Mr Ian G Murfitt

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW29366

Interim Order: Imposed on 14 Nov 2018

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 12:30 10/05/2019 End: 17:00 10/05/2019

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

As found proven at the final hearing on 14-16 November 2018:

Whilst registered with the HCPC as a Social Worker, and employed as an Education Outreach Worker at Visyon Ltd, you:

1.  Did not adequately safeguard Service User A and/or Service User B, in that:

(a)  On or around 12 January 2017, you:

(i) Did not alert Visyon's Safeguarding Team about Service User A's disclosure of a potential safeguarding concern and/ or log a cause for concern.

(ii)  Did not inform Service User A's Social Work team of the concern.

(iii)  Did not inform Service User A's school and/or an appropriate Local Authority Agency about the concerns and/or record doing so.

(b)  On or around 19 January 2017, you:

(i)  Did not alert Visyon's Safeguarding Team about the concerns raised by Person C and/or log a cause for concern.

(ii) Did not inform Service User B's Social Work team of the concerns.

(iii) Did not inform Service User B's school about the concerns and/or record doing so.

2.  Did not disclose to your manager that you had a pre-existing professional relationship with Person C.

3.  The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 2 constitute misconduct.

4.  By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters

Service of notice of review hearing


1. The Panel noted that notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant’s registered address on 10 April 2019 which contained the required information regarding the date, venue and time of the hearing. The Panel was satisfied that notice had been served in accordance with the rules.

Proceeding in the Registrant’s absence

2. Ms Simpson applied for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. Ms Simpson referred the Panel to an email from the Registrant to the HCPC dated 15 April 2019 in which he stated that, “I am unable to attend your hearing as I have to earn a living. I now work in a sector totally unconnected to Social Work”. In a previous email from the Registrant to the HCPC dated 11 April 2019, the Registrant stated, “I have cancelled my membership of the HCPC”.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and considered whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence with the utmost care and caution. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily absented himself from this hearing. Further, no application for an adjournment had been made. The Panel took into account that the suspension order will expire on 13 June 2019 and that the public interest weighed heavily in favour of the review being dealt with expeditiously. The Panel considered that no purpose would be achieved by adjourning this review and determined to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

4. The Registrant was employed as a Family Support Worker at Visyon, a children and young people's mental health charity, from 1 January 2013. As part of his role he worked with families, focusing on the children's needs.

5. On 20 April 2017, the Registrant passed a letter of complaint that he had received from the paternal grandfather of Service User A and Service User B to a Senior Manager at Visyon. The investigation into the complaint letter, which was completed by SM, uncovered concerns regarding the Registrant's management of the cases of Service User A and Service User B.

6. These matters were referred to the HCPC.

Decision on the Review

Impairment


7. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired. It had regard to the findings of the previous panel and to any new information before this Panel today.

8. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and considered the HCPTS Practice Note on “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”.

9. As did the previous panel, in determining whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Panel took into account both the “personal” and “public” components of impairment. The “personal” component relates to the Registrant’s own practice as a social worker, including any evidence of insight and remorse and efforts towards remediation. The “public” component includes the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour, and maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator.

10. With regard to the “personal” component of impairment, the Panel was presented with no information that the Registrant had demonstrated any insight or remediation of his misconduct. Notwithstanding that the previous panel made useful recommendations as to what material would be review to the reviewing panel, no material has been provided. Accordingly, the Panel considered that there remains a risk of repetition of the matters found proved.

11. The Panel also found the “public” component of impairment continued to be satisfied in this case. The Panel considered that public confidence in the profession and in the Regulator would be undermined if there were no finding of impairment, given the Panel’s finding that the Registrant had failed to adequately safeguard two child service users and that the Registrant had failed to provide any evidence of insight or remediation. The Panel therefore found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

Decision on Sanction

12. The Panel took into account the submissions of Ms Simpson on behalf of the HCPC.

13. The Panel adopted the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that the purpose of a sanction is not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public and the wider public interest of upholding proper standards and maintaining public confidence in the profession and the Regulator. The Panel applied the principle of proportionality, balancing the interests of the Registrant with those of the public, and considered the available sanctions in ascending order.

14. The Panel had regard to the aggravating and mitigating factors identified by the previous panel. The Panel considered the matter was further aggravated by the Registrant’s non-engagement with the HCPC.

15. Given the serious nature of the misconduct which involved placing two vulnerable children at unwarranted risk of harm, the Panel considered the matter too serious to take no action or for a caution order.

16. The Panel considered that no appropriate or workable conditions could be formulated, given the Registrant’s non-engagement and the information that the Registrant is no longer working as a Social Worker.

17. The Panel carefully considered whether to extend or impose a further period of suspension. The Panel took into account that suspension is appropriate where a Registrant has shown insight and could remediate his misconduct. A suspension must also have a purpose and be sufficient to protect the public and the public interest.

18. The Panel took into account that the previous panel imposed a suspension order for 6 months as a striking off order was not merited at that stage. However, the previous panel also made recommendations of actions to be taken by the Registrant and material which would assist a review panel.

19. This review Panel has been presented with no evidence of reflection or remediation by the Registrant who has positively dis-engaged from her Regulator. The Registrant has repeatedly stated in his emails and at the previous hearing that he wished a conclusion of these proceedings and not to work anymore in the Social Work profession. In these circumstances, the Panel considered that no purpose would be served by a further period of suspension which would not protect the public or the public interest.

20. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was a striking off order.

Order

Order That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Ian G Murfitt from the Register upon the expiry of the current suspension order on 13 June 2019.

Notes

This Order will apply from 13 June 2019.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Ian G Murfitt

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
10/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
14/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended