Ms Nilima Thawait

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW84099

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 10/06/2019 End: 17:00 14/06/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Wolverhampton City Council between January 2012 and March 2016, you:

1. Informed Service User A's prospective adopter that the case was listed for final hearing on 03 October 2014, when this was not the case.

2. Completed an inadequate core assessment dated 22 August 2014 in relation to Service User A, in that it:

a. contained spelling and/or grammar errors;

b. lacked sufficient detail in that it did not include reference to:

i) the Service User's social skills;

ii) the Service User's story and/or their journey through social services;

iii) contact details for the relevant parties

3. Completed an inadequate and/or inappropriate Core Assessment in relation to Service User B on or around 2 May 2013 in that it:

a. was not completed in a timely manner;

b. contained content copied from a previous core assessment;

c. contained spelling and/or grammar errors;

d. was not apparent that the content of the core assessment was not your own work.

4. Without authorisation, asked a Social Worker who was not involved in Service User B's case at the time to complete the first draft of the core assessment.

5. Completed an untimely and/or inadequate statement in relation to Service User A dated 25 June 2014 in that:

a. it was not drafted using the correct format;

b. it contained spelling and/or grammar errors;

c. some of the content did not make sense;

d. you referred to the wrong date of birth for the Service User;

6. Completed a statement in relation to Service User B dated 16 July 2014 that contained incorrect information;

7. Completed an inadequate Social Work Report in relation to Service User B dated 1 September 2014, in that it:

a. was not up to date;

b. lacked sufficient analysis of the Service User's case;

8. Completed an inaccurate and/or inadequate Social Work report regarding Service User C in that it:

a. contained contradictory information as to when the Service User was placed with the foster carer;

b. lacked sufficient detail in respect of when the care order was made and/or whether the Service User's placement was progressing well;

9. Completed an inadequate Core Assessment in relation to Service User D dated 1 July 2014, in that it lacked sufficient detail in respect of:

a. why the Service User did not want contact with family members;

b. the other services involved in the Service User's case;

c. whether the Service User's placement was progressing well;

10.Completed an inadequate Social Work report regarding Service User E dated September 2014 in that it:

a. lacked sufficient detail in respect of the historical issues in the Service User's case and/or the care the Service User was receiving;

b. contained incorrect spellings of the names of the Service User's siblings;

c. lacked sufficient detail of whether the Service User's placement was progressing well;

11.Completed an inadequate Social Work report regarding Service User F dated September 2014 in that it:

a. contained grammar and/or spelling errors

b. lacked sufficient detail of the Service User's circumstances and/or whether the views of the Service User's parents had been sought;

c. referred to the Service User using the wrong gender and/or contained content copied from the records of the Service User's sibling;

12. Completed an inadequate and/or inaccurate Later life letter in relation to Service User G in that it:

a. referred to the incorrect date of birth for the Service User;

b. contained spelling and/or grammar errors;

13.Completed an inadequate and/or inaccurate Social Work report regarding Service User G dated 19 September 2014 in that it:

a. contained grammar and/or spelling errors;

b. lacked sufficient analysis of the Service User's recent issues including contact and/or forward planning for the Service User's case;

14.Completed an inadequate Social Work report in relation to Service User H dated 11 September 2014, in that it:

a. lacked sufficient detail of the Service User's background and/or present circumstances;

b. contained spelling and grammar errors;

c. contained content which did not make sense;

15. Did not identify the risk issues and/or make a Multi-Agency Sexual Exploitation (MASE) referral in relation to Service User I;

16. Completed an inadequate Special Guardianship Report in relation to Service User J dated 15 June 2014, in that it:

a. contained spelling and grammar errors;

b. lacked sufficient detail including:

i) detail of the Service User's carer;

ii) how long the Service User had been in care; and/or

iii) reference to the incidents of sexualised behaviour;

c. included information in the wrong sections of the report;

17. Completed an inadequate draft first statement in relation to Service User L in that it:

a. contained spelling and/or grammar errors;

b. was not drafted using the correct format;

c. contained content which did not make sense;

d. did not include any, or any adequate analysis of the Service User's relationship with their grandmother;

e. did not clarify why contact between the Service User and their siblings should be reduced to monthly;

f. did not clarify why the Service User did not attend contact with their siblings arranged for Saturdays.

18. Completed an inaccurate and/or inadequate draft second statement in relation to Service User L in that it:

a. contained spelling and grammar errors;

b. contained content which did not make sense;

c. stated that the Service User wished to continue contact with their grandmother, when there had been no contact previously.

19. Completed an inaccurate and/or inadequate Social Work Report in relation to Service User L dated 8 October 2015, in that it:

a. contained content which was copied from the records of their sibling;

b. did not include any, or any adequate, analysis of permanency in the Service User's placement

20. Completed an inaccurate and/or inadequate section 47 report in relation to Service User Q, in that it:

a. contained a Manager's Comment copied from another document in relation to the Service User in the recommendations section;

b. did not include any, or any adequate, analysis of the concerns in the Service User's case

21. Completed an untimely and/or inadequate Later Life Letter in relation to Service User R, in that:

a. it contained spelling and grammar errors;

b. the Service User's name was spelt incorrectly;

c. some of the content was not appropriate for the Service User;

d. it did not contain key information including, the meeting between the adoptive mother and birth mother and/or information regarding the Service user's siblings;

22. Did not complete the Later Life Letter in relation to Service User T in a timely manner;

23. Did not conduct and/or record statutory visits to Service User B in or around:

a. 11 December 2012 to 3 April 2013; and/or

b. 14 May 2013 to 3 September 2013.

24. The matters at 3b and/or 3d were misleading and/or dishonest

25. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 23 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

26. The matters set out in paragraph 24 constitute misconduct.

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

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service of Notice

1. The Panel found that there had been good service of the Notice of Hearing by a letter dated 25 April 2019 which informed the Registrant of the date, time and venue of the Hearing.

Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant

2. Mr Ferson made an application for the Hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He referred the Panel to a chronology recording contact between the HCPC, and Kingsley Napley on behalf of the HCPC with the Registrant and her representative. An important communication within this chronology was an e-mail dated 8 March 2019 from the Registrant’s Unison representative. This provided the Registrant’s formal response to the Allegation. The e-mail continued as follows:

“Furthermore she has now formally retired from Social Work and does not intend to maintain her registration once this matter is resolved. Accordingly she does not intend to take any further part in these proceedings.

Given this response I must also inform you that Unison now withdraws from the representation of Mrs Thawait and I would be most grateful if you would remove my name and that of Unison from the record as representatives in this matter”.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel noted the Registrant’s position as set out by her representative and decided that her absence is deliberate and voluntary. She has not applied for an adjournment and the Panel considered that an adjournment would not be likely to secure her attendance. The Panel would have the opportunity to ask questions and examine the evidence and that would reduce any prejudice to the Registrant. In the circumstances, the Panel decided that the public interest in the expeditious disposal of the case outweighed the Registrant’s interests and that it was appropriate to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Hearing in Private

5. Mr Ferson made an application for part of the Hearing to be heard in private to protect the private life of the Registrant and the private life of an HCPC witness, ME.  [REDACTED]

6. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Conducting Hearings in Private”. The Panel decided that it was appropriate to hear part of the Hearing in private to protect the private life of the Registrant and the witness, ME.


Background

7. The Registrant qualified as a Social Worker in 1993 and joined Wolverhampton City Council (“the Council”) Looked After Child (LAC) Team in 2000.

8. Concerns relating to the Registrant’s practice were raised on a number of occasions during her employment in the LAC Team. The concerns related to the quality and content of documents drafted by the Registrant, including the lack of information they contained, factual errors, mistakes in grammar and the timeliness of her recording. Those concerns were raised by foster carers, legal representatives, legal advisors and the Registrant’s managers.

9. A number of these concerns were escalated to ME, the LAC Team Manager, in July 2014. Following this, the Registrant’s work was reviewed. This review revealed that a number of assessments and assessments that the Registrant had completed had required amendments for similar reasons, including; content, grammar, spelling, and an identified lack of analysis.

10. Additionally, the completion of a number of important documents relating to service users was delayed by a number of months due to the substantial amendments that were required to the Registrant’s work.

11. The Registrant was placed on an informal performance improvement plan in August 2014. CI, a Social Work Unit Manager, was appointed as the Registrant’s manager. Frequent supervisory review meetings took place and in October 2014 a decision was taken to escalate the matter to the formal capability process.

12. Following the conclusion of stage one of the capability process, the Registrant submitted a formal grievance against ME. The Registrant returned to work on a phased return to work after a period of ill health in May 2015. At this time the grievance procedure had not been concluded and for this reason the Registrant was temporarily transferred to the Transitions Team under the management of LW.

13. In October 2015 the Registrant returned to her substantive post on the conclusion of the grievance procedure and stage two of the capability process commenced. The Registrant worked under a performance plan and attended the supervisory review meetings. The formal capability process progressed up to stage three which commenced in December 2015. ME prepared an assessment for stage three setting out the issues and examples of the Registrant’s work which had caused concern.


Decision on Facts

14. The Panel heard evidence from ME, CI and LW and found them to be credible and compelling witnesses. Their approach was professional and dedicated, with a clear focus on the responsibility of the Council towards all service users, including the looked after children and their carers.

15. The Panel was particularly impressed by the clarity of the evidence given by the witnesses about the need for accuracy and sensitivity in the written documents relating to looked after children. For example, ME explained the potential impact of the written records for the children and their carers at the time of the events and also for the children in their later life. She explained the need for the assessments to be written accurately and with sufficient detail and analysis to ensure the best outcome for the child. The assessments may also be read by the child and it is important that the child understands their situation and the steps that were taken by the Council during the child’s time in care. This is essential so that the child has clarity and is able to move forward in their life.

16. The Panel found that the witnesses were open in acknowledging that there were shortcomings in the approach taken by the Registrant’s managers prior to June 2014. The concerns about the Registrant’s performance had been raised by previous managers, but had not been consistently or clearly addressed.

17. The Panel was also impressed by the efforts made by the witnesses to ensure a structured and supportive approach to try to raise the standard of the Registrant’s work to an acceptable level. The Panel’s overall assessment was that the approach taken by the witnesses in their supervision and management of the Registrant was confident and measured. All three witnesses had compassion for the Registrant. The Panel did not find that they were uncaring as alleged by the Registrant.

18. The Panel noted the Registrant’s formal written response to the Allegation as follows:

[REDACTED]

 Given the length of time that has passed since these allegations were first set out, and the personal circumstances of Mrs Thawait at the relevant time, she has no meaningful recollection of the individual matters that form the HCPC case. Consequently she is unable to offer any meaningful response to the HCPC about these allegations. She will not, therefore be making any other formal response to any of the allegations”.

Particular 1

19. The evidence to support this particular is hearsay evidence. The Panel noted the advice of the Legal Assessor and carefully considered the admissibility and the weight of the hearsay evidence. The Panel noted that the HCPC were unable to give an explanation for not calling the carer of SUA to give evidence to the Panel. The Panel nevertheless decided to admit the evidence and to give it weight because:

(a) it came from multiple sources and was consistent;

(b) there was no reason for the individuals involved to lie about the matter;

(c) there was near contemporaneous documentary support;

(d) at the time of the events the Registrant gave a simple denial (as recorded in the supervision session on 25 September 2014) but she did not at the time or subsequently provide an alternative account.

20. In the Panel’s assessment the hearsay evidence was reliable and persuasive. ME spoke directly to the carer of SUA who was disappointed because she had been informed by the Registrant that the final Hearing for the carer to adopt SUA would be held on 3 October 2014. There was due to be a Hearing on 3 October 2014, but this was a case management Hearing, not a final Hearing. ME persuasively described to the Panel that the carer was distraught, particularly because she had informed SUA, a young child, about the Hearing. ME also explained that the carer was very experienced and understood the different types of court Hearing. There had never been any issues with the accuracy of the information the carer had provided.

21. ME’s evidence was supported by the hearsay evidence of CI, who received the same information from the Council’s legal team.

22. ME’s evidence was also supported by documentary evidence. In particular the Panel noted correspondence from SUA’s guardian’s solicitor stating:

 “the carer expressed some alarm as I mentioned during the conversation that the case is not listed for final Hearing on 3 October. She had been told that it would conclude on 3rd …I understand that the new Social Worker is going out to see the carer on Friday so I thought she needed to be alerted to the carer’s concerns as she did seem to be very worried…”

23. This e-mail was forwarded to the Registrant by a solicitor for the Council who advised the Registrant that she “should not have told the foster carer as you were in court on the last occasion and were aware it was a Case Management Hearing and not a Final Hearing booked for 3 October 2014”. The e-mail was directed to the Registrant, but she did not reply. If the information in the e-mail was incorrect the Panel would have expected her to do so.

24. The Panel found particular 1 proved by the hearsay evidence of ME, CI and the documentary evidence.

Particular 2

25. The Panel found particular 2(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence.

26. A core assessment is an in-depth assessment completed by the allocated social worker. Its purpose is to review the needs of the service user and their family. It should include factual description of the circumstances of the child and the social worker’s analysis of the facts. A core assessment will identify the proposed long-term plan for the child.

27. The Registrant prepared a draft core assessment for SUA dated 22 August 2014. The Panel reviewed the draft and noted the annotations on the assessment made by a manager. The annotations identified spelling and grammatical errors.

28. The Panel found particulars 2(b)(i), 2(b)(ii), and 2(b)(iii) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The Panel reviewed the draft core assessment prepared by the Registrant and noted her manager’s annotations which identified the lack of detail with regard to the service user’s social skills. For example, the manager identified that the assessment did not describe whether SUA was able to dress himself or feed himself.

29. The draft core assessment also included the annotation “life journey work?”. The purpose of life journey work is to record the child’s journey through the care system and individual story. Its purpose is to provide the child with an understanding of what has happened throughout their life, with a focus on the input of social services. The core assessment did not explain SUA’s journey with Children’s Services.

30. The draft core assessment did not include contact details for the relevant parties. For example, ME explained that the contact details for SUA’s birth parents were not included.

31. The draft core assessment was inadequate because of the errors and the lack of detail. Social workers are expected to proof read their assessments and to include sufficient detail in the core assessment. The lack of quality in the written assessment contributed to delay in finalising and progressing the plan for the service user and raised doubts as to whether confidence could be placed in the work carried out by the Registrant for SUA.

Particular 3

32. The Panel found particular 3(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The delays in the completion of the core assessment for SUB were set out in detail in a written statement from EB, an Assistant Director dated September 2014. This statement was prepared for the Court as a result of an order made by the Judge at a Case Management Hearing. EB was asked to explain why there was a delay of seven months before the completion of the core assessment for SUB. She explained that in her opinion the delay was due to the assessment presented by the Registrant “requiring substantial amendments due to insufficient content, analysis and grammatical errors”.

33. ME explained in her evidence that it took ten months for the Registrant to commence the core assessment after the case of SUB was allocated to her. The core assessment was started on 10 April 2013 and it was not authorised until 9 September 2013. The total length of time was therefore sixteen months.

34. The maximum time for completion of a core assessment is forty five days, and social workers are expected to complete the assessment within forty days to allow time for verification and approval. The Registrant was aware of this requirement through her training and her experience in the LAC team.

35. The Registrant and her then manager had the joint responsibility to ensure that the core assessment was completed in a timely manner. However, while the Registrant’s manager should have overseen this task, she remained responsible for the timely completion of the assessment.

36. The core assessment was not completed in a timely manner and was inadequate for that reason. There was a delay in the progression of the care plan for SUB and his permanent placement.

37. The Panel found particular 3(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. When ME reviewed the core assessment she identified that the Registrant had provided incorrect dates to the court. On the Council’s recording system she found an abandoned core assessment for SUB which had been completed by another social worker (SW1). ME compared the abandoned core assessment completed by SW1 with the Registrant’s core assessment and noted that the text of SW1’s earlier assessment had been copied by the Registrant.

38. ME spoke to the Registrant who initially denied, but subsequently admitted when confronted with evidence, that she had asked SW1 to complete the core assessment on her behalf. The Registrant said that she believed that this was acceptable because SW1 had had previous involvement with the family. SW1’s contact with the family was between November 2009 and February 2010. The Registrant was unable to recognise the implications or significance of her actions.

39. The core assessment completed by SW1 was not available for the Panel. Nevertheless, the Panel accepted ME’s evidence that the Registrant had copied sections from SW1’s assessment and that she admitted that she had done this when ME raised the matter with her.

40. The Panel found particular 3(c) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The Panel reviewed the core assessment and noted that it included spelling and grammatical errors. In this respect the assessment was inadequate and the Registrant had responsibility for its quality.

41. The Panel found particular 3(d) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. There was nothing in the core assessment which indicated that it was the work of SW1. ME only identified SW1’s involvement through her investigation.

42. The core assessment was inadequate and inappropriate because it was not the Registrant’s work. There was the potential for the information in the assessment to be wrong or out of date because it was not provided by the Registrant who had the up to date knowledge of the family. The assessment included the incorrect date of adoption and date of birth for SUB. If incorrect information and evidence was included in the assessment there was the potential for the wrong decision to be made for SUB’s future care.

Particular 4

43. The Panel found particular 4 proved by the evidence of ME. ME confirmed in her oral evidence that the Registrant asked SW1 to complete a draft of the core assessment for SUB. ME spoke to SW1 who confirmed this. ME also confirmed that SW1’s line manager addressed the concern that there had been a data protection breach. The Registrant did not speak to anyone to obtain authorisation to involve SW1 and such authorisation would not have been given because SW1’s involvement with SUB was historical.

Particular 5

44. On 25 June 2014 the Registrant submitted a witness statement to support the Council’s application to the Court for an adoption placement order for SUA.

45. The Panel found particular 5(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. ME explained that the Council’s legal services had provided the correct format for the statement to the Registrant who had previously used the correct format. The correct format provides the right structure for the statement and allows the Court to focus on important factual areas that affect the child. These areas are highlighted under specific headings. The statement was not drafted using the correct format and therefore was inadequate.

46. The Panel found particular 5(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The statement prepared by the Registrant included numerous spelling and grammatical errors, as highlighted by the annotations made by a manager.

47. The Panel found particular 5(c) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The annotations on the statement included on two occasions the comment “this doesn’t make sense”. Having reviewed the document, the Panel found that there was a lack of sense in the two sentences identified.

48. The Panel found particular 5(d) proved by the evidence of ME. Although the statement is redacted, the Panel accepted the evidence of ME that the Registrant stated the wrong date of birth for SUA.

49. The errors in the assessment 5(b), 5(c) and 5(d) led to delays. The statement was returned to the Registrant for amendments on two occasions and due to the errors in the statement Legal Services were not able to file an application for a placement order until approximately 22 July 2014. The amendments took approximately four weeks to complete and this delayed the adoption of SUA, causing unnecessary anxiety and upset to SUA and his carer. The statement was therefore not completed in a timely manner.

50. The statement was inadequate because of its poor quality. ME explained in her evidence that the poor quality of the Registrant’s written documentation had wider implications because it added to the workload of the reviewing manager and it raised doubts as to the quality of her work with service users and her recommendations.

Particular 6

51. On 16 July 2014 the Registrant completed a witness statement to support the application for a placement order to finalise the adoption for SUB.

52. The Panel found particular 6 proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The statement recorded that a planning meeting took place on 10 September 2012 and the outcome was a plan of adoption. This information was incorrect. In September 2012 SUB was living with his mother and was not accommodated by the The Council until 6 December 2012.
 
Particular 7

53. The Registrant completed a social work assessment for SUB on 1 September 2014. In 2014 the title “social work assessment” replaced what had previously been called “core assessment.” The assessment should be completed or updated when there is a change in circumstances, or as a minimum every six months. The purpose of the assessment is to present an overview for the LAC review.

54. The Panel found particular 7(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The assessment did not represent the most up to date position for SUB at the time it was written. For example, the age of the child was incorrect. He was four years and six months at the time the assessment was written whereas the Registrant recorded that he was three years and nine months. ME explained in her evidence that the assessment included historical information, whereas the information that was needed in the assessment was information about the current placement, the stability of the placement, and the progression of SUB. She explained that this information was needed to provide the context for assessing SUB’s needs at that time and the appropriateness of the placement.

55. The Panel found particular 7(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The assessment was not analytical in explaining the decision to progress the matter to adoption. ME explained that the assessment did not provide clear information about the journey of the child or the decision making. There should have been clear reasons for why a care plan was necessary for the child.

56. The assessment was not adequate because it was not up to date and lacked sufficient analysis. ME explained the potential consequences of these issues. The assessment was confusing for the reader and did not give the reader, which may have included the court or the Independent Reviewing Officer (“IRO” the chair of the LAC review), sufficient confidence that the needs of SUB were being met.

Particular 8

57. The Registrant prepared a social work assessment dated 27 September 2013 for SUC for the purpose of a LAC Review.

58. The Panel found particular 8(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. On the first page of the assessment the Registrant stated that SUC was placed with the foster carer on 27 October 2010, whereas in the section “Family environmental factors” she recorded that SUC was placed with the foster carer on 7 November 2006.

59. The Panel found particular 8(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The assessment lacked sufficient detail. For example, the Registrant did not include the year in which the care order was made and she has not included information about the current placement, whether the plan is meeting the needs of the child, or whether further support is required. No information is recorded under the heading “whether the placement meets the child’s needs.”

Particular 9

60. The Registrant completed a social work assessment in relation to SUD on 1 July 2014.

61. The Panel found particular 9(a) not proved. The evidence before the Panel from ME was that the assessment did not document the reasons why SUD did not want contact with his mother, one member of the family, whereas particular 9(a) refers to family members in the plural.

62. The Panel found particular 9(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The Registrant did not specify other services involved with the family. In her oral evidence ME explained that Care First (the Council’s recording system) would prompt the social worker to include information about other services such as the involvement of mental health services or other paid-for services.

63. The Panel found particular 9(c) not proved. Although there was some evidence regarding this particular, the Panel found insufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof.

Particular 10

64. The Registrant completed a social work assessment in relation to SUE on 4 September 2014.

65. The Panel found particular 10(a) proved. The assessment included annotations that the Registrant’s summary of the circumstances of SUE was too brief and did not include key events in the last review period. There was no update on the progress of contact between SUE and his parents, which would be expected, as they failed to attend the previous contact. In her oral evidence ME told the Panel that she believed that the Registrant had cut and pasted information from previous assessments, but had not made any necessary adjustments. The Registrant repeated old family history that was repetitive and unnecessary for SUE to keep re-reading.

66. The Panel found particular 10(b) proved by the evidence of ME. Although the information is redacted in the assessment, the Panel accepted ME’s evidence that the assessment included incorrect spellings of the names of SUE’s siblings.

67. The Panel found particular 10(c) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The assessment included a section for the Registrant to describe how the placement met the child’s needs. The Registrant only recorded two sentences and the annotation that had been made by her manager on the assessment was “more detail here”. The information provided by the Registrant was not sufficient for the reader to understand SUE’s progress in the placement and whether the placement was meeting SUE’s needs.

68. The assessment was inadequate because the incorrect spelling and lack of sufficient detail reduced its quality for the review. Consequently, there was the potential that the needs of the child might not be fully addressed, that the optimal outcome might not be achieved, and the child might not understand his situation.

Particular 11

69. The Registrant completed a social work assessment for SUF, SUE’s sibling, on 8 September 2014.

70. The Panel found particular 11(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. There are a number of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the assessment as shown by a manager’s annotations on the assessment.

71. The Panel found particular 11(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The assessment had been annotated by the manager to show that the section on the child’s circumstances is too brief. ME explained that this section should include information about events including three placement changes. The assessment is also annotated asking whether the views of the child’s parents have been sought.

72. The Panel found particular 11(c) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. SUF is female, but in the “health development” section of the assessment she is referred to as male. ME cross referenced the information and identified that this error had been made because the Registrant had copied and pasted the information from a sibling’s assessment.

73. The assessment prepared for SUF by the Registrant was inadequate because of the errors and insufficient detail.

Particular 12

74. The Panel found particular 12(a) and 12(b) not proved. A later life letter is a parting letter from the social worker to the child. The child reads the letter when they are older. The letter summarises the story of the child, how the adopters were found, and it includes personal details. A later life letter for SUG was not available for the Panel to review.

75. The Panel found that the information was ambiguous. The documentary evidence was unclear. The supervision record noted for 30 September 2014: “I don’t believe that the life journey work and later life letter has been done for SUG”. ME’s evidence was that the Registrant completed a later life letter in relation to SUG which was poorly written and had incorrect information. The Panel concluded that the HCPC has not discharged the burden of proof, in relation to proving that the later life letter was “completed”.

Particular 13

76. The Registrant completed a social work assessment in respect of SUG on 19 September 2014 for the purpose of a LAC review.

77. The Panel found particular 13(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The Registrant’s assessment was annotated by a manager who identified the spelling and grammatical errors.

78. The Panel found particular 13(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The analysis section of the assessment was also annotated because the Registrant had not focussed on the recent period of time or referred to the relevant issues including the level and quality of contact in relation to SUG, and the plans moving forward.

79. The social work assessment for SUG was inadequate because of the errors and lack of sufficient analysis.

Particular 14

80. The Registrant completed a social work assessment for SU H dated 11 September 2014.

81. The Panel found particular 14(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The section covering the “child/young person’s circumstances” is two short sentences. The annotation by the manager records “too brief. This should summarise review period for child and key/significant events”. This issue of lack of sufficient detail was not rectified in a second draft of the assessment, also dated 11 September 2014.

82. The Panel found particular 14(b) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The annotated assessment highlighted spelling and grammatical errors. The second draft of the assessment included spelling and grammatical errors.

83. The Panel found particular 14(c) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence. The annotated assessment highlighted content that did not make sense in the “identity and social skills” section of the assessment.

84. The social work assessment was inadequate because of the errors, lack of sufficient detail, and the content which did not make sense.

Particular 15

85. SUI was in the Registrant’s caseload while she worked in the Transitions Team under the management of LW. SUI was over the age of 14 and was at risk of significant harm from potential sexual exploitation.

86. The Panel found particular 15 proved by the evidence of LW and the documentary evidence. Despite having met with SUI, the Registrant did not identify the issues or make a referral to a Multi-Agency Sexual Exploitation (MASE) strategy meeting. (MASE is a multi-agency team which shares sensitive information with the police and other agencies to ensure that young people are safeguarded from perpetrators of child sexual exploitation.) There were indicators that a referral was required, including that SUI was going missing regularly, that she was withdrawn, had extra money, and had contracted a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). As a result of her concerns these indicators had not been dealt with and no referral had been made, the LAC nurse brought the matter to the attention of the Registrant’s manager.

87. The Registrant had undertaken child sexual exploitation training while employed by the Council which covered the indicators for a MASE referral.

Particular 16

88. The Panel found particular 16 not proved. The documentary evidence relied on by the HCPC is a Special Guardianship Report which is undated. This undated assessment makes reference to dates in 2015. Therefore, it appears that the specified date of 15 June 2014 in particular 16 does not relate to this Special Guardianship Report. The evidence of ME also referred to the assessment in question being completed by the Registrant while she was seconded to the Transitions Team. The Panel is aware that this placement took place between May and September 2015.

Particular 17

89. The Registrant completed a statement in relation to SUL who was part of a large sibling group who had been removed from their parents. The grandmother of the sibling group made an application to the Court to request contact with the children. The Registrant’s assessment was to address this application, having carried out an assessment.

90. The Panel found particular 17(a) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The assessment is annotated by CI, identifying spelling and grammatical errors.

91. The Panel found particular 17(b) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. CI explained in her evidence that the court expects the statement to be completed in accordance with a precedent format, but the Registrant had adopted a different format.

92. The Panel found particular 17(c) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. An example is that the Registrant wrote “the social worker has went to seen”. It is difficult for the reader to read and understand parts of the statement.

93. The Panel found particular 17(d) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The statement’s purpose was to address the application by the grandmother for contact, but it did not include an adequate analysis of SUL’s relationship with their grandmother. CI annotated the assessment to add “from the children’s descriptions what do you deduce about their relationship with grandmother…what you think are the children’s motivations for saying they want contact?”.

94. The Panel found particular 17(e) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The Registrant also referred to the fact that the contact between SUL and siblings should be reduced to monthly, but did not explain the reasons for this decision.

95. The Panel found particular 17(f) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. CI annotated the assessment asking “why does this mean she doesn’t attend?” in relation to contact with SUL’s siblings arranged for Saturdays.

96. The first draft statement prepared by the Registrant was inadequate because of the errors, incorrect format, content which did not make sense, and inadequate detail. These matters required CI to set aside a significant amount of time to review the draft and ensure that it was of an adequate standard for court.

Particular 18

97. The Registrant prepared a second version of her statement concerning SUL in relation to the same application made by the grandmother for contact. The Registrant made amendments to her first draft, but CI also identified problems with the second draft statement.

98. The Panel found particular 18(a) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The assessment contained spelling and grammatical errors as identified by the annotations on it.

99. The Panel found particular 18(b) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. In her oral evidence CI gave an example of part of the assessment which did not make sense: “This leaves very little quality time with the Foster carer and there.”

100. The Panel found particular 18(c) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The assessment stated that SUL wished to continue contact with their grandmother, when there had been no contact previously. The annotations to the statement highlighted this point.

101. The second version of the statement in relation to SUL was inaccurate and inadequate; and because of the poor quality, it could not be submitted to the Court.

Particular 19

102. The Registrant prepared a social work assessment in relation to SUL dated 8 October 2015.

103. The Panel found particular 19(a) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. CI identified that the Registrant had duplicated information from another sibling’s record, but had not amended it so that it was specific to the service user. “He” and “she” were therefore used inaccurately in the assessment.

104. The Panel found particular 19(b) partially proved. The HCPC has not proved that the Registrant did not include any analysis of permanency. The Panel found that there was a degree of analysis regarding permanency in the assessment in the section under “professional views”. The particular is proved to the extent that the Registrant’s analysis was not adequate. When she reviewed the assessment CI recorded in the manager’s comments section: “I am unsure from the assessment completed why Special Guardianship is not being considered at this time. The child’s young age would suggest a greater need to secure permanency; rather than less. This needs more thorough exploration.”

105. The social work assessment for SUL was inaccurate and inadequate because it contained content copied from the records of a sibling and because it did not include an adequate analysis of permanency in SUL’s placement.

Particular 20

106. The Registrant completed a Section 47 report in relation to SUQ. It was alleged that SUQ had been involved in a child sexual incident and there was a concern about child exploitation. The assessment should detail the investigation and any action taken including the police interview with the child. It should outline actions and recommendations. The recommended outcome for SUQ was that the case should be referred to the MASE Team.

107. The Panel found particular 20(a) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The assessment included a “manager’s comment” from a separate part of the Council’s recording system which had been copied and pasted by the Registrant into the recommendations part of her assessment. CI explained that this was inappropriate because the Registrant had carried out the investigation and had the knowledge of the facts. The recommendation should be the Registrant’s professional opinion, rather than CI’s professional opinion.

108. The Panel found particular 20(b) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. Although the assessment included analysis, this was CI’s analysis rather than the Registrant’s analysis.

109. The Section 47 assessment was inaccurate and inadequate because the Registrant had copied a manager’s comment rather than complete her own analysis of the concerns.

Particular 21

110. The Registrant was asked to write a Later Life letter in relation to SUR so that the case could be closed. CI explained the importance of the Later Life letter for the child and the carer. The carer may use the letter to provide information to the child about their birth parents and background. The letter is important for the child in their later life to understand their history and the decisions that were made by the the Council. The Registrant prepared a Later Life letter, but CI identified a number of concerns with its contents.

111. The Panel found particular 21(a) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The Later Life letter included spelling and grammatical errors as shown by the annotations made by CI.

112. The Panel found particular 21(b) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. CI confirmed in her evidence that the name of the service user was incorrectly spelt.

113. The Panel found particular 21(c) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. The letter is for the child and therefore it should use language which is child friendly. The Registrant referred to legal orders and “family finder” without explaining the terms.

114. The Panel found particular 21(d) proved by the evidence of CI and the documentary evidence. As an example, CI explained that in this case there was a meeting between the adoptive mother and the birth mother, which is an important event that would want to know about. The Registrant did not refer to this meeting in the letter. The letter also did not include details of SUR’s siblings, their dates of birth and their placements.

115. The Later Life letter was inadequate because of these shortcomings.

Particular 22

116. The Panel found particular 22 proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence.

117. An IRO sent an e-mail to the Registrant on 7 November 2013 confirming that SUT was to be adopted on 3 December 2013. He sought assurance that the later life letter was in order. On 5 June 2014, the IRO sent a further e-mail to the Registrant confirming that SUT had been adopted, but a later life letter had still not been completed. Following further chasing correspondence, the Registrant’s manager advised the IRO that the work was nearly completed and would be sent to the carers on 4 July 2014.

118. The Later Life letter was still not complete by 15 July 2014 and the IRO continued to chase it on behalf of the family. The Registrant’s manager confirmed that the letter had been completed on 28 July.

119. The Later Life letter was therefore not completed until nine months after SUT was placed for adoption. This was not timely.

Particular 23

120. The Panel found particular 23(a) proved by the evidence of ME and the documentary evidence.

121. ME explained in her evidence that statutory guidance requires that a child should be seen in placement every six weeks where a plan of permanency has not been secured. A statutory visit requires that the child is seen in placement and where possible alone. It is not sufficient for the Registrant to see the child at a meeting outside the placement because a child may behave differently in their home environment.

122. The records for SUB were not provided to the Panel, but the log of visits is set out in the social work assessment. This showed that the Registrant saw SUB in placement on only three occasions and on other occasions she saw SUB at contact. The visits in placement were on 9 January 2013, 3 April 2013 and 14 May 2013. The frequency of visits in the placement was insufficient for the period 11 December 2012 to 3 April 2013.

123. The Panel found particular 23(b) in respect of the period 14 May to 3 September 2013 proved for the same reasons.

Particular 24

124. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s conduct, in particular relating to 3(b) and 3(d), was misleading and found that it was. ME was misled; she believed that the social work assessment was written by the Registrant until she discovered SW1’s abandoned assessment.

125. In deciding whether or not the Registrant’s conduct was dishonest the Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. Applying the guidance from the Supreme Court decision in Ivey v Genting Casinos it first considered the Registrant’s state of mind. Having considered the Registrant’s understanding and beliefs, it applied an objective test, and considered whether the Registrant’s conduct was honest or dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.

126. The Panel decided that the Registrant’s conduct in copying the content of a social work assessment completed by SW1 and completing the assessment so that it appeared to be her own work, was misleading.

127. The Panel considered the Registrant’s state of mind at the time of the events. When ME asked the Registrant about the social work assessment for SUB the Registrant initially claimed to have completed the work herself. She did not admit that she had relied on the work of SW1 at the first opportunity and subsequently gave no credible explanation. The Panel’s view is that the social work assessment was not her own work and that it would have been completely unacceptable to base her assessment on input from a colleague who had no current understanding of the family situation and who had no legitimate reason for accessing the case file.

128. The Panel next considered whether the Registrant’s conduct was honest or dishonest, given her state of mind. Applying the standards of ordinary decent people, the Panel found that the Registrant’s conduct was dishonest.

129. The Panel therefore found particular 24 proved in that the matters at particular 3(b) and 3(b) were misleading and dishonest.


Decision on Grounds

130. The question of whether the facts constitute misconduct or a lack of competence is for the judgment of the Panel and there is no burden or standard of proof.

131. There is no statutory definition of misconduct, but the Panel had regard to the guidance of Lord Clyde in Roylance v GMC (No 2) 1 AC 311: “Misconduct is a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances. The standard of propriety may often be found by reference to the rules and standards ordinarily required to be followed by a practitioner in the particular circumstances…”. The conduct must be serious in that it falls well below the standards.

132. The Panel considered that particulars 3(b), 3(d) and 24 were particularly serious. The Registrant’s conduct was dishonest in that she purported to have written the social work assessment for SUB and only admitted that she had not done so when ME provided her with evidence to the contrary. Her behaviour lacked integrity, was a breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession and would be viewed as deplorable by fellow practitioners.

133. The Panel also considered that the conduct in particular 4 was serious and fell well below the standards for social workers. The Registrant knew that it was not appropriate for SW1 to complete the draft of the social work assessment, but nevertheless asked her to do so. In taking this action she showed a disregard to the potential for SW1’s actions to involve a breach of data protection or a breach of confidentiality. SW1 did not have current knowledge of SUB and therefore could not produce an accurate or appropriate representation of SUB’s circumstances and needs.

134. The Panel also considered that particular 15 represented a serious falling short of the standards required. In her oral evidence CI described that at the time of this incident SUI was “the highest risk of child sexual exploitation in the service”. The Registrant had received the relevant training and would have known that she had a clear and urgent responsibility to safeguard SUI, but did not do so.

135. In the Panel’s judgement the Registrant’s conduct in particulars 3(b), 3(d), 4, 15 and 24 was sufficiently serious to constitute misconduct.

136. In the Panel’s judgement the remaining proved particulars did not constitute misconduct because they were more appropriately characterised as a lack of competence. Although the Registrant was an experienced social worker who had been working in the field of child protection since 1993 with a post-qualifying award in 2001, the proved particulars nevertheless demonstrated that the Registrant lacked the skill or ability to complete written work and other social work tasks to the required standards.

137. The Panel was satisfied that the proved particulars represent a fair sample of the Registrant’s work. They covered a prolonged period of time between 2012 to 2015 and involved a large number of service users, and multiple acts and omissions.

138. The Panel had regard to the background and context. There was evidence that concerns were raised by a wide range of professionals, both within and outside social work. Issues were raised by the legal representatives and the foster carers of looked after children and there were complaints about the impact on the children and those involved in their care. Extensive steps were taken by the Registrant’s employer to assist the Registrant to address the deficiencies in her practice, but this was unsuccessful. This included both an informal and formal capability process, a reduced workload, intensive weekly supervision, and guidance from managers. There was no significant improvement in the Registrant’s work. The Registrant’s managers were concerned about the lack of progress and the Registrant’s lack of understanding regarding the steps she needed to take to improve her work.

139. The Panel heard evidence that prior to June 2014 managers had failed to consistently address the Registrant’s shortcomings. However, it was reassured that from June 2014 every effort was made by the Registrant’s managers to raise her standard of work. ME, CI and LW had a positive attitude to safeguarding and were demonstrably clear about their responsibilities to Looked After children in their care. In addition, it was evident to the Panel that they were genuine in their efforts to support the Registrant.

140. The Registrant brought a grievance against ME and for her benefit was transferred to another team during the investigation. Throughout this time, it became apparent that the Registrant’s failings were unresolved and they continued.

141. In the Panel’s judgement the standard of the Registrant’s work in particulars 1, 2(a), 2(b)(i), 2(b)(ii), 2(b)(iii), 3(a), 3(c), 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 6, 7(a), 7(b), 8(a), 8(b), 9(b), 9(c), 10(a), 10(b), 10(c), 11(a), 11(b), 11(c), 13(a), 13(b), 14(a), 14(b), 14(c), 17(a), 17(b), 17(c), 17(d), 17(e), 17(f), 18(a), 18(b), 18(c), 19(a), 19(b), 20(a), 20(b), 21(a), 21(b), 21(c), 21(d), 22, 23(a), and 23(b) was unacceptably low and constituted lack of competence.

142. In reaching its decision that some of the proved particulars constituted misconduct and some of them constituted a lack of competence the Panel considered the relevant standards and identified a breach of the HCPC Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics (2012) standards 1, 2, 7, 10 and 13 and a breach of the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers particularly 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.7, 2.8, 2.10, 3.1, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4. 4.5, 7.1, 7.2, 8.2, 8.5, 8.11, 9.1, 9.2, 9.4, 10.1, 10.2, 11.1, 11.2, 12.1, 12.3, 14.1, 14.2. 14.3. and 15.1.


Decision on Impairment 

143. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practice is Impaired”. The Panel considered the Registrant’s fitness to practise at today’s date.

144. The Panel first considered the personal component.

145. The Panel had the formal response from the Registrant regarding the Allegation, but this did not include any information regarding her current insight, remorse, or remediation. The Registrant attributes her level of performance while employed by the Council to health matters, but she did not provide any up to date information about her current health.

146. The Panel noted that as part of the capability process the Registrant provided an undated personal statement. Although it is undated, this statement may have been prepared in 2015 because it refers to an upcoming appointment in January 2016. In this statement the Registrant asked for her health condition to be taken into account and referred to her negative views about her managers.

147. The Panel also carefully considered the formal response to the Allegation provided by the Registrant’s Unison representative. This set out the Registrant’s health and personal circumstances, but it did not provide any reflections or other information. The Panel did not consider that the Registrant demonstrated insight, remorse or remediation in this response.

148. The Registrant failed to engage with the opportunities and supervision which was put in place to support her by the Council, persistently failing to follow the advice, assistance, and guidance she was given to improve her performance and service to the looked after children.

149. The Panel took into account the extent of the Registrant’s misconduct and lack of competence, together with the extensive steps taken by the Council to support her in addressing her failings. In these circumstances, the Panel’s judgement is that the Registrant’s misconduct and lack of competence is not remediable. The Panel has seen no evidence that the Registrant has made any progress to remedy her failings and this leads it to conclude that there is a very real risk of repetition and to vulnerable service users or to others.

150. The Panel therefore decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of the personal component.

151. The Panel next considered the wider public interest considerations including the need to uphold standards of conduct and behaviour and to maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

152. The Panel has found numerous breaches of the HCPC Standards of Conduct and Ethics and the relevant Standards of Proficiency. The Panel has also made a finding that the Registrant was dishonest, which is a breach of a fundamental tenet of the profession. It would be unusual for a finding of dishonesty not to lead to a judgment that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of the public component as confirmed in the case of Professional Standards Authority v Ghaffar [2014] EWHC 2723.

153. Public confidence would be undermined if the Panel did not make a finding that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, especially given the Panel’s decision that there remains a very real risk of repetition and potential resultant harm to the most vulnerable service users if no restriction were placed on the Registrant’s practice.

154. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired on the basis of the personal component and the public component.


Decision on Sanction

155. In considering which, if any, sanction to impose the Panel had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and the advice of the Legal Assessor.

156. The Panel reminded itself that the purpose of imposing a sanction is not to punish the Registrant, but to protect the public and the wider public interest. The Panel ensured that it acted proportionately, and in particular it sought to balance the interests of the public with those of the Registrant, and imposed the sanction which was the least restrictive in the circumstances commensurate with its duty of protection.

157. The Panel decided that the aggravating features were the:

• wide ranging and persistent matters over a protracted period of time;

• detrimental impact on multiple vulnerable service users;

• Registrant’s lack of response to structured support;

• Registrant’s lack of understanding, failure to take responsibility and attributing blame to others;

• dishonest behaviour;

• real risk of repetition.

158. The Panel decided that the mitigating features were:

• the Registrant’s long history as a Social Worker with no regulatory fitness to practise history;

• the private matters set out in the Registrant’s formal response to the Allegation;

• the Registrant did not receive consistent managerial intervention to improve the standard of her work until June 2014.

159. The Panel considered the seriousness of the dishonesty in this case and identified aggravating features. It was dishonesty in the professional context, it was an active rather than a passive form of dishonesty, and the Registrant had demonstrated no insight or remorse. The Panel’s assessment was that the dishonesty was serious.

160. The Panel considered the option of taking no action. This is an exceptional outcome and would clearly not be sufficient to protect the public or the public interest, given the gravity of the matters and the ongoing risk to the public. Mediation is not appropriate for the same reason.

161. The Panel next considered the option of a Caution Order. The Panel noted the guidance in the ISP that “A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited, or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the Registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate remedial action”. This guidance does not apply because the Registrant’s misconduct and lack of competence is too serious, and a Caution Order would be insufficient to protect the public.

162. The Panel considered the more serious sanction of a Conditions of Practice Order, but decided that it would not be sufficient or workable. The matters are not remediable and there is a real risk of repetition. The high level of structured support and supervision provided by the Council proved ineffective in preventing repetition. The Registrant has not demonstrated that she is committed to resolving the matters. The matter also involves dishonest conduct and conditions of practice would be insufficient to maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

163. The Panel next considered the more serious options of a Suspension Order or a Striking-Off Order. The Panel carefully reviewed and evaluated the mitigating circumstances; it decided that those circumstances had little weight.

164. The Registrant’s previous history as a Social Worker had to be considered in the context of the seriousness of the lack of competence and the misconduct which took place over an extended period of time from 2012 to 2015.

165. The Panel gave careful consideration to the health matters described by the Registrant. The Panel noted that the majority of the health issues were raised by the Registrant retrospectively, rather than being raised as an ongoing concern within the supervision sessions. The Panel heard evidence that the Registrant’s health and wellbeing were discussed as the initial agenda item at the beginning of each supervisory meeting, with appropriate support offered. [REDACTED]

166. As explained in its decision on lack of competence, the Panel was reassured that after June 2014 the Registrant received consistent structured management support for a significant period of time. Overall, therefore, the Panel’s assessment was that the Registrant was given sufficient management support to enable her to raise the standard of her work.

167. The Panel considered the Registrant’s interests. It noted that she has decided to retire and does not currently wish to return to practice.

168. The Panel did not consider that a Suspension Order was either sufficient or appropriate. The Registrant has not demonstrated insight, the Panel has found a real risk of repetition and an ongoing risk to service users and the case involves serious dishonesty which has an impact on the reputation of the profession.

169. The Panel decided that any sanction less than a Striking-Off Order would not be sufficient to protect the public interest, particularly given the seriousness of the dishonesty and the Registrant’s lack of insight.

170. The Panel therefore decided that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking-Off Order.

 

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Nilima Thawait from the Register.

Notes

Interim Order

1. Mr Ferson submitted that the Panel should hear his application for an Interim Suspension Order in the absence of the Registrant.

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

3. The Panel decided that it was fair and appropriate to proceed and hear the application in the absence of the Registrant. The Registrant was advised in the Notice of Hearing dated 25 April 2019 that an application for an interim order might be made. There was nothing to indicate that the Registrant wished to make submissions in relation to this application, and it was in the public interest to proceed.

4. Mr Ferson made an application for an Interim Suspension Order for the maximum period of 18 months to cover the 28 day appeal period and the time that might be required to conclude any appeal.

5. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

6. The Panel decided that an interim order was necessary for the protection of the public. The Panel has identified a real risk of repetition which involves an ongoing need to protect the public. The Panel also considered that an interim order was otherwise in the public interest. A member of the public would be shocked or troubled to learn that there was no interim restriction in place.

7. The Panel did not consider that the risks in this case could be addressed by an Interim Conditions of Practice Order because of its earlier conclusions that conditions would not be sufficient to protect the public or the public interest.

8. The Panel decided to make an Interim Suspension Order for a period of 18 months, the maximum duration, to allow sufficient time for the disposal of any appeal.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Nilima Thawait

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
10/06/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
20/12/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Hearing has not yet been held