Sally Caroline Parker

: Social worker

: SW84865

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 31/05/2016 End: 12:30 31/05/2016

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: 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 various conditions of practice.
7. The substantive order was subject to a mandatory review prior to its expiry, on 19 November 2014. At that hearing it was recorded that the Registrant had been 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 at that hearing 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 had 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.
8. The Registrant brought a variety of documentation to support her evidence in respect of the CAT role including testimonials, correspondence between herself service users and other professionals and a statement. The Registrant stated that her role as a CAT had helped her to address some of the issues leading to the substantive order- such as improvement in administrative and record keeping skills, knowledge and understanding of risk assessment and management. She fully accepted however, at that time, that she was unable to fully meet the Conditions of Practice because she had not worked as a Social Worker.  There were areas of practice which required to be addressed before she could return to practice. In order for her to resume Social Work practice she would need to undertake and benefit from a graduated reintroduction into the workplace. She identified the possible need for regular supervision initially, and support in working with computerised record keeping systems. The Registrant confirmed that the various personal and professional stressors that may have contributed to her previous poor practice had at that time been resolved.
9. The Registrant was not at that time actively seeking Social Work for a number of reasons. She evidenced an intention to move to Bristol and said it would be more appropriate to seek a role as a Social Worker once that relocation had taken place.
10. The Panel concluded 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. In particular it stated “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”. It made the following Conditions of Practice Order which were a modest variation to the Conditions made at the Substantive hearing:
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
Decision
11. In advance of the hearing today the Registrant made written representations and provided supporting documents. The Registrant also gave evidence under oath to the Panel by telephone and answered questions from the Panel and Ms Owusu-Akyem for the HCPC.
12. The Registrant was continuing to work as a CAT and evidenced work and training in that field. As with the previous hearing the Registrant indicated that her role as a CAT allowed her to address some of the shortcomings such as record keeping identified at the final hearing which had led to the substantive order. She had undertaken no actual Social Work however and nor had she undertaken any continuing professional development specific to Social Work. The Registrant indicated that she had not taken a post as a social worker due to her partner being unable to retire as planned. This had in turn meant the planned move to Bristol had to be put on hold. She indicated she was still hoping to move by the end of the year and this would allow her to realise her plan to resume working again as a Social Worker. In answer to questions from the Panel she indicated she still had a passion for Social Work. However she had not had taken into consideration the terms of the Council’s guidance contained in the publication entitled ‘Returning to Practice’ as she was specifically enjoined to do by the previous Panel, and she was unaware of any recent legislative changes in the mental health field. She had not undertaken any return to practice courses.
13. The HCPC position was essentially the same as that on the last review- there had been no compliance with the current conditions relating to her practice as a social worker as the Registrant is working without using her registration. The HCPC contended for a further Conditions of Practice Order but did not seek a move to a period of suspension at this time.
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- ‘Article 30 (2) Reviews’ which, while addressing a slightly different provision, contains useful guidance for the current application. In summary the legal principles in respect of an Article 30 (1) review are as follows:
i) The Primary objective of the Panel is to secure public protection in the most appropriate and proportionate way
ii) The Panel cannot go behind the original decision. Its task is to consider whether the order under review remains an appropriate and proportionate means of securing public protection
iii) The correct approach is to determine whether the Registrant’s impairment identified at the final hearing is still continuing and if so what level of restriction is appropriate
iv) The Panel can allow the current Conditions of Practice order to lapse, extend or further extend it by a period up to three years or replace it with any sanction that could have been made at the time of the substantive hearing.
15. The Panel had no doubt that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remained impaired. While the Panel accepted that the CAT role allowed her to demonstrate some skills and abilities apposite to the Social Worker role this was still very far from having her practice tested in the actual circumstances of a Social Work environment. The Registrant had a significant way to go to demonstrate that she had remedied her previous lack of competence. The Panel was firmly of the view that the Registrant needed to demonstrate competency in an actual Social Work role for an appropriate period of time and that work in an allied field was extremely unlikely to remedy the current impairment. 
16. The Panel went on to consider which level of restriction was appropriate and proportionate to continue to provide Service User protection. In so doing it had to balance the Registrant’s interests in being able to return to safe unrestricted practice at an appropriate time with the protection of the public. Allowing the current Conditions of Practice Order to lapse or the imposition of a Caution Order would, in the Panel’s view, provide inadequate Service User protection. As stated, the Registrant is some considerable way from being ready to return to unrestricted practice.
17. The Panel gave careful consideration as to whether a Conditions of Practice Order remained the proportionate and the appropriate measure at this time. The Panel is of the view that a Conditions of Practice Order is proportionate and appropriate. The Panel is of the view that with the right support and supervision, and with a phased and supervised return to the workplace – and with robust evidence of such – it may be possible for the Registrant to return to unrestricted practice at some future time. It is also for this reason why the Panel decided that at this time a suspension order would not be appropriate or proportionate.
18. That said the Registrant must be left in no doubt that any Conditions can only be met in an actual Social Work setting and through Social Work professional development training. They cannot be met through undertaking roles and/or training said to be allied to Social Work such as the CAT role.  
19. The Panel has imposed the varied Conditions of Practice Order for a period of twelve 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).

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the register to show that for a period of 12 months, from today’s date, 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 undertake 30 days appropriate social work continuing professional development (CPD) as indicated in the HCPC Returning To Practice guidance. You must provide evidence of having undertaken such CPD to the HCPC 7 days prior to the next review.
6. You must supply to the HCPC 7 days prior to the next review:
A. Copies of all social work supervision records agreed between, and signed by you and your named social work supervisor.
B. Evidence from your employer that you are managing your social work 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 within a social work setting.

Notes

This Conduct and Competence Committee Substantive Review took place at the HCPC, London on Friday 20 May 2016 at 10:00am.

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