Mr Ian Rigg

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW33865

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 29/08/2019 End: 12:00 29/08/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

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.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. Notice of the review hearing was sent to the Registrant at his registered address on 30 July 2019, by special delivery post and also by email. The documentation was also sent to a further email address known to the HCPC on 27 August 2019.

2. The Panel had sight of a signed Proof of Service certificate confirming the sending of the Notice to the Registrant’s address held by the HCPC. The Notice set out the required information, including the date and venue for the hearing and gave the required notice period. The Panel was satisfied that the requirements of the rules in respect of service had been complied with.

Proceeding in Absence

3. Ms Ktisti, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that the Panel should exercise its discretion to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Registrant had not responded to the Notice of Hearing. 

4. Ms Ktisti reminded the Panel of the history of the Registrant’s engagement with the HCPC process. Having failed to engage with the HCPC proceedings since October 2016, the Registrant was in contact with the HCPC by email on 29 August 2018, the day before the first review hearing was scheduled to take place. He stated that he had been previously unaware of the review hearing and made various representations. The panel at the review hearing on 30 August 2018 decided, in light of this contact from the Registrant, to adjourn the review hearing to allow him the opportunity to attend. The Registrant subsequently stated in an email dated 6 September 2018 that he would give the review his fullest attention.

5. The re-listed first review hearing took place on 20 September 2018. No further communication was received from the Registrant in respect of that review hearing and he did not attend on that date. 

6. Ms Ktisti confirmed that since the email of 6 September 2018, there had been no further communication from the Registrant. The Registrant had not responded to the Notice of Hearing for today, 29 August 2019, and there had been no request for an adjournment. 

7. The Panel considered the submissions on behalf of the HCPC and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel referred to the HCPTS Practice Note of September 2018, Proceeding in Absence, and to the guidance in the cases of R v Jones (Anthony) [2004] 1 AC 1HL and GMC v Adeogba and GMC v Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162.  Applying that guidance, the Panel was careful to remember that its discretion to proceed in absence is not unfettered and must be exercised with the utmost caution and with the fairness of the hearing at the forefront of its mind.

8. The Notice of Hearing dated 30 July 2019 informed the Registrant that the Panel may decide to proceed with the matter in his absence and also explained the powers available to the Panel at this review hearing.  The Registrant had not communicated with the HCPC, nor its solicitors since September 2018 and appeared once more to have disengaged from the HCPC process. No request for an adjournment had been received, nor was there any indication that the Registrant wished to attend this hearing.

9. The Panel was mindful that this hearing is a mandatory review of the current order for suspension which is due to expire on 4 October 2019.  The Panel concluded the Registrant had waived his right to be present and that an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. The Panel was satisfied that it was in the public interest to proceed with the review hearing today. 

Documents

10. The Panel received a bundle of 47 pages from the HCPC.


Background

11. 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.

12. These concerns were reported by the Council to the HCPC and formed the subject matter of the particulars of Allegation in these proceedings.

13. The substantive 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 the 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.

14. The panel at the substantive hearing in December 2017 indicated that the Registrant would be expected to attend the future review and provide evidence as to the following:

a. Any reflection, insight and remorse regarding his misconduct;

b. Any CPD or training undertaken to remedy the failings identified in his practice;

c. Personal references from professionals (including in a voluntary capacity).

15. As stated above, the first review hearing scheduled for 30 August 2018 was adjourned upon the application of the Registrant. When the re-scheduled review hearing took place on 20 September 2018, the panel decided to continue the order for suspension for a period of twelve months. That panel stated that it had decided to give the Registrant a further opportunity to show his commitment to remediating his past failures of practice and return to practice as a Social Worker. It stated that the next reviewing panel would be assisted by the following:

a. The Registrant’s attendance at the hearing or, at least, his engagement with the review by telephone;

b. A reflective statement, in which the Registrant would be able to show that he had 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 had taken to remediate each of the identified failings;

c. Evidence as to what he had done to keep his knowledge and skills up to date, providing any recent certificates of completing relevant Continuing Professional Development Courses;

d. Evidence of any work, whether paid or unpaid, that he had undertaken;

e. Up to date references or testimonials from any employer or organisation for which he had worked;

f. Any medical evidence in support of his contention that his health had improved to the extent that his performance at work was unlikely to be adversely affected.

16. That panel also stated that the Registrant should be in no doubt that, at the next review, all options would be open to the future reviewing panel by way of sanction, including a Striking Off Order. It indicated that the Registrant should use the period leading up to the next review to fully engage with his Regulator and to provide evidence that he had taken steps to address his past failures in practice and to show that he was committed to returning to practice as a Social Worker.

Submissions

17. Ms Ktisti referred to the absence of any contact from the Registrant since 6 September 2018. He had not provided any evidence of insight or that he had remediated his past failings. There had been no change in circumstances since the last review hearing in September 2018 and the HCPC’s submission was that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained currently impaired. The HCPC’s position was that a further Suspension Order would not be proportionate and that the appropriate sanction was a Striking Off Order. 


Decision

18. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Ktisiti and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel referred to the HCPTS Practice Notes, Finding That Fitness to Practise is Impaired and Reviews of Article 30 Sanction Orders and to the HCPC Sanctions Policy.

19. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains currently impaired.

20. The Panel noted the history of the Registrant’s lack of engagement with these proceedings. He has not attended either of the review hearings which have taken place and has not put forward any substantive submissions. Apart from the expressions of remorse in his email of 29 August 2018, the Registrant has failed to provide any evidence of insight or remediation, whether by undertaking training or relevant work. He has not availed himself of the further opportunities given to him by the panels at the adjourned hearing on 30 August 2018 or the review hearing on 20 September 2018. He has not acted upon the clear advice given to him by these panels as to information which would assist the next reviewing panel. 

21. In the absence of engagement by the Registrant with this review process and in the absence of any evidence of remorse or insight on his part, or of any attempt to remediate his past misconduct, the Panel considered that there remains a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct. The Panel was also of the view that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the circumstances of this case. The Registrant’s failure to engage with the HCPC despite several opportunities being given to him over the course of these proceedings, undermines the HCPC ability to fulfil its function of regulating the profession and this undermines public confidence.  

22. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the grounds of public protection and the wider public interest. 

23. The Panel considered the available sanctions and referred to the Sanctions Policy. It applied the principle of proportionality and carefully considered the sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. 

24. 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.

25. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate because the Panel had no information about the Registrant’s current circumstances to assist it in formulating suitable conditions and, given his failure to engage over the course of this case, the Panel has no confidence in his willingness to comply with such an order.

26. The Panel considered whether a further period of suspension would be appropriate and proportionate. The Panel was mindful of the obligation upon an HCPC registrant to co-operate with the HCPC to and allow it to fulfil its regulatory function. Given the history of this matter, the Panel concluded that a further Suspension Order would serve no purpose, as there is no indication before the Panel that the Registrant has any intention to engage meaningfully with this process in the future or to make efforts to remediate his past misconduct. This is despite the opportunity given to him to engage at previous hearings, which he has failed to take up, and despite the clear guidance given to the Registrant by previous panels about the steps he needed to take. It was made clear to the Registrant in the decision of the panel at the last review hearing that the sanction of Striking Off would be available at this review. 

27. The Panel carefully considered the proportionality of moving to a Striking Off Order. It concluded, having rejected a Suspension Order, that the appropriate order which will protect the public and address the wider public interest in the circumstances of this case is a Striking Off Order.   

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Ian James Alan Rigg from the Register on the expiry of the current order.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Ian Rigg

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
29/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
20/09/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
30/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
04/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended