Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew

: Social worker

: SW00690

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:13:00 27/01/2015 End: 15:30 27/01/2015

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

As found at the final hearing which concluded on 21 May 2014

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), between 1 June 2011 and December 2012 you:

1. Did not submit your Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) portfolio due on 5 November 2012.

2. Did not adequately plan and manage your workload in that you:

a) did not complete the case closures identified in July 2012 in 10 of your 33 cases;

b) Not proved

c) did not file your reports in time allow for reflection, learning and development.

3.Not proved

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

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

Finding

Background
1. The Registrant was employed by CAFCASS from September 2010 and commenced a three-year Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) training programme in June 2011. She was required to complete a portfolio of evidence at the end of the first year of the programme but failed to do so then or by the extended deadline, following further extensions of time. When she did submit her paperwork it fell below the required standards. CAFCASS also identified that the Registrant was failing to close cases, and was not filing court reports in time.  The matter was referred to a formal capability meeting on 05 December 2012, which resulted in the Registrant being dismissed on the grounds of lack of capability.

2. The concerns of the Registrant’s former employer were referred to the HCPC, resulting in the current proceedings. A final hearing of the allegations referred to above took place before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 20-21 May 2014. The Registrant did not attend that hearing but admitted the facts alleged in particulars 1, 2a and 2c, which the Panel found proved. That Panel decided that the proven facts constituted lack of competence. The Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired and imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 9 months, which it considered was proportionate to the lack of competence in issue and would give the Registrant sufficient time to remedy the deficiencies in her practice.

3. The Registrant was advised that the reviewing Panel was likely to be assisted by evidence of remediation and, in particular, a reflective statement on the outcome of the proceedings and the extent to which she had changed her behaviour and developed her insight. The Registrant was also advised that her attendance at the review hearing would be helpful and details of any training undertaken, employment references and other steps taken to remedy her deficiencies.
Decision
4. The Panel today was provided by the HCPC with a bundle of documents containing the papers before the substantive hearing and the decision of that Panel.

5. The Registrant provided a written statement about her reflections on the previous Panel’s findings and her explanation as to her health issues which impacted on her work at the relevant time. She also gave evidence to this Panel as to her personal circumstances and what she had done since the last hearing to update her knowledge of current Social Worker practice and to address the past failures in her practice.

6. Mr Tallis submitted that the current Suspension Order on its expiry could properly be replaced by a Conditions of Practice Order. The Registrant agreed that this would be an appropriate course. However, when questioned by the Panel, neither Mr Tallis nor the Registrant were able to identify what conditions of practice might be appropriate to meet the circumstances of the case.
 
7. The Panel gave the Registrant full credit for attending the hearing and providing a reflective statement in which she recognised the importance of time management as an essential requirement of competent practice and her failures in that regard. She also identified that her health had been a contributory factor and that she needed to adopt strategies for dealing with stress which had previously had a negative impact on her work. However, when questioned by the Panel the Registrant was unable to describe what had changed to ensure that she would act differently in future and her insight in that respect appeared limited.

8. The Panel noted that the Registrant has not practised as a Social Worker since December 2012, nor had she been employed in any capacity since that time. This was due in part to difficult personal circumstances, including bereavement. She had only started applying for jobs recently and had so far been unsuccessful in obtaining employment. Nor had she undertaken any care-related work in a voluntary capacity, and stated that only recently did she feel able to do so. As a result the Registrant was unable to provide the Panel with any evidence of her ability to perform competently in a working environment.

9. Further, the Registrant’s efforts to maintain her interest, knowledge and skill base have been limited to online research, and reading relevant literature. In that regard, she was unable to answer the Panel’s questions as to any specific research that she had undertaken or knowledge that she had acquired. She was unaware of the need to maintain her Continuing Professional Development, notwithstanding her suspension.

10. In all these circumstances, the Panel found that the Registrant had not yet taken any significant steps to remediate her practice. Accordingly, her fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of her lack of competence.

11. In considering what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel took into account the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy, and accepted the advice of the legal assessor. The Panel considered the available sanctions in ascending order and applied the principle of proportionality to ensure that any sanction was no more restrictive than was required to protect the public and uphold proper standards of conduct on the part of registrants and maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulator.

12. The case was too serious for the Panel to take no further action on the expiry of the existing Order. Mediation was not relevant.

13. The Panel considered that a Caution Order would not provide any protection for the public because a caution order would not restrict the Registrant’s ability to practise.

14. The Panel gave careful consideration as to whether a Conditions of Practice Order was appropriate and were aware that they need to be realistic, workable and verifiable. However the Panel decided that the Registrant had not been proactive in identifying opportunities to develop her working practices nor had she taken sufficient steps to remedy her deficiencies. Therefore the Panel could not be confident that she could return to practise subject to conditions.

15. In the circumstances, the appropriate and proportionate sanction is to renew the Suspension Order for a further period of 9 months. This will give the Registrant further opportunity to find care-related work, whether in a paid or unpaid capacity, and to demonstrate that she has taken steps to acquire the competencies in which she was previously found to be deficient.

16. At the review of this Order, the review Panel is likely to be assisted by;

• The Registrant’s attendance in person.
• An up to date detailed CPD log showing a mixture of CPD activity.
• evidence of care-related work (whether paid or unpaid).
• references and testimonials relating to her performance and competencies.
• Information about any other steps she has taken to remedy the deficits identified.

 

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to suspend the name of Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew from the Register for period of 9 months from the date that this Order comes into effect.

Notes

This order comes into effect on 18 March 2015.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
17/11/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
18/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
14/08/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
27/01/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
20/05/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended