Miss Nichola Taylor

: Social worker

: SW18175

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 22/06/2016 End: 17:00 22/06/2016

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

: Health Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

Your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired by reason of your physical and/or mental health.

Finding

Preliminary matters

1. The Panel was satisfied that notice of the hearing today had been properly served on the Registrant.

2. The Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. In this respect the Panel took into account that an earlier review on 8 June 2016 had been adjourned at the Registrant’s request because she was on holiday. The Registrant had also queried why the review was not taking place in Manchester as the Final hearing had. She had been advised by the HCPC in an email dated 17 May 2016 that she should provide evidence of financial hardship to support an application for the hearing to be held in Manchester. She could also request to attend by telephone. There had been no response from the Registrant to this communication. The Panel further noted that the evidence listed in the decision of the original Panel at paragraph 55 could have been submitted in writing for this review. This was a mandatory review and it was in the public interest that it should proceed today given that the current order expires on 8 July 2016. The Panel finds that the Registrant has waived her right to attend and a fair hearing can take place in her absence today.

3. The HCPC applied for this review hearing to be heard in private so as to protect the private life of the Registrant, under rule 10(1)(a) of the Health Professions Council (Health Committee) (Procedure) Rules, 2003. The Panel was advised to consider the HCPC Practice Note entitled “Conducting Hearings in Private”. The Panel decided that as this review today primarily relates to the Registrant’s health, it should be conducted in private.  As such this is a redacted version of a private decision.

4. This is a mandatory review of the suspension order made at a hearing from 8 to 11 June 2015, when the following allegation was found proved:

 Your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired by reason of your physical  and/or mental health, as described in schedule A. 

Background

5. The Registrant started work at Salford City Council (SCC) on 2 July 2012 as a Grade 4A Social Worker in the Adult Safeguarding Review and Extra Care Team based within the Community Health and Social Care Department.  She was employed on a fixed term contract (for twelve months) which was due to expire on the 3 July 2013.

6. On 20 September 2012, the Registrant informed her line manager, AB, that due to a health issue her driving licence was being revoked from Monday 24 September 2012. 

7. Between 4 October 2012 and 8 October 2012, the Registrant had a period of sickness absence.  She would not disclose the nature of the illness to SCC.

8. Around this time concerns arose about the Registrant’s ability to carry out her duties, in particular unexplained periods of time spent away from her desk. 

9. The Registrant was told to go home sick and seek advice from her GP.

10. The Registrant was off sick for several months during which time three Sickness Absence Review Meetings were held in held in line with SCC’s Attendance Management Policy. The Registrant was eventually signed fit to return to work and began a phased return from 25 March 2013. The Registrant left SCC at the end of her fixed term contract on 2 July 2013.

Findings of the original panel

11. The Panel had concerns about the true level of insight that the Registrant had gained into the nature of her condition and the need for disclosure and had determined that her fitness to practise was impaired and that a Suspension Order was required.

Decision of the review panel

12. Article 30(1) of the 2001 Order provides that before the expiry of the suspension order currently in force, this matter shall be reviewed. The Panel today may with effect from the date on which the order expires, extend, or further extend the period for which the order has effect, or make an order which could have made at the time the order being reviewed was made. This Panel cannot go behind the findings of the previous Panel. The Panel has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice, to exercise the principle of proportionality and had regard to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.

13. The Panel finds the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired for the following reasons:

• There has been no change in the Registrant’s circumstances, so far as the  Panel is aware, since the Order was made in June 2015.

• A further report from Dr Colgan has not yet been obtained by the HCPC.

• No further information has been supplied by the Registrant.

14. Given its finding of continuing impairment the Panel determined that the Registrant’s ability to practice as a Social Worker should continue to be restricted to protect the public and in her own interests.

15. Due to the lack of information concerning her current employment Conditions of Practice cannot be formulated which are appropriate, workable, measurable and relevant to the Registrant.

16. Her health condition does not, in any event, necessarily lend itself to conditions of practice.

17. A further suspension for 6 months, as proposed by the HCPC today, will enable a further medical report from Dr Colgan to be obtained and further evidence from the Registrant to be supplied.

18. Therefore the current suspension order is extended for a period of 6 months.

19. This Panel considers that a future reviewing Panel would be assisted by evidence produced by the Registrant of all, or any, of the following:

• That she has continued to adhere to her treatment plan as directed by her health team.

• Evidence of any further insight gained by her into the nature of her health condition, or the ways in which her health condition manifested itself during the period 2011 to 2013.

• Evidence of further professional reading and learning.

• Evidence of courses attended relevant to the social work profession.

• Confirmation from any new employer that the Registrant has explained her health condition at the time of taking up her position.

• Evidence of any work undertaken within a social care environment.


20. Before the next review of this suspension order the HCPC is to secure a further report from Dr Colgan to include:

• An assessment of the Registrant’s present health condition.

• The extent of the Registrant’s compliance with her treatment plan.

• The Registrant’s current level of insight into her health condition.

• The Registrant’s ability to manage her health condition

• The Registrant’s current prognosis.

21. The HCPC is requested to be mindful of the Registrant’s circumstances in its discussions with her and to act in a timely fashion to facilitate the most appropriate scheduling and venue for the next review hearing.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Miss Nichola Taylor for a further period of 6 months on expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The order will be reviewed before its expiry 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Nichola Taylor

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/11/2017 Health Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
22/12/2016 Health Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
22/06/2016 Health Committee Review Hearing Suspended
08/06/2015 Health Committee Final Hearing Suspended