Mr Simon Robert Oxford

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW37265

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 12/10/2018 End: 16:00 12/10/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

1. Did not appropriately apply child safeguarding thresholds in making decisions in relation
to cases:

a. Service User A

b. Service User B

c. Service User C

d. Service User D

e. Service User E

f. Service User F

g. Service User G

h. Service User H

2. Did not make decisions and/or recommendations within the required Timeframes upon
receipt of the following cases:

a. Service User I

b. Service User J

c. Service User K

d. Service User L

e. Service User M

3. Did not allocate the case of Service User N

4. The matters described in paragraphs 1 - 3 constitute misconduct and/or lack of
competence

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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was informed that the Notice of Hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered address on 2nd August 2018. The Panel noted that the Notice contained the date, time and venue of the hearing. Furthermore an email notice was sent to the Registrant’s email address on the same day. The Panel accepted that the Registrant’s registered address matched the address to which the Notice of Hearing was sent. The Panel was satisfied that good service was affected.

Proceeding in absence of the Registrant

2. Miss Mbah invited the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She highlighted the email received from the Registrant on 3 October 2018 in which he stated that he would not be able to attend due to his health issues.

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4. The Panel is satisfied that the Registrant has chosen to voluntarily absent himself from the hearing. He has not requested an adjournment and it is both in the Registrant’s own interest and the public interest that the matter be dealt with expeditiously.

Hearing in Private

5. Miss Mbah asked the Panel to proceed by way of the entire hearing being held in private. She said that this was something the Registrant had requested in his email of 3 October 2018. She highlighted background issues in respect of the Registrant’s health, although she accepted that she would be able to identify those parts of the case which dealt with health as opposed to more general aspects which could be heard in public.

6. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor

7. The Panel determined that those parts of the hearing that dealt with the Registrant’s health would be heard in private. However, those parts that could be heard in public would be heard in public as there was a public interest in doing so.

Background

8. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. He commenced employment with Bournemouth Borough Council (“the Council”) from 3 February 2014. The Registrant was employed as the Manager for the Children’s First Team.

9. In late February 2014, the Registrant was also asked to manage the Assessment and Safeguarding Service Team, in addition to his existing managerial duties.  
 
10. On 23 November 2014, the Health and Care Professions Council (“HCPC”) received a referral from the Council. The referral concerned the Registrant’s failure to apply the appropriate safeguarding thresholds and failures in making and/or recommending the appropriate course of action for safeguarding children.

11. On 11 January 2016, a panel of the Investigating Committee (“ICP”) found that there was a case to answer in respect of the following allegation against the Registrant and the matter was referred to the Conduct and Competence Committee.

12. The Registrant provided a response for the ICP, dated 4 December 2015,   in which he stated that “I am very sorry and remorseful that this situation occurred. In hindsight I should not have agreed to take on the management of two teams”.

13. He further stated that “it was documented that I was suffering from ill-health during the disciplinary and appeal process. Lastly he states that “I am extremely remorseful about my actions and the situation that evolved. I would like to state that this was not deliberate but on reflection I was out of my depth”.

14. A final substantive hearing was scheduled for 20 – 21 November 2017. The HCPC received correspondence from the Registrant via email, dated 15 November 2017, in which he stated that he was unable to attend the hearing due to “ill health”. The Registrant also stated that “I accept that I was clearly out of my depth during that period and should not have taken on the management of two teams”.  Lastly the Registrant stated that “The fact that I let down my colleagues makes me sad and has left me feeling stressed and anxious. This was not an intentional action. I apologise for this”.

15. The HCPC sought further clarification from the Registrant. A response was provided, by the Registrant dated 18 November 2017, in which he stated that “Ideally I would like to attend the hearing next week but my ill health prevents me from being able to”. He also states that “I have found this process hard and upsetting... I was clearly out of my depth… although it isn’t an excuse, I felt unwell at the time and was subsequently diagnosed with my illness. I am profoundly upset that I didn’t give the necessary support to my PM’s [Practice Managers] and I totally and utterly apologise for my actions. I am profoundly and deeply sorry for the actions that that caused my professionalism to fall below expectations”.

16. That panel decided to adjourn the hearing as it was of the view that it was in the interest of justice to grant the same due to the fact that the potential prejudice to the Registrant in proceeding outweighed the public interest.

17. A final substantive hearing was subsequently relisted for 16- 19 April 2018. No contact was received from the Registrant in the intervening period. The HCPC contacted the Registrant via email, dated 26 March 2018, seeking an update on his circumstances and to confirm whether he would be attending the final hearing.  The Registrant provided a response via email, dated 29 March 2018, in which he requested an adjournment and stated that “The Registrant also stated that “I haven’t been in practice (sic) for nearly four years and I do not intend to return to the profession. I haven’t paid any monies to the HCPC”.

18. The Registrant subsequently provided a further response via email, dated 10 April 2018, in which he explained that the Registrar in the medical team treating him advised that his Consultant would be unhappy to disclose his medical information. He also provided a further update in relation to his health. The Registrant’s postponement request was put to the panel Chair in advance of the hearing, scheduled to commence on 12 April 2018. The panel refused the request due to a lack of independent medical evidence regarding the Registrant’s health.

19. On 16 April 2018, the first day of the final substantive hearing, the panel reviewed the Registrant’s submissions which were provided for the refused adjournment request. The panel also contacted the Registrant to seek further clarification with respect to his health.  Following consideration of all the information before them, the panel decided to adjourn the hearing. The panel was satisfied that fairness to the Registrant outweighed the public interest in proceeding with the hearing. 

20. Following this second adjournment request, the HCPC reviewed the case and considered the circumstances suitable for a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA). The HCPC and the Registrant have now entered into a VRA. The Registrant has now signed the VRA.

21. Miss Mbah submitted that the Panel should grant the VRA as the appropriate level of public protection would be secured and doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. She informed the Panel that, although there was no corroborating evidence, the HCPC accepted the underlying health condition in this case. She asked the Panel to note that the allegation concerned both misconduct and/or a lack of competence.

22. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

23. The Panel considered the practice note ‘Disposal of Cases by Consent’. It noted the signed VRA agreement that was placed before it, and it considered the history of this case. The Panel was satisfied that by acceding to the VRA application, the appropriate level of public protection would be secured in that the Registrant would be removed from the Register. The Panel acknowledged the Registrant’s apology, regret, and insight into the matters that had brought him before the Panel.

24. The Panel accepted that the Registrant had recognised that he was “out of his depth” as he himself stated in his email dated 15 November 2017. The Panel also noted that the Registrant had indicated that he no intention to return to practice.

25. In respect of the wider public interest, which includes the need to declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession, the Panel was satisfied that the nature of the allegation is such that it would not be detrimental to the wider public interest to dispose of this matter by VRA. The Panel acknowledged the gravity of the allegation but was satisfied that it did not raise such wider public interest concerns that they could only be disposed of at a final hearing. This was because of the Registrant’s apology, insight, regret, and the acceptance by the HCPC of his underlying health condition.

 

 



Order

 

Order: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Simon Robert Oxford from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

If the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time the application would be treated as if the registrant had been struck off as a result of that allegation.
 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Simon Robert Oxford

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
12/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
16/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned
20/11/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned