Ms Diane Cooke

Profession:

Registration Number: SW69371

Hearing Type: Voluntary Removal Agreement

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

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Voluntary Removal agreed

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Allegation

The following allegation was found proved by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 19-23 & 26 February 2018, 9-10 May 2018, and 9-11 July 2018.


During the course of your employment as a Social Worker for Lincolnshire County Council:
1) Between 2011 and 2015 you stored confidential service user documents at your home.
2) On an unknown date in 2015 you attempted to dispose of confidential service user documents by giving them to an unauthorised person (Person A) to destroy.
3) On an unknown date between April 2014 and November 2014 you left confidential service user documents with an unauthorised person (Person B) and/or allowed an unauthorised person (Person B) access to confidential service user documents.
4) In relation to Service User A, between January 2015 and May 2015, you:
(a) [NOT PROVED]
(b) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
(c) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
(d) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
(e) Did not record the discussions with Person C about contact between Service User A and his father (Person D)
(f) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
(g) Informed Service User A’s teacher that Person C and Service User A shared the same bed without obtaining Person C’s consent to disclose this.
(h) Informed the head of Service User A’s nursery that Person C had been abused by her father without obtaining Person C’s consent to disclose this.
(i) Did not refer Person C to Family Support.
(j) [NOT PROVED]
(k) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
(l) Did not fully record the minutes for the Child in Need meetings held on 9 February 2015 and/or 19 March 2015.
5) In relation to Service User B, between March 2015 and April 2015, you did not:
(a) Complete and/or record completing agency checks with the police, fire brigade and/or Service User B’s nursery.
(b) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
6) In relation to Service User C, between May 2015 and August 2015, you did not:
(a) [NOT PROVED]
(b) [DISCONTINUED FOLLOWING HALF TIME SUBMISSION]
7) In relation to Service User D, between August 2015 and October 2015, you did not:
(a) Complete and/or upload to ICS a Child in Need plan.
(b) Record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 21 September 2015.
(c) Record the views of Service User D.
(d) Record the outcome and/or a risk analysis of the section 47 investigation.
8) In relation to Service Users E, F and G, between July 2015 and October 2015, you:
(a) Completed the Children’s Social Care Assessment outside of the 45 working days time limit.
(b) Did not complete child specific assessments in respect of Service user F and/or Service User G.
(c) Did not speak with and/or record speaking with Service user F and/or Service User G.
(d) Did not follow a management instruction to complete direct work with Service User E around risk taking behaviour.
(e) Did not fully record the minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 20 July 2015.
(f) Did not record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 28 August 2015.
(g) [NOT PROVED]
9) In relation to Service Users H and I, between May 2015 and October 2015, you did not:
(a) Adequately complete and/or upload to ICS Child in Need plans.
(b) Record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 16 September 2015.
(c) Record the outcome and/or a risk analysis of the section 47 investigation.
(d) Follow a management instruction to see Service User H alone.
10) The matters described at particulars 1 to 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.

The substantive hearing panel found particulars 1, 2, 3, 4(e), 4(g), 4(h), 4(i), 4(l), 5(a), 7(a), 7(b), 7(c), 7(d), 8(a), 8(b), 8(c), 8(d), 8(e), 8(f), 9(a), 9(b), 9(c), and 9(d) proved, that these particulars amounted to misconduct, and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. The Panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 9 months.

The Suspension Order was reviewed on 05 April 2019 and extended for a further period of 4 months. The Suspension Order is due to expire on 08 September 2019.

 

Finding

Preliminary matters:

1. The case for the HCPC was presented by Ms Louisa Simpson. The Registrant attended by telephone. The Panel had sight of the original final hearing determination dated 11 July 2018 and the substantive review hearing decision of 05 April 2019.


Background:


2. The Registrant was registered with the HCPC and employed as a Social Worker by Lincolnshire County Council (“the Council”), in the Family Assessment and Support Team, between 11 November 2011 and 18 March 2016. It was alleged that between 2011 and 2015, the Registrant stored confidential service user records at her home, and that she attempted to dispose of some of these by giving them to her partner, Person A, to destroy at his workplace. It was also alleged that the Registrant left confidential service user records with an unauthorised person, Person B, or allowed him to access such records. Additional concerns had been raised in respect of the quality and standard of the Registrant’s work and record-keeping. The matters were referred to the HCPC, and the following allegations were found proved at a substantive hearing which concluded on 11 July 2018.


During the course of your employment as a Social Worker for Lincolnshire County Council:


(1) Between 2011 and 2015 you stored confidential service user documents at your home.


(2) On an unknown date in 2015 you attempted to dispose of confidential service user documents by giving them to an unauthorised person (Person A) to destroy.


(3) On an unknown date between April 2014 and November 2014 you left confidential service user documents with an unauthorised person (Person B) and/or allowed an unauthorised person (Person B) access to confidential service user documents.


(4) In relation to Service User A, between January 2015 and May 2015, you:


e) Did not record the discussions with Person C about contact between Service User A and his father (Person D).


g) Informed Service User A’s teacher that Person C and Service User A shared the same bed without obtaining Person C’s consent to disclose this.


h) Informed the head of Service User A’s nursery that Person C had been abused by her father without obtaining Person C’s consent to disclose this.


i) Did not refer Person C to Family Support.


l) Did not fully record the minutes for the Child in Need meetings held on 9 February 2015 and/or 19 March 2015.


(5) In relation to Service User B, between March 2015 and April 2015, you did not:


a) Complete and/or record completing agency checks with the police, fire brigade and/or Service User B’s nursery.


(7) In relation to Service User D, between August 2015 and October 2015, you did not:


a) Complete and/or upload to ICS a Child in Need plan.


b) Record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 21 September 2015.


c) Record the views of Service User D.


d) Record the outcome and/or a risk analysis of the section 47 investigation.


(8) In relation to Service Users E, F and G, between July 2015 and October 2015, you:


a) Completed the Children’s Social Care Assessment outside of the 45 working days time limit.


b) Did not complete child specific assessments in respect of Service User F and/or Service User G.


c) Did not speak with and/or record speaking with Service User F and/or Service User G.


d) Did not follow a management instruction to complete direct work with Service User E around risk taking behaviour.


e) Did not fully record the minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 20 July 2015.


f) Did not record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 28 August 2015.


(9) In relation to Service Users H and I, between May 2015 and October 2015, you did not:


a) Adequately complete and/or upload to ICS Child in Need plans.


b) Record minutes for the Child in Need meeting held on 16 September 2015.


c) Record the outcome and/or a risk analysis of the section 47 investigation.


d) Follow a management instruction to see Service User H alone.


3. The final hearing panel found that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct and that her fitness to practise was impaired by that misconduct. That panel imposed a 9 month Suspension Order. At the first substantive review hearing on 5 April 2019, the Registrant indicated that she was willing to enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement as she was unable to work or undertake training to address the shortcomings in her practice as a Social Worker because of the deterioration in her on-going health condition. The reviewing panel took the view that, as a return to practice was no longer a viable option, it was fair and reasonable to give the Registrant the opportunity to enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement. It therefore imposed a Suspension Order for a period of four months. This would also allow time for consideration of a Voluntary Removal Agreement.


4. On 8 April 2019 the Registrant wrote to the HCPC to request that her name be removed from the HCPC Register. The matter was reviewed internally by the HCPC before it was decided that voluntary removal would be a suitable disposal of this matter.


Decision:


5. The Panel heard from Ms Simpson who outlined the background to the case and the circumstances which led to the imposition of the original Suspension Order. Ms Simpson advised the Panel that the Registrant had indicated that she wished to have her name removed from the HCPC Register. She also advised that the HCPC was satisfied that it would meet its statutory objective of protecting the public if the Registrant was permitted to be removed from the Register on similar terms to those which would apply if the Registrant had been struck off the Register in terms of Article 29(5)(a) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. Ms Simpson advised the Panel that the Registrant had signed the Voluntary Removal Agreement. Ms Simpson asked that the Panel revoke the current Suspension Order and approve the Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Registrant confirmed that she agreed with the submissions made by the HCPC.


6. The Panel considered all of the information and representations by Ms Simpson on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel has applied its own judgement to the application to revoke the current Suspension Order and to approve the Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Panel has also had regard to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent and has accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


7. The Panel noted that the HCPC is satisfied that it would be meeting its statutory objective of protecting the public if the Registrant was permitted to be removed from the Register on similar terms to those which would apply if she were subject to a striking off order under article 29(5) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.


8. The Panel had before it a Voluntary Removal Agreement which has been agreed between the Health and Care Professions Council and the Registrant and signed and executed by the parties. In it, the parties agree that the allegation was well founded and the Registrant agrees to be removed from the HCPC Register on the terms and conditions fully set out in that Agreement. A Declaration that there was no other matter of which the Registrant was aware which might give rise to any other allegation was also signed by the Registrant.


9. The Panel firstly considered whether there were any factors which would make it undesirable to allow the matter to be dealt with on the consensual basis as set out in the Voluntary Removal Agreement. The Panel has concluded that in the circumstances of this case, there are no such overriding public interest factors. The matters have already been considered at the final hearing and a substantive review hearing and a sanction imposed following a finding of impairment.


10. The Panel has also considered whether the Voluntary Removal Agreement would secure an appropriate level of public protection. The Panel is aware that if the Registrant seeks to return to the HCPC Register at any time in the future, her application would be treated as if she had been struck off as a result of the allegation. The Panel is therefore satisfied that this secures the necessary degree of public protection.


11. In all the circumstances, the Panel is satisfied that both the public, and the public interest, would be adequately protected by the terms of the agreement reached between the Registrant and the HCPC in as much as the Registrant will henceforth be prevented from acting as a Social Worker and should she wish to apply to return to the Register, she will be treated as though she had been struck off. In addition the Panel is satisfied that this is an efficient method of disposing of this matter in an appropriate and proportionate manner which is in the interests of the public, the HCPC and the Registrant and accordingly revokes the current Suspension Order and approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement.

Order

The Panel directs that the Suspension Order (the Existing Order) be revoked and approves the Voluntary Removal Agreement on the basis that the Registrar will remove the name of Ms Diane Cooke from the Register with immediate effect. 

Notes

Voluntary Removal Agreement hearing of the Conduct and Competence Committee which took place at The Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service 405 Kennington road London SE11 4PT on Thursday 8 August 2019 at 10:00am.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Diane Cooke

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
08/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Voluntary Removal Agreement Voluntary Removal agreed
08/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Voluntary Removal Agreement Hearing has not yet been held
05/04/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
09/07/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
19/02/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard