Ms Iva Le Gourrierec

: Social worker

: SW50351

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 27/04/2017 End: 17:00 28/04/2017

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

: Health Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

Your fitness to practise as a Social Worker is impaired by reason of your health.

Finding

Preliminary matters:
Hearing in private:
1. The Panel is sitting as a Health Committee.  Counsel on behalf of the HCPC submitted that it was appropriate for the hearing to be held in private and this was the Registrant’s preference also.  The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and decided that given matters exclusively dealt with the health of the Registrant, that the entirety of the proceedings would be held in private to protect the private life of the Registrant.
Background:
2. The Registrant was working as a Registered Social Worker with Islington Council between 2008 and 2015.  In 2012-2013, the Registered experienced ill health and visited her General Practitioner.  She was signed off work between April and June 2013.  In June 2014, symptoms arose which the Registrant identified as not being normal.  The Registrant spoke to her employer and was taken to A&E. In Autumn 2014, the Registrant was prescribed medication.  
Decision on Facts:
3. The Panel heard oral evidence from Dr B, and had sight of his Expert Report.  In addition, evidence was provided by the Registrant of the treatment she had received and was currently under. 
4. The Panel found the facts proved in their entirety.
Decision on Grounds:
5. The Panel found that the Registrant’s health condition satisfied the statutory ground of health.
Evidence and Submissions on Impairment
6. The Panel heard oral evidence under oath from the Registrant who wanted to explain the circumstances. She pointed out that she herself had sought assistance when worried about her health.
7. Ms Watts submitted to the Panel that fitness to practise concerns arise as a consequence of the Registrant’s health.  She said this was a judgement for the Panel and HCPC does not present evidence on this point.  She invited the Panel to have regard to the Practice Notice on Finding Impairment insofar as it is relevant.
8. In terms of a risk of repetition of ill health, she reminded the Panel of the need to address public protection.  She concluded that while there is some evidence that the Registrant is fit to practise as a social worker, the risk that subsists does require a finding of impairment.
9. The Registrant made no closing submissions but indicated that she did not believe that her fitness to practise was currently impaired.
Panel Decision:
10. In considering impairment, the Panel has taken into account that the purpose of these procedures is not to punish a Registrant for past difficulties but to protect the public against Registrants who are not fit to practise without restriction. The Panel is encouraged that the Registrant informed her managers on becoming unwell and in that way protected service users. The Panel were similarly pleased to note that the Registrant has engaged with medical professionals. However, the Registrant has not returned to working as a social worker and accordingly her resilience has not been tested. In making a decision as regards impairment, the Panel found that matters were finely balanced.
11. The Panel noted that the Registrant had taken care not to cause unnecessary harm and in this way had exhibited regard for service users. The Panel accepted that the Registrant was going through a particularly difficult time.
12. The Panel finds that a risk remains and that there are current concerns relating to the Registrant’s fitness to practice without restriction.
13. Having regard to the critically important public policy issues, in the Panel’s assessment the Registrant’s current fitness to practise remains impaired. There is a need to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession and a finding of impaired fitness to practise is needed for these reasons.
14. Accordingly the Council’s case is well founded.
Decision on Sanction:
15. In considering what sanction, if any, to impose, the Panel has taken account of the submissions made by Ms Watts and the Registrant and the advice of the Legal Assessor.  Ms Watts has said that the decision on what sanction, if any, to be imposed, is a matter for the Panel, and shared her observation that conditions may be most appropriate in a health case where there has been engagement with healthcare professionals.  The Registrant submitted that she would adhere to any conditions that were imposed in relation to her health.
16. The Panel has taken into account the explanation advanced by the Registrant.  Some insight was demonstrated by her presenting herself to managers, explaining that she was not well and needed medical help.
17. The Panel has identified the risk that the Registrant poses and seeks to address that in the least restrictive way that still allows adequate public protection. The concern was solely one of the Registrant’s health and there was no issue whatsoever that had been identified about the Registrant’s competence as a social worker.
18. The Panel has referred to the Indicative Sanctions Policy in arriving at a decision.  
19. In view of the seriousness of the case, to take no further action would not be appropriate as it fails to address the risks of practising without restriction.
20. Mediation was discounted as this is not a process which requires resolution between two parties. 
21. The imposition of a caution order was considered but discounted as this is not a case where a caution would be sufficient or appropriate to manage the risk that the Panel has identified.
22. The Panel went on to consider the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order in terms of addressing the concerns identified in reaching its decision on Impairment.  The risks are threefold, and involve a) disengaging with medical treatment, b) failing to identify where there is a deterioration in health, and c) the wider public interest. The Panel was of the view that there are appropriate conditions of practice to address these.
23. The Panel did consider a Suspension Order but reasoned that a Conditions of Practice Order adequately addresses the risk identified by the Registrant. In addition, suspension would be disproportionate.
24. The Panel is confident that the Registrant will keep in mind her professional obligations, including Standard 12 of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics:
“You must limit your work, or stop practising, if your performance or judgement is affected by your health.”
25. The Panel does not think it proportionate to limit the scope of the Registrant’s practice in terms of area or specialism. Providing that the Registrant maintains contact with her healthcare professionals, the Panel is reassured, on the basis of her past conduct and openness with her managers that she will continue to apply professional competence and judgement.  The Conditions provide a necessary framework for this.
26. The Panel decided that the appropriate period of the order was 12 months, to allow time for the Registrant to find employment and demonstrate her ability to cope in the role.
27. The order will be reviewed shortly before expiry. The reviewing Panel may be assisted by the following information:
a) Up to date medical report from the Registrant’s general practitioner;
b) If she has obtained employment (whether paid or unpaid), a reference from her employer.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 12 months, from the date that this Order comes into effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Ms Iva Le Gourrierec must comply with the following conditions of practice:
1. You must remain under the care of a general practitioner and inform them that you are subject to these conditions.
2. You must inform your general practitioner about these conditions of practice and authorise them to provide the HCPC with information about your health and any treatment that you are receiving.
3. You must follow the advice and recommendations of your general practitioner.
4. You must keep your professional commitments under review and limit your professional practice in accordance with the advice of your general practitioner.
5. You must cease practising immediately if you are advised to do so by your general practitioner.
6. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
a. Any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;
b. Any agency you are registered with, or apply to be registered with, (at the time of application);
c. Any prospective employer engaging you in a role requiring registration as a social worker (at the time of your application).
7. You will be responsible for meeting any costs associated with the production of any information referenced in condition 2 above.

Notes

Interim Order:
The Panel makes an Interim Conditions of Practice Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest.  This order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.
The Interim Conditions of Practice mirror the conditions set out above.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Ms Iva Le Gourrierec

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
27/04/2017 Health Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice