Miss Jacquelin Irene Luxton

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW11719

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/11/2018 End: 12:00 16/11/2018

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

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the Substantive Hearing on 30 October–2 November 2017.

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker for Somerset County Council between around June 2013 and 21 October 2014:

1. In relation to Person A and Person B:

a) Before placing Child 1 with Person A and Person B, you:

i) Did not adequately explore the conflicts in views between professionals involved in the care of Child 1.

ii) Did not explore with Person A and Person B Child 1’s needs and/or the potential implications of the psychologist's opinion of Child 1.

2. Not Proved

a) Not Proved

i) Not Proved

ii) Not Proved

3. Not Proved

4. You did not follow management instruction in that, you:

a) Undertook case work when instructed not to do so on 16 October 2014.

b) In or around June 2013, acted outside adoption agency practice and protocol in that you shared confidential information with an approved adopter about a prospective adopter.

5. You did not keep accurate and/or updated records on Liquid logic Children's Social Care System (LCS) and/or Protocol and/or the Bridgewater T-drive in relation to:

a) Family T;

b) Family U;

c) Family V;

d) Family W;

e) Person A and Person B;

f) Person C and Person D; and

g) Person E and Person F.

6. The matters described in paragraphs 1 - 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

The Panel at the Substantive Hearing found particulars 1 a)(i), 1a)(ii), 4a), 4b), and 5a)–g) proved and that particulars 4(b) and 5(a)–(g) amounted to misconduct.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1.The Panel was satisfied that Notice of today’s hearing had been served on the Registrant at her registered home address, in accordance with Rule 3 of the Health Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (the Rules).

Proceeding in absence

2.The Registrant did not appear, nor was she represented. She had not attended the original final hearing on 30 October 2017–2 November 2017 or the Review Hearing on 26 April 2018.


3.This Review Hearing had been listed for 29 October 2018, but adjourned on that date on the ground that it would not be fair to the Registrant to proceed with the hearing in her absence. The concern of the Panel was that reasonable steps had not been taken by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the April 2018 Review or the 29 October 2018 hearing at her personal e-mail address (rather than her work address on the HCPC register).


4.On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Senior applied for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant. Ms Senior referred the Panel to the e-mail notification of today’s hearing sent to the Registrant’s personal e-mail address and to correspondence from the Registrant from which it could be inferred that the Registrant is aware of today’s hearing. Ms Senior further submitted that the Suspension Order is due to expire on 30 November 2018 and that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.


5.In reaching a decision, the Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.


6.The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable Notice of today’s hearing. In her e-mail dated 2 November 2018 the Registrant clearly stated that she would not attend a review in November. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant has waived her right to attend the hearing. There was nothing to indicate that she would attend at a later date if today’s hearing were to be adjourned. The Panel noted the overriding public interest in dealing with matters in a timely manner and that the current Suspension Order is due to expire on 30 November 2018. If the Order were allowed to expire, the Registrant would be able to practise unrestricted, if she so wished. The Panel decided that the matter should be heard in the absence of the Registrant.

Background

7. The Registrant was a Social Worker who, at the relevant time, was employed by Somerset County Council (SCC) as an Adoption Social Worker in the Permanence Team. In this role she was responsible for working with prospective adopters and completing assessments.


8. On 3 October 2013, an Internal Investigation was commissioned by the Group Manager of Fostering and Adoption, arising from a concern that the Registrant had breached confidentiality in disclosing the first name and profession of a prospective adopter to a couple who had recently adopted a child within the same sibling group. BH, Strategic Manager for Child Placements and Resources, conducted this investigation.


9. In June 2014, WWT took over as the Registrant’s line manager. During the course of supervision, it became clear that three placements had broken down extremely quickly. As a result of this, concerns were raised about the quality of the Registrant’s assessments.


10.The Registrant did not appear and was not represented before the Conduct and Competence Committee at a final hearing in 2017. As stated earlier, in this determination, the Panel found that particulars 4(b) and 5(a)–(g) amounted to misconduct.


11.The Panel at the final hearing went on to find that the Registrant was impaired and imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 6 months.


12.The  Suspension Order was reviewed on  26 April 2018 and extended.

Today’s review hearing

13. This is the second review of the Suspension Order. In reaching its decision, the Panel has had regard to the HCPC’s submissions and the relevant documentary evidence.


14. Ms Senior for the HCPC reminded the Panel of the history of the case and drew the Panel’s attention to recent e-mail correspondence between the Registrant and the HCPC. In this correspondence the Registrant refers to matters relating to her health. She makes a request to be “deregistered” because she will not be practising again as a Social Worker. She asks that the matter should be concluded. Ms Senior and an HCPC Case Manager explained in emails to the Registrant that if she wished to make an application for voluntary removal from the register she would need to provide her current address and be willing to engage with the HCPC. The Registrant has not provided her current address and has stated in an e-mail dated 12 November 2018 that she is not willing to provide it.


15. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and that the appropriate sanction was a Striking Off Order.

Decision

16. A substantive review is a two-stage process. The first task of the Panel is to decide whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired and, if so, to then consider what, if any, sanction should be imposed upon her registration. In reaching its decision, the Panel has considered all the relevant material and had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


17. The Panel carefully considered all the new information since the Review Hearing in April 2018. There was no new information relevant to the Panel’s assessment of the risk of repetition, if the Registrant wee to practise as a Social Worker. The new information confirms that the Registrant has decided, for personal reasons, not to continue to practise as a Social Worker. This not doubt explains why there was no evidence that the Registrant had taken any remedial steps that would have enabled her to return to practice. She makes clear in her e-mail dated 12 November 2018 that the continuation of HCPC proceedings are not in her interest and that she regards the continuation of the process as punitive.


18. The Panel decided that there remains a risk of repetition and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.


19. The Panel considered what sanction, if any, to impose. The Panel decided that a sanction which restricts the Registrant’s practise is necessary because of the ongoing risk of repetition. Therefore the option of making no order or imposing a Caution Order would be insufficient to protect the public. A Conditions of Practice Order is not realistic or workable in circumstances where the Registrant has decided not to practise as a Social Worker and no longer wishes to be on the register.


20. The Panel considered the option of extending the current Suspension Order but decided that it was not the appropriate sanction. The Panel took into account both the Registrant’s interests and the public interest. The Panel noted that the HCPC proceedings against the Registrant have been ongoing since she referred herself to the HCPC in July 2014. The Registrant has clearly stated that she wishes the proceedings to be concluded. She has not requested her suspension to be further extended and she would prefer the matter to be concluded. It is not in the public interest that proceedings should continue where there is no real prospect that the Registrant will take the steps necessary to resume practising.


21. The Panel therefore decided that a Striking Off Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction.

 

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Jacquelin Irene Luxton from the register on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

This Order will be imposed on the current order, 30 November 2018.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Jacquelin Irene Luxton

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
29/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Adjourned
26/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
30/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended