Ms Yvonne Frankum

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW39166

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 23/08/2019 End: 17:00 23/08/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

As found proven at the final hearing on 29 August 2018:

 

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Bolton Council:
1. Between 2015 and 2016, you did not maintain accurate and/or up to date records for your Service Users, which included:
a. For Service User A:
i. Your diary showed a visit on 30 July 2015 but this was not recorded on Liquid Logic;
ii. Your diary showed a visit on 3 August 2015 but the Liquid Logic entry made states it was cancelled as you were going home sick; and/or
iii. Found not proven
b. For Service User B:
i. Your diary showed a visit on 1 October 2015 but this was not recorded on Liquid Logic; and/or
ii. Your diary showed a visit on 12 October 2015 but this was not recorded on Liquid Logic.
c. Found not proven
2. Did not comply with departmental and/or legal deadlines, which included:
a. For Service Users I and J:
i. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) was due on the 29 August 2015 but was still outstanding in October 2015.
ii. A statement to the Court providing an update on the children’s behaviour which was due on 4 September 2015.
b. For Service User D you did not update the Service User Risk Assessment when they were accommodated in residential care on 25 June 2015.
c. Between 6 May 2015 and October 2015 did not complete a Section 7 report for Service User E.
d. For Family 2, you were allocated the case on 31 July 2015 and:
i. the carer’s report (CRC) was outstanding on the due date of 16 October 2015; and/or
ii. Found not proven
e. Found not proven
3. You did not undertake statutory visits for all your service users, which included:
a. between August 2015 and October 2015 for Family 2;
b. visits for Service User E between 12 May 2015 and October 2015;
c. visits to Service User A between 30 July 2015 and October 2015;
d. visits to Service User B between September 2015 and October 2015;
e. visits to Service User C between September 2015 and October 2015;
f. Found not proven
4. On 19 October 2015, following a Court hearing, you refused to take Service User F into care.
5. In or around September 2015 you did not inform the father of Family 2 in a timely way of the Local Authority’s plan for adoption.
6. The matters set out in paragraphs 1-5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
7. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:


Service of Notice:


1. The Notice of today’s Hearing was sent to the Registrant at her registered address on 24 July 2019 and she attended by telephone.


Private Hearing:


2. Ms Senior submitted that, given the issues which were raised in the Substantive Hearing, this review hearing should, in whole or in part, take place in private as personal and health issues were likely to be discussed. The Registrant stated that she did not object.


3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It was referred to the HCPTS Practice Note on Conducting Proceedings in Private and in exercising its discretion considered Rule 10(1)(a), which states that a hearing - “shall be held in public unless the Committee is satisfied that, in the interests of justice or for the protection of the private life of the health professional…the public should be excluded from all or part of the hearing.”


4. The Panel took the view that it was appropriate and in the interests of justice to conduct the hearing in private if and when any health or personal issues arise in order to protect the Registrant’s right to a private life.

Background:


5. Ms Senior outlined the background. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. She was employed as a Senior Social Worker at Bolton County Council (the Council) in the Safeguarding Team. She began her employment with the Council in March 2006 undertaking safeguarding work. She became a Senior Social Worker in 2007.


6. The Registrant had a period of absence due to sickness between September 2014 and April 2015. On her return, she had a reduced caseload and reduced hours with a phased return to full-time work. In October 2015, as a result of covering a child protection conference for Service User B, a case that the Registrant had been allocated in September 2015, a Team Manager of the Safeguarding Team and the Registrant’s Line Manager, identified that the Registrant had not yet visited the child in question.


7. The Team Managers within the Safeguarding Team and her Line Manager sought to meet with the Registrant on an informal basis to address the concerns surrounding the case of Service User B. Prior to that meeting a number of other concerns in relation to the Registrant’s cases were brought to the attention of her Team Manager. The Registrant was suspended on 26 October 2015 pending an investigation by the Council.


8. The Registrant is alleged to have failed to keep accurate records, failed to meet deadlines, failed to conduct visits, and failed to follow a management instruction to take a child into care. As part of the investigation, the Registrant was interviewed by the Council in February and March 2016. A disciplinary hearing was held on 14 June 2016. The matter was subsequently referred to the HCPC.


9. Following a Substantive hearing in January, May and August 2018 the allegations were found to amount to misconduct, and the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired. That panel imposed a Suspension Order for 12 months.


HCPC Submissions:


10. Ms Senior told the Panel that this is the first Substantive Review of the Suspension Order imposed on 30 August 2018, which is due to expire 27 September 2019.


11. Ms Senior advised the Panel that at the Substantive Hearing, particulars 2 d) i) and 4 were found not to amount to misconduct. Further, particular 2 e) was part proved in part only, in respect of not ensuring meetings were taking place. The Panel had found that the Registrant had repeatedly failed to meet the standards expected of a Social Worker in respect of vulnerable Service Users. She reminded the Panel that there was an onus or persuasive burden on the Registrant to show remediation and insight. She reminded the Panel that this was not a health case and that it may not go behind the findings of the panel at the Substantive Hearing.


12. Ms Senior referred to the email from the Registrant dated 30 July 2019. She submitted that the Registrant had not discharged the onus upon her to persuade the Panel that she her fitness to practise is no longer impaired. She submitted that there was no evidence of remediation or insight and she submitted that the Registrant should therefore not be allowed to return to unrestricted practice.


13. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant’s practice is still impaired and she invited the Panel to consider either a further Suspension Order or a Striking Off Order. She suggested that Conditions of Practice would not be appropriate and submitted that a Striking Off Order may be appropriate in these circumstances.


14. Ms Senior advised that Voluntary Removal from the Register was something the Registrant was entitled to seek at any time, and that would be considered.


The Registrant’s Submission


15. The Registrant advised that she had read some social work publications but, otherwise, she had not kept her practice up to date as she had no desire to return to practice. The Registrant said she had reflected and said she was “gutted” about the impact of her actions on service users. She said her actions could have had serious consequences on service users. She said she had not felt supported and she ought to have raised her concerns more effectively. The Registrant acknowledged her failings and said that in future she would raise concerns more robustly with her managers and record her concerns in emails.


Decision:


16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant’s fitness to return to unrestricted practice and he referred it to the HCPTS Practice Note on Impairment. He advised that its role was not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations or to go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment and it should make its determination based on all the information before it today.


17. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that if it is required to consider a Sanction, it should bear in mind the principles of fairness and proportionality and have regard to the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy. He reminded the Panel that the purpose of sanction was not to be punitive, but to protect the public and the public interest. Any sanction it may impose should be the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public, or was otherwise in the public interest.


Decision on Impairment:


18. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration all the documentation before it, the submissions of Ms Senior and the Registrant.


19. The Panel has little information before it as to the Registrant’s insight or remediation. She has not provided the written reflective piece or evidence of continuing professional development as advised by the last panel and repeated in the recent letter from the HCPC. The Registrant continues to show limited insight and she has taken limited steps to remediate her practice or to keep it up to date. She expressed remorse for her actions and the impact on service users. However, she also made clear that she had no interest in returning to practice and told the Panel that her serious health issues prevented her from doing so. The Panel was not provided with any medical evidence.


20. Accordingly, on the private component of impairment the Panel found, given the continuing lack of both insight and remediation, that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains currently impaired.


21. The Panel determined, given the serious findings of the Substantive hearing, that a finding of impairment is also required in order to uphold proper standards and to maintain confidence in the profession. On both the public and private grounds the Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains currently impaired.


Decision on Sanction:


22. The Panel then went on to consider what action, if any, it should take in light of its finding of current impairment. In doing so, it had regard to the HCPC Sanctions Policy. The Panel first considered whether it would be appropriate to take no further action, and thus allow the current order to lapse at its expiry, or to impose a Caution Order.


23. The Panel decided that in light of the findings of misconduct at the Substantive hearing, it would not be appropriate or proportionate to allow the order to lapse, or to make a Caution Order. To do so would also undermine confidence in the profession and the regulator.


24. The Panel next considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order would be appropriate. The Registrant told the Panel that due to her increasingly serious health conditions she felt unable to return to practise. Further, she told the Panel that she did not want to return to the profession, and did not consider that she could now undertake social work. In these circumstance, the Panel decided that Conditions of Practice would not be realistic, reasonable or workable.


25. The Panel next considered a Suspension Order. It noted that the Registrant has been already been suspended for 12 months. She has not provided the Panel with evidence of developing insight or remediation. However, the Registrant has engaged. She told the Panel that she has increasingly serious health issues.


26. The Panel concluded that the Registrant has shown limited insight and has not remediated her practice. However, it is not clear to the Panel on the basis of the information before it, whether the Registrant is, at this point in time, unwilling and/or unable to resolve matters. This analysis is hampered by the Registrant’s apparent health issues about which the Panel had no medical evidence.


27. The Panel was mindful of the need to balance the interests of the Registrant with the need to protect the public and the public interest, and the central importance of acting proportionately. The Panel was also mindful of the need to impose the least restrictive sanction which was appropriate and protected the public.


28. The Panel considered whether a Striking Off Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction at this time. The finding of misconduct is not of a nature or gravity that Striking Off is the only appropriate sanction, or that no lesser sanction would be sufficient to protect the public and public confidence in the profession. The public remain protected whilst the Registrant is suspended from practice.


29. The Panel was mindful of the need not to impose a disproportionate sanction that would be punitive. After careful consideration and, on balance, the Panel concluded that it would not be fair, proportionate or appropriate to impose a Striking Off Order on the Registrant at this stage. It was mindful that a Suspension Order protects the public meantime.


30. In the circumstances, the Panel decided to impose a further, short period of Suspension for a period of three months. Further, in the particular circumstances of this case, it concluded that a Suspension Order would not undermine public confidence in the profession or in the regulator.


31. The Panel noted that the Registrant expressed an interest in seeking voluntary removal from the Register. It would suggest that the Registrant may wish to explore that possibility. She may also find it helpful to provide relevant medical evidence to a future reviewing panel.

 

Order

That the Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Ms Yvonne Frankum for a further period of 3 months from the date this order comes into effect.

The order imposed today will apply from the expiry of the current order, 27 September 2019.

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry.

Notes

This was a substantive review hearing which took place at the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT on 23 August 2019.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Yvonne Frankum

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
15/11/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
23/08/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
29/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
14/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned part heard