied that the Registrant is fit to practise, even with conditions, at this time.


27. The Panel therefore concluded that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case was to impose a Suspension Order for a period of 6 months.    The Panel considers that a period of 6 months will give the Registrant time in which to fully concentrate on recovering from his health issues.  


28. Although the Panel cannot bind the next reviewing panel, it considers that it may be assisted by the following:


1. The attendance at the hearing by the Registrant either in person or by telephone
2. A medical report from the Registrant’s General Practitioner confirming if the Registrant is fit to return to work.

Order

ORDER:  The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Paul David Reed for a period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 6 January 2019.  

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Paul David Reed

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
31/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
07/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice