Sally Caroline Parker

: Social worker

: SW84865

Interim Order: Imposed on 21 Jun 2013

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 19/11/2014 End: 12:00 19/11/2014

: Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BU

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

(As found proven at the Final Hearing)

 

During the course of your employment with Hampshire County Council as a Mental
Health Social Worker, between October 2009 and May 2012 you:


1. Did not consistently keep accurate or timely:


a) care plans;
b) crisis plans;
c) reports; and/or
d) risk assessments.


2. Did not maintain regular contact with Service Users.


3. Did not discharge Service Users in a timely manner.


4. The matters described in paragraphs 1-3 constitute a lack of competence.


5. By reason of your lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background


1. The Registrant qualified as a Social Worker in 1998 and later that year commenced work with Hampshire County Council (the County Council) as a Mental Health Social Worker, initially on a locum basis, but with the post becoming permanent in late 1999. In early 2003, she obtained her Post Qualification Stage 1, then becoming eligible to progress to undertake her training as an Approved Social Worker (ASW). The ASW training was completed in April 2004, with the final Post Qualification stage being completed in 2005. In current terminology, the Registrant is an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). The significance of this status is that she was authorised to carry out assessments for detention under the Mental Health Act. At the time to which this allegation relates, the Registrant was a social work member of the County Council’s Community Mental Health Team.

2. Concerns about the Registrant’s abilities were identified in October 2009, and during the period from that time until her dismissal in May 2012 her practice was the subject of close monitoring. The matters identified by the County Council through that monitoring process, which included regular supervision, were serious deficits in the Registrant’s record-keeping, especially relating to care plans, risk assessments and lack of contact with Service Users. Following an unsuccessful appeal against her dismissal this matter was referred to the HCPC (the Council).


3. At the start of the Final Hearing in June 2013, the Registrant indicated, through her representative, that the Registrant admitted the facts alleged against her, that those facts amounted to a lack of competence, and that her fitness to practise was impaired at that time. This was accepted by the Final Hearing Panel.


4. The Final Hearing Panel came to the conclusion that, whilst the shortcomings were serious, there were grounds for thinking that the Registrant both could, and would, perform to an acceptable standard if she were not subject to excessive workplace
stress. The Final Hearing Panel therefore came to the conclusion that a Conditions of Practice Order was the proportionate and appropriate Order to make.

5. The Final Hearing Panel stated that the Conditions of this Order had been designed to remove undue stress from the Registrant’s practice and to enable a future reviewing Panel to consider how she is performing with regard to record keeping.

6. The Final Hearing Panel considered that a Suspension Order was inappropriate because the Registrant was a committed Social Worker with a previously unblemished record, who wished to return to practice and who could safely be allowed to do so subject to the following

Conditions of Practice Order.

1. In respect of any work you intend to undertake (whether paid or unpaid) for which your registration with the HCPC is required, you must inform any employer, agency or other body to which you make application to undertake such work of the terms of this Order and of the Panel’s decision on the allegation.

2. You must not undertake any work for which your status as an Approved Mental Health Professional is required.

3. You must not accept any supervisory responsibility for social work students.

4. Upon commencement of any work as a Social Worker you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a supervisor who is a Social Worker registered by the HCPC.

5. No later than 1 November 2014 you must submit to the HCPC an anonymised audited account of the records of your Service Users (those records to include care plans, risk assessments, crisis plans and Service User contact).

6. The audit should be countersigned as correct by your supervisor(s).


7. This is a mandatory review of that Conditions of Practice Order which will expire on 19 December 2014.

Decision


8. The Registrant is restrained from working in the capacity of an Approved Mental Health Practitioner. The Conditions provide for her to undertake work as a Social Worker; however, she has not been working in that capacity since the Final Hearing. She has been, and is working as, a Cognitive Analytical Therapist (CAT), a role she trained for within the Community Mental Health Team when working for the County Council. The Registrant has stated that she undertook this training so that she would better understand and be able to support Service Users, particularly those who had a diagnosis of Personality Disorder. She was accredited as a CAT practitioner in 2009. The Registrant has been carrying out this therapy weekly on a sessional basis with a wide range of Service Users since February 2013 through the agency of Wings Counselling Service, a private practice.


9. The Registrant has supplied the Panel with the following:


Redacted correspondence between the Registrant, Service Users, and other clinical professionals and agencies. These, it was stated, demonstrated her abilities at assessment (including risk assessment) and management and discharge of Service Users.
 

Two testimonials. One from CAT Supervisor, Ms Maryanne Steele, and the other from CAT practitioner colleague, Suzanna Parker CPN.


A statement in which she identified the ways in which the work and study she had undertaken as a CAT practitioner has helped her to improve and demonstrate her administrative and record keeping skills. It has allowed her to maintain her knowledge and understanding of risk assessment and management, which is akin to that required within the Community Mental Health Team. It has also involved her working with other professionals in a similar way that a Social Worker would be part of such a team.

10. The Registrant has stated that she has been undertaking regular CAT Continuing Practice Development and she has endeavoured to keep up-to-date with Social Work and Mental Health issues and practice. However, in her statement dated 5 November 2014, the Registrant openly admitted that there were areas of practice which required to be addressed before she could return to practice. She acknowledged that the failings within her social work had been of a serious nature and in order for her to go back to work she would need to undertake and benefit from a graduated reintroduction into the work and workplace. She identified the possible need for regular supervision initially, and support in working with computerised record keeping systems. She believes that she has benefitted from her break from Social Work and she acknowledged that working part-time in the future may help her maintain a healthy work/life balance. The Registrant confirmed that the various personal and professional stressors that may have contributed to her previous poor practice had now been resolved.


11. The Registrant gave evidence at the hearing and, in response to questions, stated that she had not been actively seeking work as a Social Worker for several reasons. First, the work that she has been undertaking at Wings occupies a portion of her time. Secondly, she has continuing family care commitments. Thirdly, she intends moving to another part of the country and it would be more appropriate to seek a role as a Social Worker once that relocation has taken place.


12. The Council stated that in essence there had been no compliance with the current conditions as those relating to her practice as a Social Worker had not yet engaged, as the Registrant is working without using her registration. The Council stated that the Registrant had been engaging with the Council’s process and had taken some steps to keeping her knowledge and skills up-to-date. In its submission there remained concerns about the Registrant’s fitness to practise and that some form of restriction on her practice was still necessary. In the Council’s view the move to a period of suspension may be disproportionate at this time given that the Registrant has maintained her commitment for returning to her profession and had taken some steps towards maintaining her knowledge.


13. In undertaking its task today, the Panel is conducting a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant’s current abilities with a view to establishing whether she is now fit to return to unrestricted practice. The Panel is not undertaking the task of rehearing the matters that had been brought against the Registrant nor going behind the previous findings.


14. This Panel has taken into account all documentation placed before it and has heard and given appropriate weight to the fresh evidence of performance supplied by the Registrant. It has heard the parties’ submissions; taken and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor; and it has reminded itself of the terms of the Council’s Practice Note.


15. As directed, the Panel started its consideration as to whether the impairment found at the Final Hearing based on the Registrant’s lack of competence, remains and is a current, continuing state, or has been sufficiently addressed through measures undertaken by the Registrant.


16. The Panel noted that the Registrant had a relatively long unblemished career before the matters that arose in 2009, when there had been mitigating factors such as a lack of management support, the introduction of a new IT system, and her health being affected due to the stresses within the workplace. The Panel also noted that the Registrant expressed that she is able to return to work and believes her return to health is now complete as evidenced by her energy levels and renewed enthusiasm for life and her work.

17. The Panel gave this matter of current impairment careful consideration and came to the decision that the steps taken by the Registrant to date were insufficient to remedy her previous lack of competence. There was insufficient evidence of remedial action and this has been acknowledged by the Registrant.


18. This being the case, the Panel went on to consider which level of restriction was appropriate and proportionate to continue to provide Service User protection. The Panel appreciated that in undertaking this task it was balancing the Registrant’s interests in being able to return to safe unrestricted practice at an appropriate time with protection of the public. The Panel came to the view that to take no further action, in other words allowing the current Conditions of Practice Order to lapse, was inappropriate. The imposition of a Caution Order would, in the Panel’s view, provide inadequate Service User protection and so was also inappropriate.


19. The Panel gave careful consideration as to whether a Conditions of Practice Order remained the proportionate and the appropriate measure at this time.

20. In reaching its decision that Conditions of Practice are still the appropriate and proportionate restriction to impose, the Panel placed reliance on the following


That the Registrant had been utilising some of her previous knowledge and skills within her current employment as a therapist. However, her practice has not been tested within a pressurised environment in the role of a Social Worker.


The evidence before the Panel is that with the right support and supervision, and with a phased and supervised return to the workplace, the Registrant may safely return to practice at some future time.

21. With this in mind, the Panel has varied the Conditions so that they will support the Registrant in finding suitable work, but with sufficient safeguards to ensure Service User protection.


22. The Panel notes that the Registrant has currently been out of practice for a period in excess of two years and therefore she should take into consideration the terms of the Council’s guidance contained in the publication entitled ‘Returning to Practice’.
23. The Panel has imposed the varied Conditions of Practice Order for a period of eighteen months. However, if the Registrant gains suitable employment, and complies with and produces evidence that she has adequately fulfilled those conditions (which in line with the detail of the Conditions will take more than six months), then she is at liberty to apply for an early review of the Conditions of Practice Order pursuant to Article 30(2).


24. For completeness, the Panel records that it considered whether a Suspension Order is appropriate and proportionate but decided that, for the reasons identified by the Council in its submissions, a Suspension Order would be disproportionate.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the register to show that for a period of 18 months from the date the current order expires on 19 December 2014, you must comply with the following Conditions of Practice: 

Conditions


1. In respect of any work you intend to undertake (whether paid or unpaid) for which your registration with the HCPC is required, you must inform any employer, agency or other body to which you make application to undertake such work of the terms of this Order and of the Panel’s decision on the allegation.


2. You must not accept any supervisory responsibility for social work students.


3. Upon commencement of any work as a Social Worker you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a named supervisor who is a Social Worker registered by the HCPC and inform the HCPC of your supervisor’s name, qualification and position within the organisation.


4. You must not undertake any work for which your status as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) is required until you have completed a minimum of six months supervised and monitored work as a Social Worker and your supervisor is satisfied that you can undertake the AMHP role safely.


5. You must a supply the HCPC by 1 May 2016 with:
a. Copies of all supervision records agreed between, and signed by, you and your named supervisor.


b. Evidence from your employer that you are managing your caseload effectively, completing all assessments, case recordings and documentation in a timely manner.


c. Evidence that you have trained on, and are successfully using, an electronic record keeping system.

Notes

At a hearing held on 19 November 2014, the Panel made a Conditions of Practise Order to commence at the expiry of the current order on 19 December 2014.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Sally Caroline Parker

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
27/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
16/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
31/05/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
19/11/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
20/06/2013 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice