Mr Ian James Alan Rigg
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Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Suffolk County Council:
1. In regards to service user 1, when you were not professionally involved in her case, you;
a) During 2016, accessed her Care First Record
b) In March 2016, emailed her hospital team about the case; and/or
c) In March 2016, sent an Activity on her Care First Account to the hospital team
2. In regards to service user 2 you, in January 2015, ordered Occupational Therapy equipment for her when you were not professionally involved in her case.
3. Did not conduct adequate case work and / or keep up to date and/or accurate service user records, in that:
a) For service user 5, between January 2016 and on or around 6 April 2016, you did not maintain adequate records on Care First in that you:
i. Did not record all contact with service user 5;
ii. Did not enter notes on Care First of your visit on 20 January 2016;
iii. Did not enter records of any follow up actions and / or outcomes in respect of the Adult MASH and section 42 enquiry;
iv. Did not record an Eligibility Decision Record, Personal Budget Summary and / or Care and Support Review;
v. Did not update the service user agreement to refer to the 50:50 funding agreement with the Children and Young People Team
b) For service user 4:
i. you did not send their Continuing Health Care checklist to the Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group;
ii. You did not document any action or records for this service user between 24 September 2015 and April 2016;
iii. you closed the case when further casework was required,
c) For service user 7, between October 2015 and on or around 6 April 2016, you did not record on Care First:
i. The meeting on 18 November 2015 where the case was discussed;
ii. The home visit of the 8 March 2016; and/or
iii. Found not proved
iv. any action or records for this service user between 22 October 2015 and April 2016;
d) Found not proved
e) You did not properly request budget approval for:
i. Found not proved;
ii. Found not proved;
4. On or around 19 August 2015 you sent inappropriate and/or unprofessional emails about a service user to a work colleague.
5. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 4 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
6. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
1. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had been properly served with notice of this adjourned review hearing by letter and email dated 4 September 2018.
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant
2. Mr Mason made an application for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. He reminded the Panel that the hearing of this review had been adjourned on 30 August 2018 for the benefit of the Registrant. Having failed to engage with the HCPC since October 2016, the Registrant had contacted the HCPC on 29 August 2018, claiming that he had been previously unaware of the review hearing and making various representations. The Registrant was notified of the re-listed hearing date by letter and email dated 4 September 2018. A further email was sent to the Registrant on 5 September 2018 notifying him that the hearing on 30 August had been adjourned and had been re-listed on 20 September 2018. The Registrant responded by email dated 6 September 2018 expressing amazement that the hearing had been adjourned and saying that he would give the review his fullest attention. No further communication had been received from the Registrant prior to today’s hearing date.
3. Mr Mason submitted that, in these circumstances, the Registrant had waived his right to attend. He submitted that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
4. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. On the basis of all the information referred to above, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had deliberately absented himself and waived his right to attend the hearing. Today’s hearing was a mandatory review of a substantive order, which was due to expire on 4 October 2018. The Panel decided that the hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant.
5. The Registrant was employed as a grade 5 Social Worker by Suffolk County Council (“the Council”) from July 2012 until 2016. In the course of his employment, there were concerns about his unauthorised access to service user records, improperly initiating actions, failure to conduct adequate case work and failure to enter notes and records on case files.
6. These concerns were reported by the Council to the HCPC and form the subject matter of the particulars of Allegation in these proceedings.
7. The final hearing of the Allegation took place before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 4-7 December 2017, which the Registrant did not attend. The proven particulars of Allegation referred to above were found by the Panel to constitute misconduct. The Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired in relation to both “personal” and “public” components. The Panel found that, in the absence of any evidence of remediation, there was a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct and that service users would thereby be put at significant risk of harm. In addition, public confidence in the profession would be undermined without a finding of impairment.
8. That Panel indicated that the Registrant would be expected to attend the future review and provide evidence as to the following:
• Any reflection, insight and remorse regarding his misconduct
• Any CPD or training undertaken to remedy the failings identified in his practice
• Personal references from professionals (including in a voluntary capacity).
9. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle comprising the decision of the Panel at the final hearing and the adjourned review hearing together with emails between the HCPC and the Registrant from and including 29 August 2018.
10. The Panel took into account the submissions of Mr Mason on behalf of the HCPC and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
11. The Panel also took into account the email dated 29 August 2018 from the Registrant to the HCPC in which he expressed remorse for his past misconduct and stated that he was suffering from adverse health at the relevant time. He indicated that he was now in a better state of health. He further stated that he had been unemployed since his dismissal by Suffolk County Council.
12. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. Apart from his expressions of remorse in his email of 29 August 2018, the Registrant had failed to provide any evidence of insight or remediation, whether by undertaking training or relevant work. In the absence of such evidence, the Panel considered that there remains a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct. In these circumstances, his fitness to practise remains impaired.
13. In considering what, if any, sanction to impose at the expiry of the existing order, the Panel took into account the submissions of Mr Mason. The Panel also took into account the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
14. The Panel considered the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness and applied the principle of proportionality.
15. The Panel considered that it would not be appropriate to impose no order or a Caution Order because the public would not thereby be protected.
16. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate because the Panel had no information about the Registrant’s current circumstances or his willingness to comply with such an order.
17. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that a further Suspension Order for a period of 12 months would be appropriate to give the Registrant a further opportunity to show his commitment to remediate his past failures of practice and to return to practise as a Social Worker.
18. The next reviewing Panel is likely to be assisted by the following:
• The Registrant’s attendance at the hearing or, at least, his engagement with the review by telephone
• A reflective statement, in which the Registrant is able to show that he has reflected on the potential harm of his misconduct on service users and colleagues, the negative impact of his past failings on the reputation of the profession and what steps he has taken to remediate each of the identified failings
• Evidence as to what he has done to keep his knowledge and skills up to date, providing any recent certificates of completing relevant Continuing Professional Development Courses
• Evidence of any work, whether paid or unpaid, that he has undertaken
• Up to date references or testimonials from any employer or organisation for which he has worked
• Any medical evidence in support of his contention that his health has improved to the extent that his performance at work is unlikely to be aversely affected.
19. The Registrant should be in no doubt that, at the next review, all options will be open to the reviewing Panel by way of sanction, including a Striking Off Order. The Registrant should use the period leading up to the next review to provide evidence that he has taken steps to address his past failures in practice and that he is committed to returning to practise as a Social Worker.
That the Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mr Ian James Alan Rigg for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 4 October 2019.