Ms Sally Caroline Parker

: Social worker

: SW84865

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 16/05/2017 End: 12:30 16/05/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Hearing has not yet been held

Allegation

Allegation:


(The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 20 – 21 June 2013):

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

Preliminary Matters:


Service

1. The Panel had sight of the notice of hearing which had been sent to the Registrant’s registered address on 11 April 2017 and determined that service had been properly complied with in accordance with the requirements of the Health and Care Professions Council Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).

Proceeding in absence


2. Ms Owusu-Akyem urged the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. She submitted that to do so was in the public interest as the current order expires on 31 May 2017.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who took the Panel to Rule 11 and to the guidance given in the cases of R v Jones (2003) 1 AC 1 and Tait –v The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [2003] UKPC 34. She drew the attention of the Panel to a file note dated 27 April 2017 of a conversation between the Registrant and the HCPC case officer and an email from the Registrant dated 8 May 2017, both of which are detailed below, and to a letter that had been sent in to the HCPC by the Registrant from The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals dated 27 April 2017 confirming that a date had been booked for the Registrant to undergo an operation on Monday 15 May 2017. She reminded the Panel of the passage in the judgment in Jones in which it was said that: “A defendant afflicted by involuntary illness or incapacity will have much stronger grounds for resisting the continuance of a trial than one who has voluntarily chosen to abscond”.


4. The Panel considered the file note dated 27 April 2017 of the telephone conversation between the Registrant and a representative of the HCPC in which the Registrant explained that she was going into hospital on 15 May 2017 to have an operation and “would not be able to attend…. She said that if she would attend it would be by telephone anyways. She said that essentially, nothing has changed since last year and still remains working as a Cognitive Analytic Therapist”. The HCPC representative enquired whether the Registrant had considered voluntary removal from the register. A discussion ensued, following which the Registrant asked “if she should write to us explaining her current situation and it could be put before the panel”. The HCPC representative confirmed that would be best and asked the Registrant to provide a copy of the letter confirming the hospital appointment on 15 May 2017. The file note continued “I also explained that because of her appointment she could make an application for the hearing to be adjourned so that she could attend by telephone in future…..She thanked me and said she would be contacting her consultant in order to get a letter confirming that her hospital appointment and forward it to us. She said though that the information she wanted to provide was all she would want to say to the panel at the hearing in any event so she did not think that she may need the hearing to be adjourned and it could go ahead without her. I said that was fine but reminded her that the panel would be able to see any information she had provided but they would not be able to ask her any questions they had about her current situation. She said she would think about it and get back to me but would send the letter confirming her appointment as soon as she could”.

5. The Panel was also provided with an email from the Registrant dated 8 May 2017 stating: “Further to my conversation with you on 27 April 2017, in reference to my forthcoming FTP review, scheduled for the 16 May 2017, I firstly submit the attached letter to verify my inability to be present and therefore also my wish to defer this review, if appropriate, in light of my request below, due to my attending hospital to undergo a small operation on Monday 15 May.

After some careful consideration and due to a number of factors, I have reached a decision to request a “Disposal by Consent” of my case and hope that this can now be considered by the HCPC”. 


Panel’s decision on proceeding in absence


6. The Panel considered whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.  It took into account the submissions of the Presenting Officer and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.  It also took account of the telephone file notes dated 27 April 2017 and the email from the Registrant dated 8 May 2017.  The Panel noted the letter attached to the email from the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which confirmed that the Registrant was undergoing a hospital operation on 15 May 2017.

7. In the file note dated 27 April 2017, the Registrant stated that, ‘… essentially, nothing has changed since last year and still remains working as a Cognitive Analytic Therapist.’  She also stated that the information she wanted to provide was all she would want to say to the Panel at the hearing.  The Registrant did not request an adjournment during this telephone conversation.

8. In the email dated 8 May 2017, the Registrant, having considered information sent to her by the HCPC in relation to ‘Consensual Disposal’, indicated that she wished to defer the review, if appropriate, as she could not attend “due to my attending hospital”.  She stated that she wished to defer the hearing: ‘After careful consideration and due to a number of factors, I have reached a decision to request a “Disposal by Consent” of my case and hope this can now be considered by the HCPC.’

9. The Panel considered that the request for deferment made by the Registrant related to the Panel considering “Disposal by Consent” and that the Registrant was not applying for an adjournment of this Substantive Review. 

10. The Panel concluded that whilst an adjournment was likely to result in the attendance of the Registrant at a later date, the Panel had been informed that rescheduling the hearing before the expiry of the order was highly unlikely.


11. The Panel noted that the Registrant has previously attended by telephone but noted that she has no new information to put before the Panel in relation to the Conditions of Practice Order.

12. The Panel considered that this is a mandatory review of a Conditions of Practice Order which expires on 31 May 2017 and bore in mind the public interest in the expeditious disposal of the case. The Panel determined to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.  In coming to this decision, it took account of the mandatory requirement to review the order and that nothing had changed in terms of the Registrant’s practice since the last review.


Background:


13. In 1998 the Registrant qualified as a Social Worker and then commenced work with Hampshire County Council as a Mental Health Social Worker. In 2005 she became an Approved Mental Health Professional which authorised her to carry out assessments for detention under the Mental Health Act.


14. 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. An allegation of lack of competence was brought, based on her poor record keeping in relation to care plans, crisis plans, reports and/or risk assessments, her failure to maintain regular contact with service users and her failure to discharge service users in a timely manner.


15. At the substantive hearing in June 2013, the Registrant admitted the allegation in its entirety.


16. The substantive Panel concluded that whilst the Registrant’s shortcomings were serious, she was a committed social worker with a previous unblemished record and 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 Panel therefore imposed a Conditions of Practice Order designed to remove undue stress from the Registrant’s practice and to enable a future reviewing Panel to see how she performed with regard to record keeping in those circumstances.


17. At the first review of the order, on 19 November 2014, the Registrant informed the Panel that she had been working as a Cognitive Analytic Therapist (CAT) on a weekly sessional basis with a wide range of service users. She provided documentary evidence of the work that she had done, including testimonials, correspondence between herself, Service Users and other professionals, together with a personal statement. She argued that her work had helped her to address some of the issues that had formed the basis of the allegation, such as record-keeping, and that her work often entailed a degree of risk assessment and management, similar to that required within a Community Mental Health Team. However, she accepted that she had been unable to comply with the Conditions of Practice in full because she had not worked as a Social Worker, and that there were areas of practice which needed to be addressed before she could return to practice. She accepted that in order to resume social work practice she would need to undertake a graduated reintroduction into the workplace. She identified a possible need for regular supervision, together with support working with computerised recordkeeping systems.


18. The Panel concluded that the steps taken by the Registrant were insufficient to remedy her lack of competence, because her practice had not been tested within the pressurised environment of a Social Worker. The Panel concluded that with the right support and supervision, and with a phased and supervised return to the workplace, the Registrant may safely return to practice at some future time. The Panel varied the Conditions of Practice Order.

19. At the second review on 31 May 2016 the Registrant informed the Panel that she was continuing to work as a CAT and evidenced work and training in that field. She had still not undertaken any actual social work nor had she undertaken any continuing professional development specific to social work, nor had she undertaken any return to practice courses. The Panel concluded that whilst the CAT role allowed the Registrant 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 Panel concluded that 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 trial period of time.


20. The Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction and that with the right support and supervision, and with a phased and supervised return to the workplace, it may be possible for the Registrant return to unrestricted practice at some future time.


21. The Panel of 31 May 2016 imposed the following Conditions of Practice:

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.


22. Ms Owusu-Akyem urged the Panel to extend the existing order by 3 to 4 months to provide the Registrant with the opportunity to apply for Voluntary Removal. She provided the Panel with a copy of a letter dated 12 May 2017 that had been sent to the Registrant in which the HCPC asked the Registrant to confirm that she wished to enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement.


Decision


23. The Panel comprehensively reviewed all the evidence before it. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


24. The Panel noted that there appears to be some indication that the Registrant may apply for Voluntary Removal from the Register. However, it decided that this is a matter to be considered when and if any application is received by the HCPC.


25. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The Panel noted that the CAT role undertaken by the Registrant has allowed her to demonstrate previously some of the competencies that would be required of a Social Worker. However, the Panel considered that this is far from testing her practice, working as Social Worker in a social work environment. The Panel is firmly of the view that the Registrant needs to demonstrate competency in a Social Worker role, which she has not. Further, the Panel noted that it is now some 5 years since the Registrant last worked as a Social Worker.


26. The Panel questioned whether to make no further order or whether to impose a Caution Order but concluded that neither would be appropriate in light of the seriousness of the allegation.


27. The Panel went on to consider what restrictions on the Registrant’s practise are appropriate and proportionate to protect Service Users and the public interest. In doing so, it has balanced the Registrant’s interests in returning to practise with public protection and the wider public interest.


28. The Panel carefully considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order remained proportionate and appropriate and determined that it was. The Registrant has engaged with the process and has previously indicated that she wishes to return to practice.


29. The Panel makes it clear that any Conditions of Practice can only be met by the Registrant working as a Social Worker.


30. The Panel decided to vary the current Conditions of Practice order by varying the number of days in Condition 5 from “30” to “60” to take account of the fact that the Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker for some 5 years.


31. The Panel decided to extend the order for a period of 12 months to allow the Registrant to demonstrate compliance with the Conditions. or seek Voluntary Removal from the register should she choose to do so.


32. However, if the Registrant gains suitable employment, and complies with the Conditions, and produces evidence that she has adequately fulfilled those Conditions, then she is at liberty to request an early review of the Conditions of Practice Order pursuant to Article 30(2).

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to vary the Conditions of Practice Order against the registration of Ms Sally Caroline Parker for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order. The Conditions are:

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   60   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.

The order imposed today will apply from 31 May 2017.

Notes

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 31 May 2018.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Ms 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