Mr Paul David Reed

: Social worker

: SW33081

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 07/07/2017 End: 17:00 07/07/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

Whilst employed as a Social Worker by Devon County Council:

1. On 14 October 2015 you visited Service User X at River View Care Centre to complete a Welfare Visit and you:

a. Did not report the alleged inappropriate sexual behavior of Service User X as detailed in the Behaviour Records between 3 September 2015 and 12 October 2015 to:


i. the Manager at the River View Care Centre to raise a Safeguarding Concern;
ii. a Manager at Devon County Council.

b. Did not ensure that Service User X accessed appropriate intervention in light of concerns raised in paragraph 1(a) namely that you did not report
these matters to the Community Mental Health Team to conduct an assessment.

c. Did not review all of Service User X's care notes and/or records and/or did not record that you had reviewed them.

d. Did not make contact with and/or record contacting Colleague A about Service User X, even though they had previously completed a Welfare
Review on Service User X on 4 September 2015.

2. On 28 October 2015 you completed a Mental Capacity Act assessment regarding Service User X and completed the assessment:

a. Without the prior permission of your manager, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.

b. Prior to the Safeguarding Strategy meeting took place, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.

3. Your actions described in paragraphs 1 - 2 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Background

1. The Registrant is a registered social worker. He was employed by Devon County Council (‘the Council’) from 7 January 2002 until his dismissal on 20 April 2016. At the time of the Registrant’s dismissal he was a Senior Social Worker within a Community Health and Social Care team based at Totnes Community Hospital.

2. The Registrant’s line manager had some concerns with regard to his performance. These concerns were managed on an informal basis by means of a Performance Improvement Plan on 4 March 2015 and 18 August 2015.  

3. Whilst the Registrant was subject to the Performance Improvement Plan, safeguarding meetings were held by the Council in August and September 2015 in respect of standards of care and practice at the River View Care Centre (‘River View’), which accommodated people with nursing needs and dementia. Following the September meeting it was agreed that ‘welfare’ reviews would be undertaken by Social Workers. The Registrant carried out a monitoring visit at River View as part of that review.  A number of allegations were made with regard to the Registrant’s review and assessment of a service user. A formal internal investigation was conducted by the Council and a referral was made to the HCPC on 23 November 2015. The Council’s investigation culminated in an internal disciplinary hearing which took place on 20 April 2016. Following that hearing the Registrant was dismissed by the Council with immediate effect on the grounds of gross misconduct.

4. On 28 July 2016, a panel of the Investigating Committee determined that there was a case to answer in relation to the concerns that had been raised and therefore the case was referred to the Conduct and Competence Committee.

5. The Notice of Allegation was sent to the Registrant by the HCPC on 29 July 2016. The Allegation is as follows:

Whilst employed as a Social Worker by Devon County Council:

1. On 14 October 2015 you visited Service User X at River View Care Centre to complete a Welfare Visit and you:

a. Did not report the alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour of Service User X as detailed in the Behaviour Records between 3 September 2015 and 12 October 2015 to:
i. the Manager at the River View Care Centre to raise a Safeguarding Concern;
ii. a Manager at Devon County Council.

b. Did not ensure that Service User X accessed appropriate intervention in light of concerns raised in paragraph 1(a) namely that you did not report these matters to the Community Mental Health Team to conduct an assessment.

c. Did not review all of Service User X’s care notes and/or records and/or did not record that you had reviewed them.

d. Did not make contact with and/or record contacting Colleague A about Service User X, even though they had previously completed a Welfare Review on Service User X on 4 September 2015.

2. On 28 October 2015 you completed a Mental Capacity Act assessment regarding Service User X and completed the assessment:
a. Without the prior permission of your manager, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.
b. Prior to the Safeguarding Strategy meeting took place, which was not in accordance with the safeguarding procedure.

3. Your actions described in paragraphs 1 – 2 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

6. On 13 October 2016, prior to the scheduling of the Final Hearing, the HCPC wrote to the Registrant inviting him to consider agreeing to conditions being placed on his registration. The Registrant in a letter, dated 25 October 2016, confirmed that he was willing to be made subject to Conditions of Practise. On 22 March 2017 the proposed conditions were sent to the Registrant by email and by return email on the same date he confirmed that he was willing to comply with these conditions.

7. The proposed Consent Order setting out the conditions was signed by the HCPC on 6 April 2017 and signed by the Registrant on 21 April 2017.

HCPC Submissions

8. Ms Clarke, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that the HCPC was satisfied that the Allegation had been admitted by the Registrant. The HCPC relied on the Registrant’s email, dated 26 July 2016, in which he accepted that he had been ‘remiss’ and had ‘made a mistake’, his engagement with the HCPC and his signed agreement to the Consent Order.

9. Ms Clarke, in response to a query from the Panel at the outset of the hearing, submitted that the HCPC was satisfied that the Consent Order appropriately addresses the concerns set out in the Allegation. Ms Clarke stated that the safeguarding concerns are addressed by the implementation of a Personal Development Plan (PDP) and the proposed conditions 3(c), (d) and (e) and the record keeping concerns are addressed by conditions 3(a) and (b). She also stated that conditions 4 and 5 are designed to ensure that the PDP is incorporated into the Registrant’s future practice. Ms Clarke informed the Panel that condition 6 addresses communication and condition 7 addresses record keeping.

Registrant’s Submissions

10. The Registrant made oral submissions to the Panel. He admitted the Allegation in full and accepted that his fitness to practise is currently impaired.

11. The Registrant explained that a potential consequence of his mistakes was that vulnerable service users may have been put at risk. He recognised the reasons the mistakes were made and described what he would do differently in future to prevent recurrence. The Registrant informed the Panel that he knew the service user well and as a result he had failed to analyse the situation holistically; instead he had focussed on the service user’s physical health. The Registrant recognised that there had been a breakdown in his professional relationship with his managers and accepted that he was at least partly responsible for the consequential lack of communication.

12. The Registrant submitted that the conditions would assist him in remediating the deficiencies in his practice. He explained the importance of reflective writing and accepted that he needed to prioritise accurate and timely record keeping. The Registrant confirmed that he has not practised as a Social Worker since November 2015.

Panel’s Approach

13. Prior to reaching a decision, on the proposed Consent Order, the Panel carefully considered all of the information and evidence before it, including the Allegation, the Registrant’s written submissions contained within his email dated 26 July 2017, and the terms of the Order itself. The Panel also took into account the guidance contained within the HCPC Practice Note:  Disposal of Cases By Consent which states it is required to ensure that:

“…any remedial action proposed by the registrant and to be embodied in the Consent Order is consistent with the expected outcome if the case was to proceed to a contested hearing.”

14. In assessing the appropriateness of the proposed Consent Order, the Panel carefully considered the balance between its duty to protect the public and the interests of the Registrant. The Panel also had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and took into account paragraph 31 which states:

‘Before imposing conditions a Panel should be satisfied that:

• the issues which the conditions seek to address are capable of correction;

• there is no persistent or general failure which would prevent the registrant from doing so;

• appropriate, realistic and verifiable conditions can be formulated;

• the registrant can be expected to comply with them; and

• a reviewing Panel will be able to determine whether those conditions have or are being met.’

Decision

15. The Panel noted that the Allegation has been admitted in full and concluded that based on the documentary evidence the particulars of the Allegation were capable of being found proved on the balance of probabilities.

16. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had demonstrated good insight by recognising the serious nature of the Allegation. In particular, the Panel identified the following mitigating factors:

• the Registrant had made substantial admissions at an early stage;

• the deficiencies represented an isolated incident within an otherwise unblemished career;

• he expressed genuine remorse for his conduct;

• he had personal problems and health problems at the time;

17. The Panel balanced the mitigating factors against the aggravating factors. The aggravating factors include the fact that vulnerable service users were exposed to an unwarranted risk of harm and the concerns raised related to reviews and assessments which are fundamental to the role of a Social Worker. 

18. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that approval of the proposed Consent Order is both proportionate and appropriate. In reaching this conclusion the Panel noted that the Registrant is an experienced Social Worker and the deficiencies in his practice which have been identified are capable of remediation. Furthermore, the Registrant’s history of positive engagement with his previous employer’s Performance Improvement Plan and these regulatory proceedings strongly demonstrates a commitment to addressing the shortcomings in his practice. He had also recognised the importance of timely and accurate record keeping as part of the safeguarding process. The Panel concluded that the Registrant could be trusted to make a determined effort to comply with a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel also took the view that the proposed conditions are appropriate and realistic and would be capable of being verified by a reviewing panel. That reviewing panel may be assisted by evidence that the Registrant has kept his skills and knowledge as a Social Worker up to date.

19. The Panel also determined that there is a legitimate public interest in avoiding a Final Hearing, in circumstances where full admissions have been made to an Allegation which has the potential to undermine public confidence in the profession and where the Registrant has consented to being made subject to a 12 month Conditions of Practice Order.  The Panel took the view that a Suspension Order or Striking Off Order would be inappropriate and disproportionate given the level of insight that the Registrant has demonstrated.

20. The Panel approved the Consent Order.

Order

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, Mr Paul David Reed, must comply with the following conditions of practice:


1. You must inform the HCPC within 14 days if you take up any employment for which HCPC registration is required.


2. Upon commencing employment, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor, registered by the HCPC as a Social Worker, and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 28 days. You must inform your supervisor of the HCPC allegation against you. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any change of supervisor.


3. You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practise:
a) Timeliness of record-keeping
b) Accuracy of record-keeping
c) Conducting comprehensive reviews of service user records
d) Identification of safeguarding concerns
e) Following safeguarding processes including referrals to other agencies for further assessment
4. You must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to review a sample of your notes and your progress towards meeting the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.


5. Every 3 months, you must provide a report from your supervisor providing information regarding your progress towards meeting the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

6. No less than 28 days before the date of any review hearing, you must provide a reflective piece to the HCPC on the importance of communicating well with your manager.

7. No less than 28 days before the date of any review hearing, you must provide a reflective piece to the HCPC on the importance of prompt and accurate note keeping.


8. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any capability or disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.


9. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your employer or take up any other or further employment.


10. 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

The order imposed today will apply for 12 months from 7 July 2017 (the operative date) and will be reviewed shortly before expiry. 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Paul David Reed

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
07/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice