Mrs Joanne Louise Wilde

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW70638

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 21/08/2019 End: 17:00 21/08/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

Allegation (as found proved at the Final Hearing)
Whilst employed as a social worker at Nottinghamshire County Council, you:

1. In relation to Case D, between the dates of January and September 2015, did not:

a. consistently complete written records of your visits in a timely manner;
b. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
c. NOT PROVED;
d. complete a child in need visit at the child’s own house on 24 February
2015;
e. complete a chronology of the case.

2. In relation to Case E, between the dates of January and September 2015, did not:

a. conduct visits and/or consistently complete written records of your visits in a timely manner;
b. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
c. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
d. complete a chronology of the case.

3. In relation to Case I, did not:

a. between the dates of November 2014 and September 2015
i. NOT PROVED;
ii. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
iii. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
iv. complete a child in need plan;
b. hold a child in need review meeting between January and February 2015.

4. In relation to Case J, between the dates of December 2014 and October 2015, did not:
a. consistently complete written records of your visits in a timely manner;
b. consistently complete detailed records of your visits;
c. NOT PROVED
d. NOT PROVED

5. In relation to Case K, between the dates of August 2014 and October 2015 did not:

a. consistently complete written records of your visits and/or did not complete them in a timely manner;
b. consistently complete detailed records of your visits;
c. NOT PROVED
d. NOT PROVED
e. complete a record of a core group meeting in a timely manner;
f. NOT PROVED
g. NOT PROVED

6. In relation to Case L, between the dates of October 2015 and February 2016, did not:

a. consistently complete written records of your visits in a timely manner;
b. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
c. complete a looked after child visit at the agreed interval as set out in supervision;
d. HCPC OFFERED NO EVIDENCE
e. NOT PROVED

7. In relation to Case M, between the dates of October 2015 and April 2016 did not:
a. NOT PROVED
b. NOT PROVED
c. NOT PROVED
d. consistently complete records of your contact with multi-agency professionals;
e. NOT PROVED

8. In relation to Case N, between the dates of November 2015 and February 2016 did not:
a. NOT PROVED
b. NOT PROVED
c. NOT PROVED
d. NOT PROVED

9. In relation to Case R, between the dates of October 2015 and April 2016 did not:
a. consistently complete written records of your visits in a timely manner;
b. consistently complete detailed records of your visits;
c. NOT PROVED
d. hold a child in need review meeting in a timely manner.

10. In relation to Case V, between the dates of October 2015 and April 2016 did not:
a. NOT PROVED
b. NOT PROVED
c. NOT PROVED

11. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 10 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

The panel at the Final hearing found the factual particulars proved as set out above, that they amounted to misconduct, and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. The panel imposed a Conditions of Practice Order was a period of 12 months.

Finding

Background
1. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker, who was employed from 1999 by Nottingham County Council (NCC). In March 2010 the Registrant moved to the Newark District Child Protection Team based in Ollerton, where she was responsible for children who were the subject of Child in Need and Child Protection plans by the local authority. Concerns arose about the Registrant’s performance and an investigation was undertaken by NCC into those concerns which included the Registrant not completing records, statutory visits, review meetings, chronologies, referrals and assessments in relation to 10 cases between November 2014 and April 2016.

2. Two performance action plans were put in place to monitor and track the Registrant’s performance from 2014 to 2016. The Registrant left her employment on 21 March 2016.

3. At the Final hearing at the HCPC on 23-27 April 2018 and 30-31 August 2018, the Registrant attended by telephone and represented herself. The Registrant accepted that there were deficiencies in her record keeping and that she did not make required visits within the prescribed time scales but maintained that her failures were attributable to her health condition and work-related stress. The Registrant was critical of how NCC dealt with her health condition during her employment.

4. A panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee found that the failings identified in the Registrant’s professional practice amounted to a pattern of failing to meet record-keeping obligations in respect of vulnerable service users and constituted misconduct.

5. In terms of the Registrant’s insight at the Final hearing, the panel commented as follows:

“The Panel considered that the proven misconduct was remediable, and the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had demonstrated developing insight into her failings and the reasons for those failings. However, although the Registrant had displayed some reflection on her misconduct, no steps had actively been made by the Registrant to remedy the concerns in this case, and she had yet to show full insight. Therefore, the Panel concluded that there was a present risk of the repetition of the misconduct. Such a repetition would present a real risk of harm to service users. The present risk of repetition of the misconduct by the Registrant would, in the Panel’s view, be a matter of real concern to an informed member of the public, and there would therefore be a risk of the undermining of public confidence in the profession and its regulation if a finding of current impairment were not made.”

6. The panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired both on the grounds of public protection and from the point of view of the public interest.

7. That panel identified the mitigating and aggravating features of the case to be the following:
“Aggravating
• the sustained nature of the misconduct
• the potential risk to vulnerable service users arising from the misconduct
• the risk of repetition of the misconduct
        Mitigating
• the Registrant’s engagement in the process
• her previous good character
• the openness and honesty of her evidence
• there were some management failings
• her adverse personal circumstances at the time
• her remorse and developing insight
• her willingness to remedy the misconduct and keep her professional skills   and knowledge up to date”
8. That panel imposed a Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 12 months and considered that a reviewing panel may be assisted by the attendance of the Registrant; a report from her supervisor on the standard of her professional performance and record keeping; up to date references and testimonials; and evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and keeping her knowledge and skills up to date.

9. This is the first review of the Conditions of Practice Order imposed on 31 August 2018.

Submissions
10. Ms Senior, on behalf of the HCPC, told the Panel that the Registrant has not returned to work as a Social Worker and continues to work in hotel management, where she was working at the time of her Final hearing. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant has not provided evidence of compliance with either the Conditions of Practice or the suggestions made to her by the panel at the Final hearing and no evidence of any remediation.

11. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continues to be impaired and that a further 12 month period of Conditions of Practice would be appropriate in this case, to allow the Registrant to gather the requisite evidence of remediation to present to a future reviewing panel. Ms Senior proposed an amendment to the current Conditions to require a report from the Registrant’s supervisor, specifically commenting on the Registrant’s organisational skills and record-keeping as a Social Worker. 

12. The Registrant attended the hearing by telephone and represented herself. She confirmed to the Panel that she had continued to work in hotel management and had not yet sought employment as a Social Worker.  The Registrant said that she had concentrated on regaining her good health and her confidence, and proving to herself that she brought benefit to the workplace. She said that she was nervous about applying for a job as a Social Worker with Conditions imposed on her practice but said that she would try and that returning to professional practice was something that she was looking into. The Registrant said that she had been making enquiries about a Return to Practice course.

13. The Registrant acknowledged that she had not worked as a Social Worker for “quite some time” but told the Panel that she has kept herself updated and undertaken some training. She did not provide any supporting documentation to the Panel today but said that her manager would be providing a reference to the HCPC next week, together with the information about her training in relation to record-keeping and time management.

14. In terms of keeping her skills up to date, the Registrant told the Panel that she is involved with the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults in her current role in hotel events management. She gave specific examples of child exploitation/grooming and how her skills have been used in the workplace and told the Panel that she has delivered safeguarding training and produced a safeguarding booklet for use in her current team.

15. The Registrant acknowledged that, having reflected upon the original panel’s comments around her level of insight, she had perhaps focused in the Final hearing on her mitigating circumstances at that time. She assured the Panel, however, that she “fully understands” the consequences of not keeping up-to-date with record-keeping and the risks pertaining to that and that she could have demonstrated her insight more fully at the hearing.
Decision
16. This Panel accepted the advice it received from the Legal Assessor as to the proper approach it should adopt and had regard to the HCPTS 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.

17. The Panel bore in mind that it must first decide if a finding of current impairment is necessary to protect the public from any risk of harm (assessing the extent of that current or future risk), maintain public confidence in the profession, or to declare and uphold the proper standards of conduct or behaviour. This is a matter for the Panel’s independent judgment and is essentially a risk assessment in light of all the information before the Panel today.

18. The Panel bore in mind that any approach to the issue of whether a Registrant’s fitness to practise should be regarded as impaired must take account of the need to maintain confidence in the profession as well as declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and carefully considered the HCPTS Practice Note on “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’” and all the evidence before it.

19. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s case has not moved on factually since the Final hearing. The Panel bore in mind that the Registrant was not working as a Social Worker and that, therefore, the Conditions imposed in August 2018 had not been engaged. It accepted the Registrant’s explanation around her commitment to regain her good health and confidence in the workplace in a non-registered role. The Panel was heartened by the Registrant’s confirmation that she is enjoying good health and that she has contributed significantly in her employment in hotel management.
20. The Registrant had not, however, evidenced her efforts to remediate the deficiencies found proved at the Final hearing. She had not provided the Panel with a reference from her manager (albeit that this would be in relation to a non-registered role), any testimonials, or evidence of Continuing Professional Development or other training. The Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise continues to be impaired. In the absence of any evidence of remediation, the Panel remained concerned that there was a risk of repetition of the failings identified. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained liable to put service users at risk of harm in the future and that the Registrant remained impaired on the personal component.
21. The Panel then considered the public component and the wider public interest in the case. The Panel was of the view that, in the absence of remediation, members of the public would be concerned if such a registrant were able to practise without restriction. In those circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the need to protect the public, and to uphold confidence in the profession and the regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.
22. The Panel next considered the issue of sanction, and had in mind the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy. The Panel was aware that sanction is a matter for its own professional judgement. It has borne in mind that any sanction must be proportionate and that the primary purpose of sanction is protection of the public. Any sanction it imposes must protect the public but must be the least restrictive sanction that achieves that aim.
23. 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.
24. The Panel then considered whether a further period of conditions of practice would be appropriate to enable the Registrant to proactively seek employment as a Social Worker and demonstrate to a future panel that she is a safe practitioner. The imposition of a conditions of practice order requires a registrant to engage fully with the fitness to practise process to protect the public and improve her professional practice, with a view to returning her to safe and unrestricted practice. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s stated intention to return to professional practice and to demonstrate remediation and considered that Conditions could continue to address the risks in question, without suspension being required.

25. The Panel decided to vary the Conditions to enable the Registrant to be supervised by a supervisor registered with the HCPC, but not necessarily a Social Worker. The Panel was of the view that in light of the fact that, in practice, a supervisor manages a multi-disciplinary team, the requirement for the Registrant to be supervised by a Social Worker might not be possible and could be unduly restrictive. It considered that supervision from another professional registered with the HCPC would be sufficient to address the concerns in this case. Further, the Panel noted that Condition 4 requires the Registrant to meet on a monthly basis with her registered supervisor and decided that the Registrant should also provide a report from her registered supervisor, commenting on her record-keeping and organisational skills.

26. The Panel considered that to extend the Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 12 months would be sufficient time for the Registrant to secure employment as a registered Social Worker and to prepare evidence of remediation for the next review hearing. It considered that the time period was appropriate and proportionate in order to protect the public and maintain public confidence in the profession and its regulation.

27. This Conditions of Practice Order will be reviewed towards the end of the twelve month period and this Panel would expect any future panel to be assisted by the following:
• The Registrant’s attendance at the next review hearing, either in person or by telephone;
• A report from her line manager commenting on the standard of the Registrant’s performance and record-keeping in any job or role that the Registrant is undertaking, whether or not as a registered Social Worker;
• evidence of the Registrant’s adherence to HCPC Continuing Professional Development requirements;
• information and references concerning any paid or voluntary  employment and evidence of any training the Registrant has undertaken to address the misconduct identified.

28. For the avoidance of doubt, this list is not exhaustive and it is provided only for the Registrant’s assistance; she must understand that it does not bind the future reviewing panel in any way.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, you, Mrs Joanne Louise Wilde, must comply with the following conditions of practice for a period of 12 months from the date of the expiry of the existing Order.
1. You must immediately inform the following parties that you are subject to a conditions of practice order under the HCPC's fitness to practise procedures, and disclose the conditions listed above, to them:
(a) Any organisation or person employing, contracting with, or using you to undertake social work;
(b) Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with to work as a Social Worker (at the time of application or interview); and
(c) Any prospective employer with whom you are seeking employment as a Social Worker (at the time of application or interview).
2. Within 14 days of commencing paid or unpaid employment as a Social Worker in the UK or elsewhere, you must notify the HCPC and provide the HCPC with contact details of your employment and your employer.
3. At any time that you are working as a Social Worker, you must place yourself under the supervision of a professional registered with the HCPC, and supply details of that supervisor to the HCPC within 14 days of him or her undertaking that role.
4. You must meet with your supervisor, who is registered with the HCPC, on a monthly basis to consider your performance in your duties as a Social Worker with emphasis on your organisational skills and record-keeping.
5. Prior to the next review hearing, you must provide to the HCPC a report from your supervisor, who is registered with the HCPC, commenting on the standard of your record-keeping and organisational skills.
6. You must inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you as a Social Worker within 14 days.

Notes

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 28 September 2020.

Right of Appeal:
You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.

Under Articles 30(10) and 38 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made to the court not more than 28 days after the date when this notice is served on you.

European Alert Mechanism:
In accordance with Regulation 67 of the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015, the HCPC will inform the competent authorities in all other EEA States that your right to practise has been restricted.

You may appeal to the County Court against the HCPC’s decision to do so.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. This right of appeal is separate from your right to appeal against the decision and order of the Panel.

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Joanne Louise Wilde

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
21/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
23/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard