Mrs Jeanette Reeve

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW59166

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 08/10/2018 End: 12:00 08/10/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Nottinghamshire County

Council between June 2003 and November 2011, you:

1. Did not recognise risk, which placed service users at risk of harm;


2. Did not carry out timely Section 47 (child protection) enquiries;

3. Did not keep child protection records up to date;

4. Did not attend scheduled child protection meetings;

5. Did not follow up concerns raised by a school about service users' welfare;

6. Did not provide minutes of child protection meetings to families;

7. The matters described in paragraphs 1 - 7 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence;

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

 

Finding

Preliminary matters


Proceeding in private


1. Ms Senior invited the Panel to hear part of the hearing in private, where the evidence relates to the health of the Registrant or other third parties. The Registrant did not oppose the application. The Panel decided that the hearing should be held partly in private under Rule 10(1)(a) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”), insofar as matters were raised which concerned the health and other aspects of the private life of the Registrant.

2. At the outset of the hearing, Ms Senior outlined the background of the case. The Registrant also gave evidence to the Panel and provided it with three documents; a brief update of her current circumstances and two reflective pieces based on NSPCC case study reviews.

Background

3. The Registrant started work as a Social Worker with Nottinghamshire County Council in 2003. There were concerns about her practice and, consequently, an audit of her cases was undertaken in October 2009 and a number of issues of concern were identified. The Registrant had a period of absence from work due to sickness between December 2009 to June 2010. A further audit of her work was carried out in October 2010, which raised various concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the Registrant’s practice, and she was dismissed from her employment on 30 May 2012 following an internal disciplinary procedure.

4. On 17 October 2013, a Panel of the HCPC’s Conduct and Competence Committee found the Registrant’s fitness to practice to be impaired on grounds of misconduct arising from the facts as found proved.

5. The Registrant did not attend that hearing, nor was she represented. In its decision the Final Hearing Panel acknowledged that the Registrant had serious personal difficulties at the time of the events in question, but appeared to be unable to prioritise the most serious cases and address situations where service users were clearly at risk. It stated that an autonomous professional should have made her mentor or line manager aware of her difficulties and high caseload. That Panel concluded that the Registrant had failed to comply with basic principles of practice and that her actions had potentially put very vulnerable service users at risk.

6. The original Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired, but considered that her practice failings were remediable. That Panel stated that there was no evidence of remediation before it and that there was no information before it about the Registrant’s circumstances. That Panel imposed a period of suspension of 12 months and stated that a future reviewing Panel would be assisted if the Registrant were to produce evidence of reflective practice, particularly in relation to recognising and assessing risk and the need for appropriate action.

7. .The Suspension Order was reviewed on 27 October 2014 at a hearing attended by the Registrant. The Registrant gave oral evidence. There was also placed before that Panel an undated letter from the Registrant’s GP stating that she had been diagnosed with a health issue “last year”, so apparently in 2013.

8.  In its decision that reviewing Panel stated that the Registrant had shown limited insight, that it had not seen any compelling evidence of remediation and that the evidence given by the Registrant did not go to the heart of the problems that had been identified. A further period of suspension for 12 months was imposed and that Panel stated that a future Panel would be assisted by written evidence that the Registrant had fully reflected on her failings, fully recognised them, appreciated a need for appropriate action to be taken and had kept her professional skills and knowledge up-to-date.

9. The further Suspension Order was reviewed on 15 October 2015 at a hearing attended by the Registrant. In her oral evidence given to that reviewing Panel, she acknowledged that towards the end of her employment by the Council her work had not been up to the required standard, that she fully recognised her mistakes and had put children at risk and that she should have asked for support from work colleagues. She made reference to her own ill health and added that the medication for it had been working well. The Registrant produced a written piece on reflective practice, but that Panel found that it did “not go to the heart of things”, being too generalised and failing to address the particular concerns identified by the previous panels.

10. That reviewing Panel decided that although some progress had been made, it was not sufficient, particularly in relation to safeguarding. A further period of suspension of 12 months was imposed and in its decision that Panel stated that a future Panel might be assisted by written evidence that the Registrant had fully reflected on the specific failings identified by the original Panel and would be able to apply the lessons she had learned as a result.

11. The next reviewing Panel on 14 October 2016, having heard the Registrant’s oral evidence, came to the conclusion that she:


“demonstrated much improved insight into the failings that had led to the original finding of impaired fitness to practise. She unreservedly accepted her failings and if she were to find that events in her private life (whether caused by her health or otherwise) might adversely affect her safe and effective practise, her evidence was that she would inform colleagues before that happened, and consult her GP for advice.”

12. That Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired, but she should be permitted to return to practice subject to a Conditions of Practice order of 12 months. The conditions were considered to be necessary to secure the appropriate degree of public protection.

13.  When a Panel met to review the order of Conditions on 16 October 2017 it considered that a Conditions of Practice Order remained the appropriate and proportionate order. It varied the conditions to allow the Registrant to demonstrate efforts made by her to maintain her professional skills and knowledge and to show a commitment to returning to social work. The Registrant had not attended that hearing and the Panel was of the view that no new information was presented to it which addressed the risk of repetition of the misconduct identified in this case.

Decision


14. The Registrant gave evidence to the Panel as to what she has been doing since conditions were imposed and she explained it has only been in the last few weeks that she has been looking for social work positions because in the last year she has had a number of personal issues to deal with. She said that her work with Macmillan Cancer Charity in 2017 had allowed her to use some of her social work skills. She also informed the Panel that she had undertaken a three month assignment in a call centre. She explained that this had given her the opportunity to improve her record keeping skills. She also referred the Panel to her reflective pieces as evidence of insight and remediation. In answer to questions she further explained to the Panel how she would have dealt with the cases that originally brought her before this regulator. Whilst she said she would like the conditions lifted she stated that she would like supervision and to undertake a Personal Development Plan.

15. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant gave credible oral evidence of how she would manage risk if it arose. She also submitted that the Registrant gave good evidence as to what steps she would take to safeguard individuals if she were involved in a case such at the cases that brought her before the HCPC. Ms Senior asked the Panel to consider whether the Registrant has demonstrated that she has the ability to practice safely as a social worker without restriction.

16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Review of Article 30 sanction Orders””. It is carrying out a comprehensive reconsideration of the Conditions of Practice Order in light of the current circumstances. The Legal Assessor advised that in practical terms there was a persuasive burden on the Registrant to show that her fitness to practise is no longer impaired and that all the shortcomings which led to the original finding of impairment have now been overcome. The Panel was referred to the case of Khan v. General Pharmaceutical Council [2017] 1 WLR 169 (SC) and if the Panel was to decide that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continued to be impaired, it should decide how to exercise its powers under Art. 30(1) of the 2001 Order.

17. The Panel was aware that the issue of impairment is a matter for its own professional judgment.

18. The misconduct found proved at the substantive hearing was serious and put vulnerable service users at an unwarranted risk of harm. The areas of concern relate to record keeping, risk assessment and safeguarding. The Panel first considered the evidence put before it by the Registrant of steps taken to address the specific failings identified in the initial decision.

• In response to questions regarding how she would now deal with the cases which brought her before her regulator the Registrant mostly said that she would speak to her manager but she did say she would follow statutory procedures, such as Section 47, to safeguard a child. As before, the Registrant acknowledged that her practise at the time put service users at risk and she told the Panel that she should have stopped working;

• The Registrant explained how her work with Macmillan had enabled her to apply her social work skills in connection with domestic violence;

• The Registrant provided some evidence of reflection in relation to two NSPCC case studies but this was not specifically applied to the misconduct found proved.

In the light of this evidence the Panel concluded that the Registrant had continued to develop insight but had demonstrated insufficient evidence of remediation particularly in regard to risk assessment and safeguarding.


19. The Panel noted that it does not have any testimonials or references from either the call centre where she has worked for a brief period of time or from Macmillan, where she has undertaken work in a caring capacity. The Panel therefore concluded in the absence of sufficient evidence of remediation that Panel remained concerned that there was the risk of repetition of the conduct identified. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained liable to put vulnerable service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the future. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained impaired on public protection grounds.

20. The Panel also considered the wider public interest in the case. The Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker for a number of years, and in the absence of remediation, members of the public would be concerned if such a Registrant was able to practice without restriction. In those circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the need to uphold confidence in the profession and the regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

21. The Panel next considered the issue of sanction, and had in mind the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel was aware that sanction is a matter for its own professional judgement.

22. The Panel first considered a Caution Order and decided that this would not be appropriate because it would not place any actual restriction on the Registrant’s practice, which would address the public protection concerns. Further, the Panel was of the view that the misconduct found proved was too serious and that the public interest would not be served by such a sanction.

23. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. It considered that a further period of conditions is required which will enable the Registrant to continue to develop insight and demonstrate that she is able to return to work as a social worker. The Panel considered that there has been a lack of progress by the Registrant for the last two years whilst she has been subject to conditions of practise. However, a further period of conditions will enable the Registrant to proactively seek employment as a social worker and demonstrate to a future Panel that she is a safe practitioner. The Panel determined to vary the current conditions by removing the previous conditions 7 and 8, as they do not specifically relate to working as a social worker. The Panel therefore determined to impose a varied Conditions of Practice for a further period of 12 months, to take effect from the date of expiry of the current Conditions of Practice Order. The terms of this varied Conditions of Practice Order are set out below. A period of 12 months was considered proportionate in that it would allow the Registrant the time to find work and also to demonstrate compliance with the conditions. The Panel wishes to remind the Registrant that it is her responsibility to properly evidence, before any future Panel, whether by way of documentation, references, testimonials or otherwise that she is a safe practitioner.

24. The Panel did go on to carefully consider a Suspension Order but was of the view that this would be disproportionate at this stage given the registrant’s willingness to engage with the HCPC, and her expressed commitment to return to practice.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the HCPC Register to show that, for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order takes effect, being 14 November 2018 (“the Operative Date”), you, Mrs Jeanette Reeve, must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any employment or engagement or cease to be employed or engaged by any employer, person or other organisation with whom you propose to do social work.


2. Within 7 days of taking up work as a Social Worker, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC. You must attend upon that supervisor as required by condition numbered 3 below, and follow their advice and recommendations.


3.  You must meet with your supervisor on a fortnightly basis for the first 3 months that you attend work as a Social Worker, to consider and document your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan, and thereafter at intervals agreed with your supervisor.


4.  You must work with your workplace supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to ensure you are a safe and effective practitioner in the following areas of your practice: record keeping, risk assessment and safeguarding.


5.   Within 3 months of starting work as a Social Worker, you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.


6.  You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan, and a first report from the supervisor to be received by the HCPC 21 days before the date of the next review at the latest.


7. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you as a Social Worker.


8.  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 social 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).


9.  You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry.

Notes

A review was held in London on 8 October 2018 when a Panel varied the Conditions of Practice. This order will be effective from 14 November 2018.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Jeanette Reeve

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
16/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
14/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
15/10/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
27/10/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended