Ms Julie Ann Edmond

: Social worker

: SW76179

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 16/06/2016 End: 13:00 16/06/2016

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

Allegation (as amended on 24 June 2015)
Between 11 December 2012 and 15 November 2013, whilst employed as a Social Worker at Hertfordshire County Council, you:
1. Were late for scheduled appointments with Foster Carers including with:
a) Foster Carers I and J on:
i. 12 December 2012;
ii. 24 April 2013;
iii. 05 June 2013;
b) Foster Carer C on:
i. 01 May 2013;
ii. 08 May 2013;
c) Foster Carers D and E:
i. 09 September 2013


2. Failed to complete statutory carer/reviews within agreed timeframes, including:
a) Case B;
b) Case S;
c) Case A;
d) Case N


3. Destroyed written case notes on Case CN relating to a Foster Carer Assessment for Applicant H.


4. Did not complete an accurate statutory carer/review for Case S, in that you:
a) Duplicated most of the information from a previous Social Worker’s statutory/carer review; and/or
b) Did not record many of your own observations.


5. The matters described in paragraphs 1-4 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.


6. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired. 

Finding

Preliminary matters


Service


1. The HCPC sent a Notice of Hearing to the Registrant’s registered address on 12 May 2016. The Notice set out all the relevant information about today’s proceedings. The Panel was therefore satisfied that service had been effected in accordance with the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence) Committee (Procedure) Rules 2003.

Proceeding in absence and adjournment


2. The Registrant did not attend and no communication had been received from her. Ms Aumeerally applied to have the matter heard in the Registrant’s absence. The grounds for her application were that the Registrant had been served with notice in accordance with the Rules, that the Registrant had failed to engage with the process and it was improbable that if an adjournment was granted the Registrant would attend at the next occasion. The allegations which were found proved were serious and resulted in a suspension order which was the maximum sanction available to the previous Panel. It was in the interests of justice to proceed with this mandatory review.


3. The Panel took advice from the Legal Assessor. The decision to proceed in absence of the Registrant must be exercised with the utmost caution. The Panel were referred to the recent authoritative decision in this area in GMC v Adeogba (2016) EWCA Civ 162 in particular at paragraph 23 which states


The first question which must be addressed in any case such as these is whether all reasonable efforts have been taken to serve the practitioner with notice. That must be considered against the background of the requirement on the part of the practitioner to provide an address for the purposes of registration along with the methods used by the practitioner to communicate with the GMC and the relevant tribunal during the investigative and interlocutory phases of the case. Assuming that the Panel is satisfied about notice, discretion whether or not to proceed must then be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware with fairness to the practitioner being a prime consideration but fairness to the GMC and the interests of the public also taken into account; the criteria for criminal cases must be considered in the context of the different circumstances and different responsibilities of both the GMC and the practitioner

4. The Panel did decide to proceed in the Registrant’s absence essentially for the reasons submitted by the HCPC. The Registrant was on notice of these proceedings having been sent the notice of hearing in mid- May. This was a mandatory review and the Registrant had failed to engage in the proceedings. The allegations found proved were serious and it was in the interests of justice that this review take place today. 

Background:


5. The Registrant commenced her employment with Hertfordshire County Council in December 2000.  At the time of the events with which the Panel has been concerned she was working part-time as a Supervising Social Worker in the Specialist and Safeguarding Service, South Fostering Team.  In this role it was Ms Edmond’s responsibility to ensure that foster carers received the support and supervision they need in order to care properly for the children placed with them.


6. As a result of concerns about her performance, on 12 February 2012 Ms Edmond was put under a formal capability procedure.  During this procedure there was no sustained improvement in her performance.  Following a Performance Capability Hearing on 18 September 2013 she was dismissed from her employment, and an appeal by her against that decision held in November 2013 was unsuccessful.


7. The Registrant did not attend the final hearing and was not represented. The Panel at the final hearing found that the Registrant was persistently late for appointments she had scheduled with the foster carers as alleged in paragraph 1 of the allegation often in excess of an hour. The Panel also found that the Registrant was late in producing the statutory/carer reviews as alleged in paragraph 2. The reports were late by at least 6 months.


8. In respect of the allegation in paragraph 3 the Panel found that the Registrant made visits to a prospective foster carer at her home during the Autumn of 2012.  In early January 2013 the applicant withdrew their application to become a foster carer, and at subsequent supervision meetings held between the Registrant and the team manager on 21 January 2013 and 05 February 2013 there was discussion about notes made by the Registrant during the home visits to the prospective foster carer. The Panel found that the notes made by the Registrant during the home visits were destroyed.


9. In respect of the allegation in paragraph 4a the Panel found that there were substantial passages copied by the Registrant into the report she prepared. It was also satisfied that the report as presented by the Registrant contained inaccuracies.  The Panel stressed that not only were the inaccuracies contained in the report from which the copying was undertaken, but also that they were inaccurate at the time that earlier report was prepared.  It followed from this that by duplicating material the Registrant has perpetuated errors made before her involvement.


10. The previous Panel found that the matters proved amounted to a lack of competence and the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. It made the following findings at paragraphs 25-27 and paragraph 39-40 which are significant for the purposes of today’s hearing:


25. The Panel was given no information about Ms Edmond’s current employment status.  There is no evidence to suggest that she has worked as a Social Worker since September 2013, when she was dismissed by Hertfordshire County Council.


26. The Panel noted that Ms Edmonds had not achieved any demonstrable improvement in her performance despite the various supportive measures taken by her employer.  She lacks insight into the weaknesses in her practice and appears unwilling or unable to accept personal responsibility for her failings.


27. The Panel concluded that Ms Edmond’s lack of competence has not been remediated and, furthermore, there is little evidence to suggest that she is capable of remediation.  Consequently, there is a very high risk of Ms Edmond repeating the errors in her practice.


39. The Panel has no evidence as to Ms Edmond’s current activities, and there is no evidence that she would be either willing or able to comply with conditions of practice.  Furthermore, in view of the continuing and general failings despite the close supervision that took place during the period relevant to the Panel’s enquiry, the Panel is of the view that it would not be possible to formulate conditions that would adequately manage the risk presented by Ms Edmond.  For these reasons a Conditions of Practice Order is not appropriate.

40. The result of these findings is that a Suspension Order is required.  The Panel finds that no other sanction would provide a sufficient degree of protection against the extensive and fundamental failings identified.  Furthermore, no other sanction would serve to uphold proper standards or maintain a sufficient degree of public confidence.  In the judgement of the Panel it is necessary that the Suspension Order should be for a period of 12 months


11. The previous Panel ordered the Registrant to be suspended for 12 months.    

 
Decision


12. In her submissions to the Panel Ms Aumeerally for the HCPC reminded the Panel of the findings of the previous Panel at the final hearing in June 2015. That Panel had found serious failings in relation to a number of areas of practice. Although that Panel had not made any specific recommendations to the Registrant in order to assist in her efforts to remedy the impairment in her fitness to practice it was clearly open to the Registrant to take it upon herself to address the identified failings. This she had singularly failed to do. The HCPC submitted that the only appropriate sanction was that of a further 1 year suspension order. Ms Aumeerally also suggested that in anticipation of a future review it may be of benefit to all parties if this Panel were to provide some specific guidance to the Registrant on steps that could be taken to address impairment.

 
13. This Panel has taken into account all documentation placed before it. It has heard the HCPC’s 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 suspension order to lapse, extend or further extend it by a period up to one year or replace it with any sanction that could have been made at the time of the substantive hearing.


14. The Panel had no doubt that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The Registrant has failed to engage with the regulatory process and essentially nothing has changed since the final hearing. At that hearing the Panel found extensive deficiencies in the Registrant’s practice across a range of areas, over a period of time and impacting on a number of people. If the Registrant wishes to remain in practise her on going failure to engage with this Regulator is difficult to explain.


15. 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 and the wider public interest. Allowing the current Suspension 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 has failed to engage with the process and has therefore not demonstrated any insight or efforts to address the impairment in her practice previously identified.


16. The Panel gave careful consideration as to whether a Conditions of Practice Order could be the proportionate and the appropriate measure at this time. The Panel is of the view that a Conditions of Practice Order would neither be proportionate nor appropriate. The Panel has no knowledge of the Registrant’s current circumstances and would therefore be in difficulties formulating relevant, workable and realistic conditions for the Registrant. In addition, given the lack of engagement, the Panel could not be confident that the Registrant was ready, willing and able to comply with conditions. In any event, certainly on the evidence the Panel currently has before it, such an Order would not be proportionate in terms of adequate public protection.


17. Accordingly the only appropriate order is a Suspension Order and in this case the Panel makes an Order for a further 12 months.


18. The Panel is of the view that the failings identified by the previous Panel are remediable and agrees that some guidance in respect of how the Registrant could do this would be of benefit at this stage. If the Registrant wishes to remain in practise a future Panel reviewing this order may be assisted by the following:


a) A written reflective piece fully addressing the failings identified at the substantive hearing. In particular she may wish to consider paragraph 18 of the previous Panels determination identifying the standards of proficiency that were breached, how they came to be breached and how the Registrant intends to meet those standards in the future


b) An account of any training and/or retraining course undertaken as well as continuing professional development


c) Provide examples of how such training or retraining has been put into practice in contexts analogous to those of social work.


19. The above recommendations are simply guidance and in no way are to be seen as binding either the Registrant or a further Reviewing Panel. This Order will be reviewed prior to its expiry at which point all sanctions will be available to the Panel up to and including removal from the Register

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Julie Ann Edmond for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

This Order will be reviewed before it expires.  

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Ms Julie Ann Edmond

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
22/09/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
22/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
16/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
24/06/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended