Miss Catherine Margaret Sigley

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW20950

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 14/02/2019 End: 12:30 14/02/2019

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

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 23 - 26 February 2015:

 

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Stoke-on-Trent

City Council, between March 2012 and March 2013, you: 

  1. Did not meet the following deadlines set by the Court: 

a) statements in relation to case A, filed over 3 months after the original

deadline set by the Court; 

b) statements in relation to case B, filed around 1 month after the

deadline set by the Court in August 2012; 

c) statements in relation to case C, filed over 1 month after the deadline

set by the Court in November 2012. 

  1. Did not conduct and/or record numerous statutory visits between May

2012 and March 2013. 

  1. Did not complete Personal Education Plans within the required timescales

in that Personal Education Plans or reviews were outstanding and/or not

recorded for the following service users: 

a) D 

b) E 

c) F 

d) G 

e) H 

f) I

  1. Did not keep accurate records in respect of the following cases: 

a) in case A, you did not record anything on the CareFirst case file for

the period of time you were allocated the case file; 

b) Not Proved 

c) Not Proved 

d) Not Proved 

e) in case L, you did not close the case on the CareFirst System within

a reasonable timeframe. 

  1. Provided misleading and inaccurate information and/or did not provide

relevant information to the Court in relation to case A as you:

a) did not ensure the Court was informed that the Fostering Assessment

for the proposed carer for A had been put on hold; 

b) Not Proved 

  1. Provided misleading and inaccurate information to line managers and

colleagues as you: 

a) did not inform your line managers and colleagues that you were

behind with work in the cases of A and C; 

b) allowed your line managers and colleagues to believe that you had

almost completed your work in the cases of A and C. 

  1. Your actions at paragraphs 5 and 6 were dishonest

The Panel of substantive hearing found particulars 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), 2, 3, 4(a), 4(e), 5(a), 6 and 7 proved. The Panel concluded that of the proven particulars, 1 - 4 amounted to lack of competence and particulars 5, 6 and 7 amounted to misconduct. The Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired and imposed a suspension order for a period of 12 months as a sanction.

The Suspension Order was reviewed on 18 February 2016. The reviewing panel replaced the suspension with an 18 month conditions of practice order

Finding

Preliminary matters

Application to proceed in private
1.     An unopposed application for the entire hearing to be heard in private was made by Ms Iskander on the grounds that references to the Registrant’s health were inextricably linked to the matters to be raised during the course of this hearing. The Panel granted this application, in accordance with the provisions of Rule 10(1)(a) of the 2003 Rules.
 
Background
2. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker by Stoke-on-Trent City Council from June 2006 until her resignation in November 2013. In 2008 she joined the Children in Care (CIC) Team. Concerns were raised about her practice in or around 2012. On 19 March 2013 she was suspended pending an investigation by her Principal Manager. In July 2013, following a disciplinary hearing, during the course of which the Registrant made a number of admissions to alleged failures, she was dismissed for gross misconduct on grounds that included her having knowingly misled her colleagues and advocates in court proceedings. On appeal it was found that there was no deliberate falsehood and that the delays were contributed to by personal circumstances and a lack of support from management. She was reinstated with a final written warning but subsequently resigned. The case was referred to the HCPC.
 

3. The Panel at the final hearing found most of the facts proved. It found the Registrant’s actions were dishonest and that the facts found proved amounted to misconduct and lack of competence. As a result, the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired. That Panel determined that the Registrant’s failings were “persistent, repeated and occurred over an extensive period of time” involving a significant number of service users and a range of tasks that were basic and fundamental for any social worker.

 
4. The final hearing panel heard evidence of the Registrant’s health and its effect upon her practise at the time of the allegations.
 

5. The Panel at the 2015 final hearing determined that a Suspension Order of 12 months was the appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose.  On 18 February 2016, a reviewing panel determined to replace the Suspension Order with a Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 18 months, having found that the fitness to practise of the Registrant remained impaired on the sole ground of her lack of competence.
 

6. At the second review on the 24 August 2017, after a finding that the Registrant’s fitness to practise still remained impaired on the ground of her lack of competence, a Conditions of Practice Order was extended for another 18 months. The recommendation by that panel was made to the effect that any reviewing panel might be assisted by the production of an up to date health report, information about Continued Professional Development (CPD) and other relevant material.
 
Decision     
7.     Ms Iskander told the Panel that the HCPC was encouraged by the contents of the bundle submitted by the Registrant for today’s hearing, pursuant to the recommendations of the reviewing panel which met in August 2017. She stressed to the Panel that the Registrant has not practised as a Social Worker for a number of years and referred the Panel to the Registrant’s acceptance that she is not yet ready to return to unrestricted practice. She submitted, therefore, that the fitness to practise of the Registrant was still impaired.
 
8. As far as sanction was concerned, Ms Iskander submitted that the appropriate and proportionate course to adopt would be for the Panel to confirm the Conditions of Practice Order and extend it for a further 12 months. This, she said, would afford the Registrant one more opportunity to demonstrate that she is capable of full remediation and able in due course to return to unrestricted social work.
 

9. The Registrant told the Panel that she was in agreement with the course suggested by Ms Iskander. She provided a three page personal statement, up to date information about her state of health and a testimonial from the Rossendale Trust, by which she had been employed since January 2015 as a Waking Nights Care Support Worker. This work was for four nights a week and involved the supporting of adults with learning and physical disabilities.
 

10. The Registrant told the Panel that she wanted to return to full time social work in the field of Adult Services, but recognised that she would need help to return to unrestricted practice, not least because she has been away from social work for such a long time. She apologised to the Panel for the failings identified at her final hearing and said that she was trying very hard to rectify her health. She added that she had a good rapport with her manager at the Rossendale Trust with whom she was able to be open and honest.
 

11. The Panel took full account of the contents of the bundles and paid due regard to the submissions from both sides. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and reminded itself of the contents of the HCPTS Practice Note ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’. It is plain to the Panel that the Registrant is engaging fully with this process although she has not had an opportunity to fully remediate her lack of competence. The Panel accepted that the Registrant has done all she can to improve her state of health, into which she now has full insight. The Panel’s view, which is accepted by the Registrant herself, is that her fitness to practise remains impaired due to her lack of competence.
 
12. The Panel considered, what if any, sanction to impose and referred to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanction Policy. In its judgment, the appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose is a continuation for a further 12 months of the Conditions of Practice Order, with amendments. The Panel considered that the conditions as set out below, are proportionate, workable and would serve to protect the public and the public interest.
 

13. The Panel was impressed by the contents of the documents provided by the Registrant and by what the Registrant herself said in amplification of them. The Panel considered that the Registrant now has full insight into her health issues and it took particular note of the comment by the Registrant’s General Practitioner in his report dated 8 January 2019.
 

14. In view of the above, the Panel considers it is not necessary now for the Registrant to be subject to conditions 1 – 4 of the Original order. Therefore the conditions of practice are as follows:

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Miss Catherine Margaret Sigley, when engaged in a social work role must comply with the following Conditions of Practice:

1. You must promptly inform HCPC if you take up employment as a Social Worker.
 

2. You must promptly inform HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you in your role as a Social Worker by your employer.
 

3. When employed as a Social Worker, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 6 weeks of the operative date when such person becomes your supervisor. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.
 

4. When employed as a Social Worker, you must meet with your supervisor and formulate
a) A Continuing Professional Development Plan (CPDP) designed to address the shortcomings in your practice.
b) You must successfully complete courses, within the context of social work, on time management, record keeping, and confident and assertive communication.

 

5. Within 3 months of obtaining work as a Social Worker you must forward a copy of your CPDP to the HCPC.
 

6. When engaged as a Social Worker you must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your CPDP.
 

7. If engaged as a Social Worker, you must provide a report from your supervisor about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your CPDP not later than 28 days and not earlier than 56 days before this order is reviewed. This should include testimonials where possible.

 
8. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
a) any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake social work
b) any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with as a Social Worker (at the time of application)
c) any prospective employer seeking to employ you as a Social Worker (at the time of application)

 

9.You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions

Notes

The Order imposed today will apply with immediate effect.
This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 14 February 2020.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Catherine Margaret Sigley

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
14/02/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
24/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
18/02/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
23/02/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended