Mr Paul David Reed
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As considered by the Panel at the Final Hearing on 7 July 2017:
Whilst employed as a Social Worker by Devon County Council:
- On 14 October 2015 you visited Service User X at River View Care Centre to complete a Welfare Visit and you:
- 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:
- the Manager at the River View Care Centre to raise a Safeguarding Concern;
- a Manager at Devon County Council.
- 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.
- Did not review all of Service User X’s care notes and/or records and/or did not record that you had reviewed them.
- 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.
- On 28 October 2015 you completed a Mental Capacity Act assessment regarding Service User X and completed the assessment:
- Without the prior permission of your manager, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.
- Prior to the Safeguarding Strategy meeting took place, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.
- Your actions described in paragraphs 1 – 2 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.
- By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.
Hearing in private
- Ms Senior 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 might be raised.
- 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.
- In the event, the parties were able to present evidence in a manner which avoided the need to go into private.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. The Notice of Allegation was sent to the Registrant by the HCPC on 29 July 2016.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. A Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee sat on 31 May 2018 to review the Conditions of Practice Order. At that hearing that panel had 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.
14. In that email, the Registrant indicated that he might need more time before being in a position to apply for a permanent Social Work post. On 4 May 2018, the HCPC sent a further email seeking an update from the Registrant in relation to a number of areas. There had been no response to that communication.
15. The reviewing 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 that 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 reviewing 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.
16. The reviewing panel was mindful that the purpose of a review hearing was to assess current fitness to practise. The reviewing 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 reviewing panel was unable to conclude that it is safe to return the Registrant to unrestricted practice. In light of this, the reviewing panel took the view that there is still the risk of harm to service users.
17. With regard to the wider public interest the reviewing panel concluded that as there was 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. The reviewing panel has therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to remained impaired and that after careful consideration came to the decision that the appropriate and proportionate restriction, at this time, was a period of suspension. That period of suspension was for six months which was to take effect at the end of the Conditions of Practice Order.
18. Although the reviewing panel could not bind the next reviewing panel, it considered that such a panel might 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.
Evidence before this Panel
19. The Panel had regard to the hearing bundle produced by the HCPC. There was no other documentary evidence. It received representations from the HCPC and the Registrant gave oral evidence as to his current fitness to practise and his future professional intentions
20. Ms Senior informed the Panel that she had checked as to what information had been before the previous reviewing panel that would have lead to that panel making its recommendation that the Registrant provide up-to-date medical information. It appeared that the only information had been the email from the Registrant which the previous panel had relied on to replace the Conditions of Practice with a Suspension Order.
21. Ms Senior stated that the previous Conditions of Practice has been drafted in a way which was constructive, supportive and provided the Registrant with the opportunity to demonstrate remediation of his previous failings. There is no evidence from the Registrant that he has been able to date to comply with the Conditions of Practice that had been put in place at the time of the Consent hearing and this is for reasons which the Registrant has explained to this Panel. The HCPC submitted that in the current circumstances the reinstatement of the Conditions of Practice may be the most appropriate and proportionate sanction at this time.
22. The Registrant told the Panel that he realised that he perhaps should have taken more control of matters some years ago when he had reached a low in his personal and professional life. He accepted full responsibility for this and puts no blame on anyone else. He outlined the work he had recently secured which brought him into contact with a variety of members of the public and his identification of their personal needs has made him realise that he still has the wish and desire to return to his profession. The Registrant did not put before the Panel any written medical information and had not put anything in writing outlining his current position and skills. In evidence he referred to his past career and the current reading he has undertaken to keep his knowledge and skills up to date. He stated that he thought that he believed that he would be able to identify burn out but when it came to it, he wasn’t able to. He stated that he is now a different man from the man he was a few years ago and felt so much better. He stated that he had been through a ‘hell of a time of it’ and had learnt a lot from the experiences he has gone through. He understood that he was having to start again afresh and he appreciated more fully now the need for reflection and better control of personal development and wellbeing.
23. The Registrant stated that he understood that he can seek employment in an allied role which would use his transferrable skills. He was prepared to do this as part of his path back to resuming as a Social Worker.
24. In questioning the Registrant stated that he had not provided a reflective piece before the last review, as required by condition 6. He stated that he had not done this as he considered that this condition was to be undertaken whilst in a work environment as a Social Worker. He stated that he appreciated that he had not communicated well with his former manager and took full responsibility for this failure. He understood it was his professional responsibility to communicate and it was required for the safety of residents and colleagues.
Decision of this Panel.
25. The Panel started by considering the evidence it had that the Registrant had addressed his former failings. There was no evidence that the Registrant had remediated those failings although he had demonstrated remorse and insight at the consent hearing. The Panel came to the conclusion that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
26. Having made this decision, 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. In light of the evidence and submissions from both parties, the Panel is of the view that a Conditions of Practice Order is the appropriate and proportionate order. The Panel noted that the Registrant had been able to state clearly that he now felt himself able to return to work and that he had a better understanding and appreciation of what he was required to do to achieve this. As a starting point the Panel reviewed the conditions which had been imposed at the Consent hearing and considered whether they were appropriate, workable and practicable. In this regard it took into account the representations which Ms Senior had made as to how those conditions may be made more relevant to the Registrant’s current position by the inclusion of reference to a mentor as well as a supervisor, such mentor to be a qualified Social Worker.
30. After careful consideration the Panel has come to the decision that they would, with suitable amendment, adopt the conditions of practice which had been imposed at the Consent hearing with the following adjustments.
Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 18 months from the date that this Order comes into effect [“the operative Date”] you, Mr Paul David Reed, must comply with the following conditions of practice:
1. You must inform the HCPC within 14 days if you take up any employment for which HCPC registration is required.
2. Upon commencing employment, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor or mentor who is a Registered Social Worker to the HCPC within 28 days. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any change of supervisor.
3. You must work with your supervisor/mentor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practise:
a) Timeliness of record-keeping
b) Accuracy of record-keeping
c) Conducting comprehensive reviews of service user records
d) Identification of safeguarding concerns
e) Following safeguarding processes including referrals to other agencies for further assessment
4. You must meet with your supervisor/mentor on a monthly basis to review a sample of your notes and your progress towards meeting the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
5. Every 6 months, you must provide a report from your supervisor/mentor providing information regarding your progress towards meeting the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
6. No less than 28 days before the date of any review hearing, you must provide a reflective piece of writing to the HCPC which:
· Identifies the importance of communicating well with your manager;
· Identifies the importance of prompt and accurate note-keeping.
7. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any capability or disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.
8. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your employer or take up any other or further employment which requires your registration with the HCPC.
9. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
A. Any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;
B. Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and
C. Any prospective employer (at the time of your application)
History of Hearings for Mr Paul David Reed
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|30/11/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|31/05/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|
|07/07/2017||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Conditions of Practice|