Ms Carol Ann Gould

: Social worker

: SW73045

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 22/06/2017 End: 12:30 22/06/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

While registered as a Social Worker, between 18 November 2010 and 19 March 2013:

1. You were employed by Benecare between 4 January 2011 and 12 November 2012 and you:

a. Did not communicate effectively with colleagues and/or foster parents and/or third parties in that:

i. You did not respond in a timely manner or at all to emails and other communications such as telephone calls and text messages;

ii. You did not attend a scheduled meeting with Foster Carer B on or around 28 September 2012;

iii. (Not proved)

b. (Not proved)

c. Did not consistently create or maintain records in relation to the foster carers you supervised.

2. You were employed by Kaleidoscope between 19 February 2013 and 19 March 2013 and you:

a. Did not carry out a risk assessment in relation to placing child 1 prior to placing him with Foster Carer D;

b. You lost the annual review paperwork for Foster Carer E;

c. You lost the initial screening visit (ISV) paperwork in respect of two foster carers;

d. You did not create records of your supervision with foster carers.

3. The matters described in paragraphs 1-2 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary matters

Proof of Service

1. The Panel had sight of a letter sent to the Registrant, on 23 May 2017, at the address recorded on the HCPC register, giving notice of today’s hearing. The Panel was also provided with an email sent by the Registrant to the HCPC on 1 June 2017 stating: “Thank you for your correspondence. I will not be attending the HCPC hearing as I no longer intend to practise as a Social Worker”.

2. It was clear from the papers that the Registrant no longer resides at the address recorded on the register.  The Panel had sight of an HCPC file note dated 7 September 2016 which indicated that the Registrant had been informed of the correct procedure to follow to change her registered address by contacting the Registration department. The Panel was informed that the Registrant had followed that correct procedure in January 2015 when she had previously changed address. The Panel also had sight of a letter, dated 13 August 2016, written by the Registrant, which appeared to have been handed to the HCPC at the last review hearing, in which the Registrant informed the HCPC: “I moved house in March 2015. Please note the new address at the top of this letter for your records”. It was accepted on behalf of the HCPC that this point had been missed and they had not followed it up.

3. The Panel concluded that Rule 3 had been complied with because service had been effected at the Registrant’s registered address. The Panel acknowledged that there had in practice been difficulties surrounding service of the notice of hearing in paper form on the Registrant at a postal address. The Panel concluded however, that no unfairness had resulted from these difficulties. The Registrant was clearly aware of today’s proceedings, as evidenced by her email dated 1 June 2017, and it appeared from this that she had received the relevant correspondence by email. The Panel therefore found good service.

Proceeding in absence

4. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, who took the Panel to the Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant, to Rule 11 and to the guidance given in the cases of R –v- Jones [2003] 1 AC 1, Tait v The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [2003] UKPC 34 and GMC –v- Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

5. The Panel was also provided with a copy of an email sent by the Registrant to the HCPC on 1 June 2017 stating: “I will not be attending the HCPC hearing as I no longer intend to practise as a Social Worker”.

6. The Panel had concluded that the Registrant had been served with the notice of hearing by means of email. The Panel concluded from the contents of the email sent by the Registrant that she had absented herself voluntarily from the proceedings. She had not applied to adjourn the proceedings and the Panel concluded that it was unlikely that she would attend if the matter were to be adjourned. The Registrant’s non- attendance was not to her disadvantage as she had stated in her email that she no longer intended to practise as a social worker. The Panel bore in mind that it was in the public interest to hear cases expeditiously. Accordingly, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

 Background

7. Ms Gould qualified as a Social Worker in 2003.

8. The Panel heard that between 4 January 2011 and 12 November 2012 she was employed by Benecare Fostering Ltd as a Supervising Social Worker in the area of foster care, and that she took on a management role in May 2011. She resigned from this post in mid-November 2012.

9. It was alleged that in that time the Registrant had failed to respond to a number of emails, telephone calls and text messages sent by colleagues and/or foster parents and/or third parties, and had failed to create or maintain records in relation to the foster carers she was supervising on a consistent basis.

10. In February 2013 the Registrant obtained a post with Kaleidoscope Therapeutic Child Care as a locum supervisor. This post lasted for no more than a month due to dissatisfaction with the Registrant’s performance.

11. It was alleged that in that time the Registrant had failed to carry out a risk assessment in relation to a child before placing him with a foster carer. Further, she lost important paperwork and had failed to make formal records of supervision sessions with foster carers.

12. The substantive panel, having found the facts as set out above proved, concluded that the Registrant’s behaviour amounted to lack of competence. The substantive panel gave an indication of a need on the part of the Registrant to demonstrate that she had remedied her shortcomings. It noted that although the Registrant had demonstrated remorse she had demonstrated very little insight and concluded that there was a “strong possibility of recurrence”.

13. The first reviewing panel found that the Registrant remained impaired and that she had not reflected on the previous panel’s findings and had not addressed its recommendations. That Panel decided to suspend the Registrant from practise for a further 9 months to enable her to update her CPD and undertake any appropriate training courses. It indicated that: “any future panel may be assisted by evidence from the Registrant to confirm any training and CPD undertaken together with a reflective piece of writing to demonstrate that the Registrant is fully aware of the gravity of the shortcomings that were found proved”.

Decision

14. This Panel considered the issues carefully. It listened to and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It paid attention to the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy and noted that all sanctions were available to the Panel with the exception of a Striking Off Order.

15. The Panel concluded that the Registrant remained impaired by reason of her lack of competence. The Panel had not been provided with any new information since the last hearing date, save for the email of 1 June 2017. Whilst the Panel accepted that the matters found proved were remediable, there had been no evidence of remediation placed before the Panel. The Registrant had not provided any evidence of any further training or CPD undertaken, nor any reflective piece, nor had she engaged with the hearing by attending this review hearing. There was no evidence that she had developed insight. There was no reason to think that she would engage in the future as her stated intention is not to practice as a Social Worker. The Panel concluded that there was a strong likelihood that the Registrant would repeat her failings if permitted to practise unrestricted. It continued to be the case that the Registrant would pose a risk to the public if allowed to practise unrestricted.

16. The Panel also found that public confidence in the profession and the declaring of proper standards of conduct and performance demanded a finding of impairment given the Registrant’s lack of competence and the fact that she had chosen not to attend or demonstrate insight into the proven allegations.

17. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the Registrant is currently impaired.

18. The Panel considered whether to make no order or to impose a Caution but concluded that this would not be sufficient to protect the public or satisfy the public interest in light of the seriousness of the failings.

19. The Panel considered whether to impose a Conditions of Practice Order but concluded that it would be unable to frame any conditions that would be practicable or workable given that the Registrant had not attended or expressed agreement to abide by any conditions that the Panel might see fit to impose. She had indicated that she no longer intended to work as a Social Worker. Further, the Panel concluded that conditions would not be sufficient to protect the public in any event.

20. The Panel concluded that a Suspension Order was the only available order that would protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and well-being of the public; promote and maintain public confidence in the profession; and promote and maintain proper professional standards for members of the profession in the circumstances of this case, for the reasons set out above.

21. The Panel decided to extend the existing order by six months to give the Registrant the opportunity to remediate her failings. The Panel wished to remind the Registrant that the next panel will have all options available to it, including a striking off order. The Panel had also heard that the HCPC is considering offering the Registrant the possibility of pursuing voluntary removal from the register and the Panel concluded that the period of six months would be sufficient to enable this to take place if the parties so agree.

Order

The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Ms Carol Ann Gould for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The Order imposed today will take effect from the expiry of the current order on 22 July 2017.

This Order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 22 January 2018.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Ms Carol Ann Gould

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
14/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
22/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
22/09/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
22/09/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended