Ms Kayleigh L Moody

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW110802

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 29/03/2019 End: 17:00 29/03/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Caution

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Allegation

On 15 February 2018, at Greater Manchester Magistrates' Court, you were convicted of:

1. Three offences contrary to section 111 A(1A) and (3) of the Social Security Administration
Act 1992.

2. By reason of your convictions as set out at paragraph 1, your fitness to practise as a
Social Worker is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Proceeding in private

1. The Panel heard matters relating to the Registrant’s private life. The Panel noted Rule 10(1)(a) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) Procedure Rules 2003 (“Procedural Rules”) whereby matters pertaining to the health and private life of the Registrant, the complainant, any person giving evidence or any other person should be heard in private. The Panel determined that the parts of the hearing, where reference was to be made to the Registrant’s, and another person’s, private life and/or health, should be heard in private.

Background:

2. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker from 2 August 2016, working via an agency for Manchester City Council. The Registrant referred herself to the HCPC on 22 January 2018. She told the HCPC that she was due to appear in court on 15 February 2018 to answer three charges of ‘dishonestly failing to promptly notify the Department of Work and Pensions and/or the Local Authority of a change in circumstances, namely that she was in remunerative employment with increased earnings’. 

3. The Registrant entered a guilty plea on 15 February 2018 and was sentenced on 2 March 2018. A Community Order was imposed for a period of 12 months, to expire on 1 March 2019, and she was ordered to undertake unpaid work for 100 hours within that time. In addition, the Registrant was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £85 and ordered to pay the CPS costs of £85.

Decision on Facts:

4. Ms Moody accepted that she had been convicted of the above mentioned offences.

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

6. The Panel took into account the admission of the Registrant and the Memorandum of Conviction from the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court in relation to the Registrant and the criminal matters outlined above. It sets out clearly the offences for which the Registrant was convicted and the sentence imposed upon the Registrant.

7. Accordingly the Panel finds the fact of the conviction proved.

Decision on Impairment:

8. The Panel then went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of the conviction.

Submissions

9. Ms Hollos outlined the background facts of the conviction. She submitted that these matters were so serious that a finding of impairment was required to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

10. Ms Hollos submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired in that that the conviction was a serious matter, and the public interest requires that a finding of impairment be found so as not to undermined the public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

11. Ms Hollos reminded the Panel of the test for impairment of fitness to practise set out by Dame Janet Smith in her fifth report of the Shipman Inquiry.

12. The Registrant gave oral evidence and told the Panel of the circumstances that led to the conviction in question. She explained how she came to be charged with the offences and that she had pleaded guilty to the offences at the first available opportunity.

13. The Registrant also gave evidence of the reflections that she had undertaken into the impact her conviction could have upon services users, public perception and on her colleagues. She told the Panel of the positive steps she had undertaken to avoid being in the same circumstances that led to the offences being committed. An example was of how she now often goes into the job centre to give them information so as to ensure that they actually receive the information and acknowledge that they have received the information. She told the Panel that she now double-checks the advice that she receives from the job centre to ensure the accuracy of that advice.

14. The Registrant drew the Panel’s attention to the positive professional references provided by LM, HB and SM, all of whom, she said, were aware of the criminal proceedings and these proceedings with the HCPC.

15. The Panel found the Registrant to be clear and consistent in her evidence and regarded her as a credible and reliable witness.

Legal Advice

16. As part of his legal advice, the Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its role was not to go behind the conviction nor was it to seek to retry the criminal case. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that its task was to determine whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, based upon the nature, circumstances and gravity of the criminal offences concerned. The Panel should consider whether the Registrant’s actions had brought the social work profession into disrepute or had undermined public confidence in that profession, and if so, what was the likelihood of repetition on the part of the Registrant of the conduct leading to her conviction.

17. The Panel was advised that it could take into consideration the fact that the Registrant pleaded guilty to the offences at the earliest opportunity.

18. The Legal Assessor also advised the Panel to have regard to the court sentence received, but also to bear in mind that the sentence imposed is not necessarily a good indicator of the seriousness of the offence when considered in a regulatory context. This is because the prime consideration of regulatory tribunals is the protection of the public and of the wider public interest. As Dame Janet Smith noted in the Fifth Shipman Inquiry Report:
“The fact that the court has imposed a very low penalty or even none at all should not lead the [regulator] to the conclusion that the case is not serious in the context of [its own] proceedings. The role of the [regulator] in protecting [service users] involves different considerations from those taken into account by the criminal courts when passing sentence. What may well appear relatively trivial in the context of general criminal law may be quite serious in the context of [professional] practice.”

Panel’s consideration and decision

19. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. In reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to all the evidence before it. It took account of the submissions of Ms Hollos on behalf of the HCPC. The Panel also took into account the oral evidence of the Registrant, and the documentary evidence provided by her.

20. The Panel also had regard to the HCPTS’ practice note on ‘Convictions and Caution Allegations’.

21. In considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her conviction, the Panel adopted the approach formulated by Dame Janet Smith in her fifth report of the Shipman inquiry by asking itself the following questions:

Does the Registrant’s conviction, and the facts relating to the conviction show that her fitness to practise is impaired in the sense that she:

a) has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or

b) has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the social work profession into disrepute; and/or

c) has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the social work profession?; and/or

d) has in the past and/or is liable in the future to act dishonestly?

22. The Panel determined that, by this conviction, the Registrant had not put services users at risk of harm. However, she has brought the profession into disrepute, breached a fundamental tenet of the profession and has acted dishonestly.

23. However, the Panel were impressed with the oral evidence of the Registrant with regard to her attitude to the impact of her conviction on service user perceptions of her as a Social Worker and public confidence in the profession. The professional references support her evidence, and that she is unlikely to repeat her conduct leading to the offences being committed. She has demonstrated insight and remorse. She told the Panel that she had reflected on her actions during workplace supervision.

24. The Panel also took into consideration that the Registrant had referred herself to the HCPC, and had pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court at the earliest opportunity. It was clear from the reference from her Team Manager that the Registrant has been open and honest about her conviction.

25. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is not liable in future to put the public at risk of harm, nor is she liable in future to bring the profession into disrepute, nor is she liable to breach a fundamental tenet of the profession nor is she liable to act dishonestly.

26. However, the Panel determined that the conviction was such that the need to uphold professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. Therefore, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her conviction. It is imperative that social workers serve as role models to service users, particularly in regard to behaving with integrity. In the Panel’s view, integrity is at the bedrock of the social work profession. A member of the public would expect a conviction of this nature to be marked in some manner and, in the light of the powers of the HCPTS, would be concerned if no finding of impairment were made.

Decision on Sanction:

27. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired, the Panel then considered what sanction, if any, should be imposed. It took into account the submissions of Ms Hollos and the Registrant.

28. Ms Hollos told the Panel that the HCPC held a neutral position in regard to the sanction to be imposed in this case. She submitted that the aggravating features of this case were that there had been multiple offences, committed over a period of time that caused financial harm to The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and constituted a breach of trust.

29. Ms Hollos also submitted that mitigating factors in this case were that the Registrant had pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity, that she has demonstrated insight and remorse and has taken steps to remediate by paying back the funds to the DWP, and that the Panel had determined there was a low risk of reoffending.

30. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised the Panel that it should bear in mind that its over-arching duty is to protect the public and also the wider public interest, which includes maintaining and declaring proper standards of conduct and behaviour, maintaining the reputation of the profession, and maintaining public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.

31. The Panel had regard to all the evidence presented, and to the HCPTS’ Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel reminded itself that a sanction is not to be punitive although it may have a punitive effect. The Panel bore in mind the principles of fairness and proportionality when determining what the appropriate sanction in this case should be.

32. The Panel was aware that any sanction it imposes must be the least restrictive sanction that, in this case, is sufficient to protect the public interest. It should take into consideration the aggravating and mitigating factors in the case. The Panel also reminded itself that it must apply the principle of proportionality, weighing the Registrant’s interest against the public interest. 

Panel’s consideration and decision

33. The Panel has had regard to all the evidence presented, and to the HCPTS’ Indicative Sanctions Policy. This was not a case where the Registrant’s practice skills are in question. The testimonies of the witnesses attest to the Registrant being a highly competent and caring Social Worker, who has integrity. There are no identifiable areas of her practice that might benefit from re-training.

34. The Panel took into account the above factors when considering the issue of current impairment. In addition, it took into account the following factors:

a) the Registrant had fully engaged with this regulatory process;

b) no actual harm was caused to any service user;

c) there was no evidence of deep-seated attitudinal issues in relation to the Registrant’s probity;

d) the Registrant has apologised and is clearly remorseful and ashamed of her conviction;

e) the stressful and protracted personal circumstances prevailing at the time and the toll that these proceedings have had on her;

f) the Registrant’s previous unblemished record;

g) The fact that she has completed her sentence and is making restitution for the sums owing to the authorities;

35. The Panel also took into account the very positive references provided on behalf of the Registrant. In particular, the reference of her Team Leader, HB who stated:

“I am [the] team manager of Kayleigh. Since managing Kayleigh I have been impressed by her integrity in working with young people and securing very positive long term outcomes for them. Kayleigh is relentless in her pursuit of this.
Kayleigh has been a very positive influence in terms of the team as a whole. She role models committed practice and has been instrumental in terms of promoting team work and being organized within the team.

I have no concerns whatsoever in regards to Kayleigh’s ability to practise as a social worker. It would be an exceptional loss to the service and to children and young people should Kayleigh be considered not fit to practise.”

36. The remaining references support the above assessment of the Registrant’s abilities as a Social Worker. It was clear that the Registrant was highly regarded by her professional colleagues and external stakeholders.

37. The Panel first considered taking no action but concluded that the misconduct in this case was too serious for no action to be appropriate.

38. The Panel then considered whether to make a Caution Order. It bore in mind that a Caution Order would not restrict the Registrant’s right to practise. Whilst the criminal offences were not relatively minor in nature, the Panel were satisfied however, nevertheless, that it was conduct that was out of character for the Registrant. The Panel was mindful of its finding that the Registrant has demonstrated insight, and has taken positive steps to avoid a repetition of being in the same circumstances that led to the criminal offences. The Registrant has been held to account, and proper standards of practice and behaviour have been declared by the finding of impairment on public interest grounds alone.

39. The Panel determined that, in the circumstances of this case, the public interest would be met with the imposition of a Caution Order as a sanction. The Panel determined that a member of the public who was fully informed of the above considerations, would countenance the Registrant’s return to unrestricted practice to continue her service to the public.

40. The Panel then considered the more severe sanctions to ensure that it was imposing an appropriate sanction. However, Conditions of Practice would not be appropriate in this case as there are no identifiable areas of the Registrant’s practice that were in need of remediation.

41. The Panel also considered whether a period of suspension would be appropriate in this case. The Panel concluded that there was significant mitigation in this case, including the background factors cited above and the Registrant’s insight and remorse. The Panel was cognisant that the reputation of the profession is more important than the fortunes of any individual member. However, in this case, the impact is more than merely the loss of income as was in the case of Bolton v the Law Society [1994] 1 W.L.R. 512. The significant adverse impact upon the Registrant’s health in this case means that a suspension of the Registrant’s registration would be a wholly disproportionate sanction. The Panel is satisfied that a member of the public would be concerned if a sanction of suspension for a period of time were to be imposed in light of the particular circumstances of this case.

42. Furthermore, the Registrant is clearly a very competent social worker who works hard for her clients. The Panel considered that it would not be in the public interest to lose the services of such a competent and highly regarded social worker.

43. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would be sufficient to satisfy the wider public interest.

44. The Panel determined that the appropriate and proportionate period for which the Caution Order should be imposed is five years, given the need for public confidence to be upheld and a deterrent effect on the profession at large. The Panel took into consideration that the Indicative Sanction Policy states that the benchmark for Caution Orders is three years. However, the Panel was of the view that a Suspension Order could have been justified in this case, but for the extenuating circumstances outlined above. It determined that these matters were so serious that a Caution Order with a period of less than five years could not be justified.

 

Order

Order:  That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Ms Kayleigh L Moody with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 5 years from the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Kayleigh L Moody

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
29/03/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution