Mr Abraham Kuria

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW104279

Interim Order: Imposed on 24 Jan 2017

Hearing Type: Consent Order Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 11/02/2019 End: 17:00 11/02/2019

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

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Hampshire County

Council, you:

  1. In relation to Service User 1, you did not:
  2. Undertake a complete and/or accurate assessment;
  3. Explore the mobility of Service User 1 and/or refer him to a

Physiotherapist and/or Nursing Staff;

  1. Record whether funding had been agreed for a placement;
  2. In relation to Service User 2, you did not:
  3. Complete an assessment for a Capital Depleater, which had been

allocated to you on 3 December 2015 until 4 January 2016;

  1. Complete an accurate FAB referral which delayed the funding

process in relation to Service User 2.

  1. In relation to Service User 3, you did not:
  2. On 7, 8, 14 and 15 January 2016, complete and/or update the duty

actions.

  1. In relation to Service Users 4 and 5, you did not:
  2. Communicate effectively with the family of Service Users 4 and 5;
  3. Complete a clear care plan;
  4. In relation to Service User 6, you did not:
  5. Undertake an accurate risk assessment; and/or
  6. Act on a safeguarding alert from Rapid Response;
  7. In relation to Service User 7, you did not:
  8. Inform the Agency that double up care was needed until 3 March

2016, despite completing the assessment on 16 February 2016;

  1. In relation to Service User 8, you did not;
  2. Complete an updated and/or accurate assessment on 15 March

2016.

  1. In relation to Service User 9, you did not;
  2. Action a new CA12 and/or send an action to Duty to consider the

case.

  1. In relation to Service User 10, you did not:
  2. Complete an assessment for a Capital Depleater, which had been

allocated to you on 14 December 2015 until 8 January 2016;

  1. Contact Service User 10’s son on 8 January 2016 when you had

said you would;

  1. Undertake an accurate and/or complete assessment;
  2. In relation to Service User 11, following a visit on 29 March 2016, you

did not;

  1. Complete the case notes;
  2. Record an assessment.
  3. The matters described at particulars 1 to 10 constitute misconduct

and/or lack of competence.

  1. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness

to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Application for Partially Private Hearing

1. Ms Senior made an application under Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Practice Committee) (Practice Rules) 2003 for the matters relating to the Registrant’s health to be heard in private. Mr Sangha, on behalf of the Registrant, supported the application.

2. The Panel was satisfied that matters relating to the Registrant’s health issues, are an exception to the ‘open justice’ principle and should not form part of the public record to protect his right to a private life. Therefore, the Panel determined that the health matters should be heard in private and the non-health matters should be heard in public.

Background

3. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker who obtained HCPC registration in April 2015. He was employed by Hampshire County Council (‘the council’), as a newly qualified Social Worker, in the Rushmoor Community Team from 2 November 2015. As part of the Registrant’s role he worked in the Duty Team and which included being responsible for Service Users aged 18 and above with a physical disability. He commenced this role on the Assessed and Supported Year in Practice (‘ASYE’).

4. On 16 May 2016 the council raised concerns with the HCPC following the Registrant’s suspension from work on competency grounds in April 2016. The concerns related to the Registrant’s handling of matters concerning 11 Service Users during his AYSE year whilst subject to performance management procedures and indicated that he was having difficulties performing his role as a registered Social Worker.

5. Specific areas of concern included not completing timely assessments and/or care plans in a timely manner, demonstrating difficulties with communication and safeguarding, failing to complete risk assessments and not following up on actions he had been tasked with completing.

6. On 16 February 2018, a Panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in respect of the following Allegation against the Registrant:

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Hampshire County Council, you:

1. In relation to Service User 1, you did not:
a) Undertake a complete and/or accurate assessment;
b) Explore the mobility of Service User 1 and/or refer him to a Physiotherapist and/or Nursing Staff;

c) Record whether funding had been agreed for a placement;

2. In relation to Service User 2, you did not:
a) Complete an assessment for a Capital Depleater, which had been allocated to you on 3 December 2015 until 4 January 2016;

b) Complete an accurate FAB referral which delayed the funding process in relation to Service User 2.

3. In relation to Service User 3, you did not:
a) On 7, 8, 14 and 15 January 2016, complete and/or update the duty actions.

4. In relation to Service Users 4 and 5, you did not:
a) Communicate effectively with the family of Service Users 4 and 5;
b) Complete a clear care plan;

5. In relation to Service User 6, you did not:
a) Undertake an accurate risk assessment; and/or
b) Act on a safeguarding alert from Rapid Response;

6. In relation to Service User 7, you did not:
a) Inform the Agency that double up care was needed until 3 March 2016, despite completing the assessment on 16 February 2016;
7. In relation to Service User 8, you did not:
a) Complete an updated and/or accurate assessment on 15 March 2016.

8. In relation to Service User 9, you did not:
a) Action a new CA12 and/or send an action to Duty to consider the case.

9. In relation to Service User 10, you did not:
a) Complete an assessment for a Capital Depleater, which had been allocated to you on 14 December 2015 until 8 January 2016;
b) Contact Service User 10’s son on 8 January 2016 when you had said you would;
c) Undertake an accurate and/or complete assessment;

10. In relation to Service User 11, following a visit on 29 March 2016, you did not:
a) Complete the case notes;
b) Record an assessment.

11. The matters described at particulars 1 to 10 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

7. A substantive hearing was listed. The hearing commenced on 1 October 2018. On the second day of the hearing, at the request of the HCPC and the Registrant, the hearing was adjourned.

8. During the period October 2018 to January 2019, disposal by consent was explored between the parties. A formal offer of disposal by way of consent was initially offered to the Registrant on 28 November 2018. The Registrant instructed a representative the following month and a dialogue ensued with the HCPC.

9. On 15 January 2019 the Registrant provided the HCPC with a response to the Allegation in which he admitted that his actions fell short of the standards expected and ‘accepted fault’. The Registrant’s response also confirmed that he admits that his fitness to practice is currently impaired.

10. In addition, the Registrant provided a reflective journal with respect to the particulars in the Allegation as well as copies of certificates for a number of training courses he has undertaken in the field of social work since the initial referral was made.

11. On 22 January 2019 the HCPC wrote to the Registrant’s Representative to confirm that disposal of consent by way of a Conditions of Practice Order had been approved by the Director of Fitness to Practice.

12. The proposed Consent Order setting out the conditions was signed by the Registrant on 21 January 2019.


HCPC Submissions

13. Ms Senior, on behalf of the HCPC, invited the Panel to endorse the Consent Order, as currently drafted, or propose suggested amendments, which would need to be agreed by the parties and approved by the Director of Fitness to Practice.

14. Ms Senior submitted that the HCPC was satisfied that the Allegation had been admitted by the Registrant and that he accepts that his fitness to practise is currently impaired. She referred the Panel to the Registrant’s statement, received by the HCPC on 15 January 2019, in which he stated that his assessments ‘were not suitable and did not meet the requisite standard’ and that his communication was unacceptable. Ms Senior also drew the Panel’s attention to the Registrant’s, reflective journal, and his signed agreement to the Consent Order.

15. The HCPC submitted that the Conditions as drafted in the signed Consent Order, which mandate that the Registrant attends monthly supervision and creates a Personal Development Plan to address his deficiencies, are sufficient to protect the public and wider public interest in this case. The HCPC also submitted that a Strike Off Order and a Suspension Order would be disproportionate given that the concerns arose during the early stages of his social work career.


Registrant’s Submissions

16. Mr Sangha submitted that the Registrant is aware that there are areas of his practice which require improvement and that he has made a concerted effort to address these deficiencies. 

17. In response to questions from the Panel, Mr Sangha made a telephone enquiry and was able to obtain further information from a manager at the Registrant’s current place of employment. Mr Sangha informed the Panel that TS – Registered Manager at Apex Prime Care confirmed that the Registrant is employed as a support worker. He stated that TS regarded the Registrant to be a ‘very good employee’. She informed Mr Sangha that the Registrant had been employed in his current role for 12 months and during that period had not taken any extended sick leave. She stated that as part of his role, the Registrant was required to complete reports, comply with record keeping obligations and report on safeguarding issues. In addition, the Panel had made enquires with regards to a report from the Registrant’s GP. Mr Sangha confirmed that such a report would take approximately 2 weeks.

18. Mr Sangha invited the Panel to approve the Consent Order.


Panel’s Approach

19. Prior to reaching a decision on the proposed Consent Order, the Panel carefully considered all of the information and evidence within the hearing bundle, including the Allegation, the Registrant’s written representations, his reflective journal and the terms of the Order itself. The Panel was also provided with a reference from the Registrant’s employer which was not within the original hearing bundle. The reference was undated but Ms Senior confirmed that it had been received by the HCPC in April 2018.

20. The Panel took into account the guidance contained within the HCPC Practice Note:  Disposal of Cases By Consent which states that a panel should not agree to resolve a case in this way unless it is satisfied of two things: firstly, that the appropriate level of public protection is being secured and, secondly, that doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.

21. The Practice Note also states that:
“…any remedial action proposed by the registrant and to be embodied in the Consent Order is consistent with the expected outcome if the case was to proceed to a contested hearing.”

22. In assessing the appropriateness of the proposed Consent Order, the Panel carefully considered the balance between its duty to protect the public and the interests of the Registrant. The Panel also had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and took into account paragraph 31 which states:

‘Before imposing conditions a panel should be satisfied that:
• the issues which the conditions seek to address are capable of correction;
• there is no persistent or general failure which would prevent the registrant from doing so;
• appropriate, realistic and verifiable conditions can be formulated;
• the registrant can be expected to comply with them; and
• a reviewing panel will be able to determine whether those conditions have or are being met.’

23. The Panel noted that, if it was content to do so, it could conclude the case on an expedited basis, based on the terms of the draft Consent Order. Alternatively, the Panel could reject the proposal and set the case down for a full substantive hearing.


Decision

24. The Panel noted that the Allegation has been admitted in full and concluded that based on the documentary evidence the particulars of the Allegation were capable of being found proved on the balance of probabilities.

25. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had demonstrated an appropriate level of insight by recognising the serious nature of the Allegation. In particular, the Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
• the Registrant had made substantial admissions at an early stage;
• he expressed genuine remorse for his conduct;
• he has learning difficulties and had health problems at the time;
• he was in the early stages of a social work career.

26. The Panel balanced the mitigating factors against the aggravating factors. The aggravating factors include the fact that vulnerable service users were exposed to an unwarranted risk of harm and the concerns raised are fundamental to the role of a Social Worker. 

27. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that approval of the proposed Consent Order, subject to some variation, was both proportionate and appropriate. In reaching the conclusion that the case should be disposed of by way of a Consent Order the Panel noted that the Registrant was an inexperienced Social Worker and the deficiencies in his practice are capable of remediation. The Panel noted that the Registrant had taken steps to address the shortcomings in his practise by undertaking additional training and had expressed a willingness to continue his learning and development. Furthermore, the Registrant’s history of positive engagement with his previous employer’s Performance Improvement Plan and these regulatory proceedings strongly demonstrates a commitment to returning to unrestricted practice. The Panel concluded that the Registrant could be trusted to make a determined effort to comply with a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel also took the view that the proposed conditions, subject to some variation, are appropriate and realistic and would be capable of being verified by a reviewing panel.

28. The Panel also determined that there is a legitimate public interest in avoiding a substantive hearing, in circumstances where full admissions have been made to an Allegation and where the Registrant has consented to being made subject to an appropriate 18-month Conditions of Practice Order. 

29. The Panel took the view that the following amendments to the Conditions of Practice Order should be considered:
• Insertion of the word ‘satisfactorily’ in Condition 1.
• Removal of the word ‘clinical’ in Condition 2.
• Insertion of a new Condition 6 requiring the Registrant to produce a report from his supervisor.
• Insertion of a new Condition 7 requiring the Registrant to produce a reflective practice profile/diary.
• Deletion of the old Condition 9.

30. The Panel concluded that the minor changes to the proposed amendments to the Consent Order would provide helpful clarification and avoid ambiguity. The Panel took the view that the more substantive changes would reflect the fact that the Registrant has already provided a reflective piece. The Panel concluded that it would be more useful to the Registrant and a future reviewing panel for him to reflect on his ability to undertake assessments, including risk assessments, within a social work setting. The Panel noted that assessments by their very nature include the ability to communicate effectively. In addition, the Panel took the view that a report from the Registrant’s supervisor would inform a future reviewing panel of any progress that had been made.

31. As the concerns relate to a number of competency issues which took place in the early stages of the Registrant’s career, the HCPC concluded that a Striking Off Order, which is a sanction of ‘last resort’ would be disproportionate and unlikely to be imposed at a substantive hearing.  Similarly, the Panel took the view that a Suspension Order is not the only means to protect the public as it has been possible to formulate appropriate conditions to specifically support and address the deficiencies in the Registrant’s practice. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that the proposed Conditions of Practice are proportionate and will ensure that the public is adequately protected whilst enabling the Registrant an opportunity to rectify his failings in a safe environment.

32. The parties agreed the proposed amendments to the Conditions of Practice order and on that basis the Panel approved the amended Consent Order.

Order

Order:  That the Registrar be directed to annotate the Register to show that for a period of 18 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (the Operative Date), you, Abraham Kuria, must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. Before commencing any role as a Social Worker, you must complete 30 days of return to practise updating training. You must provide the HCPC with evidence that this training has been satisfactorily completed before commencing work in any Social Work role.

2. If you work 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 7 days of commencing work.

3. You must formulate a Personal Development Plan, which is signed off by your workplace supervisor, designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practice:

(i) Undertaking/ completing accurate assessments, including risk assessments, with service users;
(ii) Knowledge and skill in adequate safeguarding practises;
(iii) Making appropriate referrals to other professionals;
(iv) Time management;
(v) Record keeping.

4. Within three months of the Operative Date, you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.

5. You must meet with your supervisor on at least a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
 
6.  You must send to the HCPC at least one month before your review hearing information from your supervisor about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

7.  You must maintain a reflective practice profile / diary detailing every occasion when you complete assessments and must provide a copy of that profile / diary to the HCPC on a six monthly basis, or confirm that there has been no such occasions in that period. The first profile / diary, or confirmation is to be provided within six months of the Operative Date.

8. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your current employer or take up any other or further employment.

9. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any capability or disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.

10. 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 professional work;

B. any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and
 
C. any prospective employer (at the time of your application).

Notes

The Order imposed today will apply from the operative date and will be reviewed shortly before expiry.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Abraham Kuria

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
11/02/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Consent Order Hearing Conditions of Practice
01/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned