Mr Lofton Alexander McTavish Hull

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW31899

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/04/2019 End: 17:00 16/04/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: No further action

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Allegation

During the course of your employment with Devon County Council as an agency Social Worker, you:

1. Found not proved.

2. Found not proved.

3. You spoke to Child A’s Consultant Oncologist, Dr D,

. in an aggressive and / or rude manner and/or by
ii. you interrupted what he was saying.

4. On 28 August 2015 you spoke to Doctor F, a junior doctor:

i. in a rude and / or aggressive manner and/ or

ii. you interrupted what she was saying.

5. During a telephone conversation with a Staff Nurse at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, you spoke to her in an aggressive manner;

6. On or around 12 October 2015, you disregarded the opinion of Person A when he advised that Child A was too unwell to attend a meeting and insisted that Person A and therefore Child A attend the meeting.

7. Did not maintain an effective relationship with Person A in that you gave him insufficient notice of scheduled meetings and /or contact sessions as follows;

a) on or around 10 September 2015, you contacted Person A at approximately 12.16pm and insisted that he and Child A had to attend a meeting at 11.00am the next day;

b) on or around 28 August 2015, you contacted Person A and informed him that a contact meeting was due to take place on the same day at 7.30pm;

c) on 15 September 2015, you contacted Person A at approximately 9.51am and informed him that a contact meeting was to take place at 10.30am on the same day;

d) on 12 October 2015, you contacted Person A at approximately 7.30am and informed him that a PEPS meeting was to take place on the same day at around 1pm.

8. Between February 2015 and October 2015, did not maintain an effective relationship with School E, in that you:

a) did not respond to e-mails and / or phone calls promptly and / or at all;

b) on or around 27 March 2015, did not attend a scheduled meeting and / or did not inform other attendees that the meeting had been cancelled;

c) did not communicate that meetings had been arranged and/or that dates had been changed and / or cancelled;

d) were rude and dismissive towards school staff.

9. Your actions described in Particulars 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 placed Child A at risk of harm and / or were not in the best interests of Child A.

10. The matters set out in Particulars 1 – 9 constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

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

 

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proceeding partly in Private
 
1.The Panel considered an application by the Registrant that the hearing should be held partly in private. The application was advanced on the basis that the protection of the private life of the Registrant required such a direction in relation to confidential matters concerning his health. This was not opposed by the HCPC.   The Panel granted the application, after hearing advice from the Legal Assessor to consider the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note on conducting hearings in private.

Background

2.This is a review under Article 30 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 (The Order). The Panel considered the HCPC bundle of 73 pages and an addendum bundle of 14 pages. The Panel also read the Registrant’s written submissions comprising 5 documents.

3.The Registrant is a Social Worker and was employed as an agency Social Worker by Devon County Council, from June 2014 until October 2015. On 21 August 2015 he became the allocated Social Worker for Child A and Child B. He was responsible for arranging contact between Child A and Child B and their mother (Mother A). Child A had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma which required chemotherapy treatment throughout 2015. Person A was the carer for Child A and Child B. Person A and Mother A did not live together.

Substantive hearing on 16 to 19 October 2017

4.The panel which made the substantive order of suspension for 12 months concluded that there was a possibility of full remediation and suggested further steps which might be taken, by the Registrant, for the consideration of the reviewing panel, in particular:

a)The Registrant’s attendance at the Review Hearing;

b)A reflective piece demonstrating that the Registrant has understood the significance of his misconduct and its impact on others and demonstrating how he would handle similar situations differently in the future;

c)Evidence of study and learning that demonstrates that the Registrant has learned how to communicate effectively with service users, carers and other professionals in a multi-disciplinary team;

d)Evidence of any paid or unpaid work since this hearing;

e)References or testimonials demonstrating the Registrant’s ability to work with others in a non-confrontational manner;

f)Evidence of the Registrant’s future plans as a Social Worker;


g)Evidence that the Registrant has maintained his Continuing Professional Development in anticipation of a return to work.

First review hearing on 8 to 9 October 2018

5.The review hearing panel decision states that:

(a)The facts not proved were particulars 1 and 2.

(b)The Registrant gave evidence at the review hearing and stated he had been appointed to the post of Deputy Manager of a children’s home in July 2018. He stated he had not practised as a Social Worker since May 2017.


(c)The Registrant stated he did not attend the original hearing because he had decided to give up social work. On reflection he decided that, after 40 years working in social care, his non engagement with the HCPC had been an “unpleasant way to end things”.

(d)The reviewing panel concluded that the Registrant’s oral evidence demonstrated only partial insight and there was insufficient evidence of remediation. Therefore the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired on personal and public policy grounds.


(e)The reviewing panel then went on to consider the appropriate and proportionate sanction and determined that taking no further action, mediation or imposing a caution would be insufficient to meet the public interest.

(f)The reviewing panel also considered whether to impose conditions of practice but noted that attitudinal failings had been identified and therefore appropriate conditions could not be formulated.


(g)The panel decided to impose a further period of suspension for 6 months.

(h)The reviewing panel gave guidance as to what would be helpful for the next reviewing panel to receive. This included the Registrant’s participation at the hearing, a reflective piece, evidence of CPD and testimonials.

Second Review Hearing on 16 April 2019

6.The Panel today noted two errors in the previous determination in that particular 2 was found proved and 4 (ii) was found not proved. These errors have been corrected in today’s determination.


Submissions from the Registrant

7.The Panel has considered a Reflective Supervision Report prepared by AB (Social Worker) stating that the Registrant has worked with her since November 2018 on reflective work arising from his suspension. AB has made recommendations to assist the Registrant to return to practice. The Panel considered AB to be balanced in her approach, highlighting positive areas of the Registrant’s practice as well as areas for further development.

8.The Registrant undertook six, one-hour sessions with Team Steps in 2019 to assist with time management and team working.

9. In response to Panel questions, the Registrant said that he worked as an agency Social Worker in Somerset from October 2015 to May 2017 and at a children’s home from September 2017 to April 2018. His appointment as a children’s home manager was not confirmed following his suspension. He also told the Panel about a two day training course in January 2019 through an agency and 15 shifts he had undertaken for Foundations Children and Families Ltd. He states that the Fitness to Practise process  has been a cathartic experience. The concerns giving rise to these proceedings arose from a short period, during a long career. He states he still has a lot to offer the profession and would hope to return to practice without restriction.

10.He accepts that he would need to undertake a return to work course before resuming practice as a Social Worker and has discussed with his supervisor AB enrolling on a BASW Return to Practice course. He states he will continue to develop and achieve further improvement regardless of the outcome of this review.

Submissions from the HCPC

11.Ms Iskander submitted that there is a persuasive burden on the Registrant today to show that the concerns raised have been sufficiently addressed by him, since October 2018. The HCPC accepts there are no concerns in respect of the Registrant’s competence. He has also provided documentary evidence of positive reflection and references, including a reflective statement. He has worked with a supervisor to develop his insight in particular in relation to the health matters relating to Child A. The HCPC takes a neutral position in relation to the issue of current impairment. Conditions could be imposed to ameliorate concerns in respect of his future practice, if there was a finding of current impairment. A further suspension or striking off order would not be appropriate.

Advice of the Legal Assessor

12.The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that the purpose of the review today was not to conduct a rehearing or to go behind the previous panels’ findings. He advised that in carrying out this further review, the Panel must have regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on Article 30 reviews and the Practice Note on Finding that Fitness to Practice is Impaired. If the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired the Indicative Sanction Policy (ISP) should be considered, in relation to the available sanctions, starting with the least restrictive.

Decision on Impairment as at today’s date

13.In reaching its decision today the Panel took into account the documents and oral submissions from Mr Hull and the submissions and documents supplied by the HCPC.

14.Article 30 of the 2001 Order provides that a suspension order must be reviewed before it expires. This Panel cannot go behind the findings of the previous panels.

15.The Panel considered the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled Article 30 Reviews and Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired”.

16.In determining whether fitness to practise is impaired, Panels must take account of a range of issues which, in essence, comprise two components: The ‘personal’ component: the current competence, behaviour etc. of the individual registrant; and the ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.

17.The personal component includes the issue of insight into the misconduct, the risk of repetition, whether the misconduct is remediable and whether it has been remedied. In respect of the public component the Panel has considered the “critically important public policy issues” which include the need to maintain confidence in the profession and declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

18.The Panel finds the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired. In reaching its decision the Panel took account of the following: 

a.The Panel finds that there is ample evidence of a substantial change since the substantive hearing and since the review hearing. The Registrant has developed his approach to supervision and become more reflective in relation to his own conduct and practice. He has apologised and recognised that his behaviour was unacceptable.

b.The Registrant has been respectful and measured in his approach today, showing that he has genuine regret for his misconduct and that his reflective discussions with AB have helped him to move on.

c.The Panel has considered a Reflective Supervision Report prepared by AB and a reflective piece from the Registrant, which was focused and specifically addressed the issues previous panels found to have not been addressed, such as the risk of harm to Child A and other learning points identified.

d.The Registrant has supplied positive references and testimonials from BH (Family Practitioner), HC (Line Manager), JS (Service manager) and HP (Company Director).

e.The Registrant has fully developed his insight into the matters giving rise to these proceedings, as demonstrated by the following:

• “We used the Driscoll model to reflect on the actual risk of harm to Child A, what the impact was of what I did, what has been learnt and how I would do things differently should I be faced with anything remotely similar. I have considered the risk I placed Child A in by ignoring the advice and the concerns this raised for the parent and the professionals involved” (Registrant’s Reflections).

•“Mr Hull has both recognised and acknowledged the significance of his misconduct and continues to work through the whole experience of his practice bravely reconsidering his style when working in partnership with families and other professionals” (Supervisor’s Comments).

•“What has always struck me about Mr Hull was his passion for his profession and how he had unconsciously allowed this to cloud his judgements and actions” (Team Steps letter dated 12 April 2019).

f.The risk of repetition is low and the evidence shows that the Registrant has undertaken a full remediation of his misconduct. The Panel finds he gave an honest and balanced analysis of his reflective journey demonstrating a real change of approach, through the range of remediation activities he has undertaken.
 
19.The Panel has carefully considered this case and adopted a purposive approach to Article 30 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. The Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is not impaired.  The Panel accepted the submission of the HCPC that it may revoke the current Suspension Order with immediate effect, because the notice of hearing refers to both Article 30 (1) and Article 30 (2) of the 2001 Order.

Order

The current Suspension Order is revoked with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Lofton Alexander McTavish Hull

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/04/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing No further action
08/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
16/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended