Mrs Santosh Dosanjh

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW54086

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 07/05/2019 End: 17:00 07/05/2019

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

Whilst registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a social worker and during the course of your employment with Warwickshire County Council, you:

1. Breached confidentiality, in that you accessed confidential records relating to Service User A, without permission and/or professional requirement to do so, on:

a) 25 July 2016; and

b) On an unknown date in/or after October 2017 (HCPC to offer no evidence)

2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 amount to misconduct.

3. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.”

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Registrant was present and represented and accepted that she had been properly served with the notice of hearing and papers.

Amending the Charges

2. The HCPC drew the Panel’s attention to the following in its skeleton argument:

“A preliminary hearing was held before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 01 February 2019, where the HCPC made an application to amend the allegation. The application was granted and the allegation was amended to read as follows:
Whilst registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a social worker and during the course of your employment with Warwickshire County Council, you:

1. Breached confidentiality, in that you accessed confidential records relating to Service User A, without permission and/or professional requirement to do so, on:

a) 25 July 2016; and

b) On an unknown date in/or after October 2017 (HCPC to offer no evidence)

2. The matters set out in paragraph 1 amount to misconduct.

3. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.”

3. The hearing proceeded on the amended allegation.

Consensual Disposal

4. The Registrant contacted the HCPC via her representatives on the 8th February 2019 and sought a consensual disposal. The HCPC considered the matter and concluded that it was suitable for a consensual disposal. The Registrant was informed that the HCPC considered that a three year caution order was the appropriate and proportionate disposal of this case. The Registrant responded positively to this suggestion and the matter was listed as a consensual disposal hearing.

Background

5. The Panel heard that the Registrant is a registered Social Worker. On 23 August 2017, a complaint was made to the HCPC by a member of the public (a relative of the Registrant), who claimed that the Registrant had accessed the Complainant’s son’s case file without a professional reason to do so. This amounted to a serious breach of confidentiality.

6. The Complainant provided screenshots of WhatsApp messages between herself and the Registrant in which the Registrant stated that she was aware of an electronic case file for the Complainant’s son.  The Registrant’s employer undertook an investigation and the notes and documents of that investigation were forwarded to the HCPC. The report revealed that the Registrant had looked at the case file on 25th July 2016, and this examination lasted just over one minute. There was no evidence that the Registrant sought to use this examination in a malicious or harmful way. The Registrant admitted the allegation in a detailed response for the Investigating Committee Panel and accepted that she had carried out an act of misconduct.

Decision on Facts

7. The Registrant had admitted the allegation and the Panel concluded that the evidence presented supported her admissions. It therefore found the facts proved on the Registrant’s admission.

Decision on Grounds

8. The Panel found the ground of misconduct proved. Plainly a social worker accessing the file of a child for her own private purposes was a serious breach of their professional duty and would be seen as such by fellow professionals and the general public.

Decision on Impairment

9. The Panel heard that the Registrant accepted that her fitness to practise is currently impaired on the public interest component of the ground. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had made early admissions to her misconduct, and had full insight into what she had done wrong. The Panel also found that the Registrant had remediated her misconduct. The Panel did not consider that there was a significant risk of the Registrant repeating her misconduct. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s misconduct was damaging to the reputation of the profession.

10. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s misconduct was so serious that the public would expect a finding of impairment to reflect the public interest in the maintenance of confidentiality in respect of Children’s Services records. The Panel therefore found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be currently impaired. 

Decision on Sanction 

11. The Panel considered the Indicative Sanctions Guidance and the HCPC Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent. The Registrant has had a thirty year unblemished career in social work. The Panel was impressed by the references submitted by three senior colleagues, including her line manager. The allegation relates to an isolated incident, in respect of which the Registrant has shown substantial insight. The Registrant admits the substance of the allegation and admits that this amounted to an act of misconduct. As such, the Panel considered that the proposed sanction, a caution order, would give the appropriate degree of public protection.

12. The Panel however did not think that the proposed length of the order, three years, was proportionate. It considered that the insight and remediation in this case was so impressive that it could not be said this length of time was necessary for the Registrant to reflect or improve her practice. Moreover, the HCPC submitted that the actions of the Registrant in this case, when viewed in their factual context, put this misconduct at a lower level of seriousness than other such breaches. Therefore, taking the public interest only into account, the Panel determined that a caution order for two years was the proportionate order.  This would ensure that confidence in the regulator and the professional standards were maintained, and strike the right balance given the nature of the misconduct.

13. This was communicated to the parties. The HCPC took instructions and the agreement was re-drafted to state that a caution order of two years duration was the agreed sanction. The Registrant agreed with this amendment.

14. There was no compelling argument that the public interest required that this case should be disposed of at a final substantive hearing. The Panel found that the Consent Order was proportionate, and an appropriate and expeditious way of dealing with this matter.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to register a caution order against the name of the Registrant for two years.

Notes

Right of Appeal

You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the Order it has made against you.
Under Article 29(10) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you.  The Panel’s Order will not take effect until the appeal period has expired or, if you appeal, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mrs Santosh Dosanjh

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution
28/11/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Hearing has not yet been held