Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew

: Social worker

: SW00690

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 18/05/2017 End: 12:00 18/05/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

As found at the final hearing which concluded on 21 May 2014

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), between 1 June 2011 and December 2012 you:

1. Did not submit your Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) portfolio due on 5 November 2012.

2. Did not adequately plan and manage your workload in that you:

a) did not complete the case closures identified in July 2012 in 10 of your 33 cases;

b) Not proved

c) did not file your reports in time allow for reflection, learning and development.

3.Not proved

4. The matters described in paragraphs 1 to 3 constitute lack of competence.

5. By reason of your lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was satisfied that there had been good service of the Notice of Hearing by a letter dated 10 April 2017.

Proceeding in absence

2. The Panel heard a submission from Ms Willmann on behalf of the HCPC to proceed in the absence of the Registrant under Rule 11 of the Rules. The Registrant sent an e-mail to the HCPC dated 4 May 2017 in which she stated that she had received the Notice of Hearing and that she will not be attending. She submitted a written statement.

3. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice to take account of the relevant Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel took account of the Registrant’s e-mail dated 4 May 2017 and noted that it was clear that she was aware of the proceedings and that her absence was voluntary. The Panel also noted the need for expedition in determining this mandatory review. The Panel decided it was fair, proportionate and in the public interest to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

Background

5. The Registrant was employed by CAFCASS from September 2010 and commenced a three-year Newly Qualified Social Worker (NQSW) training programme in June 2011. She was required to complete a portfolio of evidence at the end of the first year of the programme but failed to do so then or by the extended deadline, following further extensions of time. When she did submit her paperwork, it fell below the required standards. CAFCASS also identified that the Registrant was failing to close cases, and was not filing court reports in time. The matter was referred to a formal capability meeting on 5 December 2012, which resulted in the Registrant being dismissed on the grounds of lack of capability.

6. The concerns of the Registrant’s former employer were referred to the HCPC, resulting in the current proceedings. A final hearing of the allegations referred to above took place before a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee on 20-21 May 2014. The Registrant did not attend that hearing but admitted the facts alleged in particulars 1, 2a, and 2c, which the Panel found proved. That Panel decided that the proven facts constituted lack of competence. The Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired and imposed a Suspension Order for a period of 9 months, which it considered was proportionate to the lack of competence found and would give the Registrant sufficient time to remedy the deficiencies in her practice.

7. The Registrant was advised that the reviewing Panel was likely to be assisted by evidence of remediation and, in particular, a reflective statement on the outcome of the proceedings and the extent to which she had changed her behaviour and developed her insight. The Registrant was also advised that her attendance at the review hearing would be helpful and details of any training undertaken, employment references, and other steps to remedy her deficiencies.

8. The case was first reviewed on 27 January 2015. That Panel heard from the Presenting Officer and from the Registrant who had provided a written piece as previously requested. The Registrant stated that she was not currently working in a paid or voluntary capacity and she was unaware of the need to maintain her CPD. That Panel found that the Registrant’s insight was limited and she had not taken any significant steps to remediate her practice. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired and extended the Suspension Order for a further 9 months.

9. The Suspension Order was reviewed on 14 August 2015. The Registrant gave evidence to the reviewing Panel. At that time she was working as a Healthcare Assistant at York District Hospital. She stated that she wished to return to social work practice. She presented a portfolio of her work and training. The review Panel found that although some of her skills were transferable to social work the Registrant’s role was limited and that her fitness to practise was still impaired. Further remediation was required and the Registrant’s insight was still developing. The Panel decided that the appropriate sanction was a Conditions of Practice Order. The conditions required the Registrant to undertake training, to attend monthly supervision, and to formulate a Personal Development Plan.

10. Since December 2012 the Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker and therefore has not been required to submit evidence of compliance with the Conditions of Practice.

11. The Legal Assessor advised that there is a persuasive burden upon the Registrant to demonstrate that she has addressed the past impairment. The Panel has to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, and, if so, the appropriate and proportionate sanction.

12. Ms Willmann submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired and that the appropriate sanction was a Striking Off Order.

Decision

13. In her written statement the Registrant states that, on further reflection, she has decided “to leave the field of social work and use my skills and knowledge elsewhere”. The Registrant refers to her anxiety of making further errors and the stress of the HCPC proceedings.

14. The Registrant states that she has been employed since April 2015 at York Hospital as a Health Care Assistant. In January 2017 she gained promotion to be an Ophthalmic Support Technician in the eye clinic. The Registrant has undergone further training and she states that she is happy in her current role. The Registrant adds that she is aware that her name could be removed from the register and that she has considered the implications.

15. The Panel considered all the documentary evidence and referred to the HCPC Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practice is Impaired”.

16. The Panel noted that the Registrant has remained working within a caring profession and that some of her skills are transferable to the social work profession. In the Registrant’s written statement there is some evidence of remediation. However, the Registrant has not provided details of the training she has undertaken. The information is limited and there is no evidence of remediation in the specific deficiencies identified by the previous Panel in time management, prioritisation of workload, or caseload management.

17. The Panel decided that there remains a risk of repetition and the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. Additionally there remains impairment on the public component in the need to protect service users and to uphold the standards expected of social workers.

18. The Panel next considered what sanction, if any, should be placed on the Registrant’s registration. The Panel applied the guidance in the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” and considered the sanctions in ascending order of seriousness. The Panel decided that sanctions of no further action, mediation or the imposition of a Caution Order are not appropriate because they would not give sufficient protection to service users.

19. The Panel’s view was that there had been little significant change in either the Registrant’s remediation or the level of her insight since the last review on 14 August 2015. The Registrant’s position has changed in that she now has decided not to work as a Social Worker at the current time. The Registrant is currently content with her position and the opportunities available to her at York Hospital. It appeared to the Panel that although the Registrant may have decided not to practise as a Social Worker, that she may nevertheless have an interest in retaining her current registration. It appeared to the Panel that the Registrant may not have received information (including from the HCPC) on options that might be available to her. The Panel took the Registrant’s interest into account in its determination and assessment of proportionality of the sanction.

20. The Panel’s view was that the current risk to the public is satisfied by the current Conditions of Practice Order. There is no ongoing risk if the Registrant remains in her current employment and does not practise as a Social Worker. If the Registrant were to change her mind and return to practise, the Panel’s view was that the current conditions provide sufficient protection for service users, taking into account the Registrant’s current level of insight.

21. The Panel’s view was that the current Conditions of Practice adequately protect the public interest. They provide a sufficient measure of protection for service users and they are sufficient to maintain public confidence in the profession.

22. The Panel considered the more serious sanctions of a Suspension Order or a Striking-Off Order. The Panel decided that they were currently disproportionate, taking into account the Registrant’s interests. The Panel did not consider that the Registrant’s decision not to currently seek work in the social work profession was, by itself, a sufficient reason for increasing the severity of the sanction.

23. The Panel therefore decided that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is to extend the current Conditions of Practice Order.

24. The Panel considered that the appropriate length of time for the extension of the Order is six months. This period gives an opportunity for the Registrant to further consider her interests and to obtain information on any options which may be available to her.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of six months from the date this Order comes into effect (“the Operative date”) you, Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew, must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. Within the first 6 months of obtaining a social work post, you must ensure that you undertake specific training on:

A. Time management;

B. Meeting deadlines;

C. Workload prioritisation;

D. Refresher training in your chosen field of social work.

2. You must submit to the HCPC evidence of the training as per condition 1 within 14 days of its successful completion.

3. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a supervisor registered by the HCPC and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 14 days of commencing a role in a social work post.

4. You must ensure that you attend monthly supervision with your supervisor and proactively use it to discuss your practice and follow their advice and recommendations.

5. You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan (PDP) designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practice:

A. Time management;

B. Prioritisation of workload;

C. Caseload management;

D. As part of your PDP, you are further to:

i) Evidence professional development of your practise within your chosen field of social work;

ii) Evidence the updating of your PDP;

iii) Evidence maintenance of a reflective practice log, in particular to cover the concerns identified by the Panels in their previous findings.

6. You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your PDP. You must obtain a report from your supervisor, commenting on your overall performance and practice, to be sent to the HCPC not less than 14 days before the review of this Order.

7. You must submit evidence to the HCPC of the successful completion of your Care Certificate portfolio.

8. You must provide successful completion of casework from a range of cases within your chosen social work field, showing how you have proactively managed your cases in a timely manner. This must be provided not less than 14 days before the review of this order.

9. 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); and

C. any prospective employer (at the time of your application). 

Notes

This order will be reviewed by the Committee no later than 18 December 2017 or earlier if new evidence which is relevant to the Order becomes available after it was made.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Rebecca Jane Andrew

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
17/11/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
18/05/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
14/08/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
27/01/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
20/05/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended