Mr Robert Michael Anderson

: Social worker

: SW20724

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 20/07/2017 End: 12:00 20/07/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

Whilst employed by Birmingham City Council (BCC) as a Social Worker in the Disabled Children’s Team between April 2006 and September 2008 you:

 

1. On or around

 

1.1. 11 December 2007;

 

1.2. 4 February 2008;

Were alerted to concerns regarding the safety of Child E and her siblings, and you

 

1.3 Did not act adequately on this information in a timely manner

 

1.4 Did not take sufficient steps to safeguard Child E and/or her siblings

 

2. On or around:

 

2.1 15 January 2008;

Were made aware that Child C and Child B may be at risk of harm through contact with a Schedule 1 sex offender if contact with their mother remained unsupervised but did not act adequately upon receipt of this information;

 

3. On or around 18 February 2008, following a Looked After Child Review:

 

3.1 Did not complete assessments of Child C and Child D in a Statutory Care Plan or at all, despite being directed to do so at the Looked After Child Review;

 

3.4 Did not take sufficient steps to safeguard Child C and/or Child D;

 

4. In or around April 2008 were made aware that Child C has been sexually abused, however you:

 

4.1 On or around 24 April 2008 responded to foster carer Mrs B in a dismissive manner;

 

4.2 Did not acknowledge the seriousness of Child C’s disclosure;

 

4.4 Did not recognise that the disclosure needed to be investigated by other social workers in your absence

 

4.5 Responded inappropriately to other social workers regarding the work in which they carried out in your absence.

Finding

Background

1.  The Registrant was employed as an agency Social Worker in the Disabled Children’s Team at Birmingham City Council from April 2006 to September 2008. On 14 June 2012 a Committee of the General Social Care Council found that the Registrant had failed to act adequately when alerted to concerns regarding the safety of children, did not take sufficient steps appropriately to safeguard children and that his actions amounted to misconduct and imposed a Suspension Order for a period of three months.

2. On the first review, which the Registrant did not attend and was not represented, the HCPC review panel extended the Suspension Order for 12 months. On the second review, which the Registrant attended unrepresented, the review panel imposed a 12 month Conditions of Practice Order. That Order was extended for a further 12 months at the third review, which the Registrant attended unrepresented. It was extended again at the fourth review, which the Registrant attended unrepresented. At the fifth review, which the Registrant again attended and represented himself, the Conditions of Practice Order was replaced by a 12 month Suspension Order. This was because the Registrant had obtained employment as a Social Worker, but had not declared his Conditions of Practice Order to his employers. This led the review panel to have no confidence that the Registrant would comply with any new conditions imposed.

3. The fifth review panel considered that the next review panel might be assisted by the following:
• The Registrant’s attendance at any review hearing;
• A reflective piece from the Registrant which considers the obligations of a Social Worker subject to an Order of conditions and the importance of complying with Conditions of Practice;
• A further reflective piece on the findings of misconduct made by the original panel;
• Up to date evidence of continuing professional development;
• Up to date references from any employer or colleague who is aware of the details of the allegation found proved and whether the employment is paid or unpaid.

Decision

4. The Registrant gave oral evidence and referred to the further documents he had supplied for this review, which included two reflective pieces as suggested by the last review panel; certificates of attendance at 7 CPD courses; and four testimonials from those he has worked for and with; and a testimonial from another social worker whom he has worked with in his present employment as a support worker. He explained to the Panel what was involved in his present jobs of full-time support worker and part-time key worker. He now has a mentor and feels this helps him a lot. The Registrant told the Panel how it was that he had not informed his previous employer in 2016 of his Conditions of Practice as required by those conditions and said that this was an oversight. He further expressed his passion for social work and his desire to return to practice in the area of adult social work.

5.  Mr Newman, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that the Registrant had made efforts to address the deficiencies in his practice by attendance at courses, and demonstrated a commitment to social work. However, there remained, he submitted, sufficient concerns and a finding of current impairment was justified. In that event, whilst it was a matter for the Panel, it might be that a further period of Conditions of Practice would be a proportionate response.

6. This is the sixth review under Article 30 of the 2001 Order. The Panel has accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and exercised the principle of proportionality and the full guidance in the HCPC’s “Finding fitness to practise to be ‘impaired’” and “Indicative Sanctions Policy” March 2017. The Panel recognised that it cannot go behind the findings of the original panel.

7. The Panel has taken into consideration all the information before it, including the previous determinations of the original panel and the review panels, the oral and documentary evidence produced by the Registrant on this review, and the submissions made by Mr Newman and the Registrant.

8. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired by reason of the original findings of misconduct made in June 2012. Those findings were that the Registrant’s actions in December 2007 to April 2008 had failed to complete assessments and to adequately safeguard vulnerable children, which were regarded as serious.

9. The Registrant has demonstrated his continued commitment to social care by his present full-time and part-time employment as a care worker for adults and part time occasional employment as a key worker for young adults. He remains unable to accept the findings of the original panel, however the Panel accepted that the Registrant has taken steps to improve his knowledge of safeguarding by his attendance upon some courses. The Panel had very limited information, though, upon the content of those courses and their relevance to the deficiencies in his practice found by the original panel.

10. The Panel acknowledged the positive comments in the testimonials provided, but recognised the limitations of the testimonials in that they could not provide direct recent experience of the Registrant in the role of a social worker.

11. The Panel noted that whilst the Registrant had found and worked with a mentor, that mentoring role was directed to emotional support and encouragement for the Registrant, rather than assistance in remedying the deficiencies in his practice that had led to the finding of misconduct.

12. The Panel was also concerned that the Registrant’s answers to questions from the Panel were rather generalised and vague. His answers lacked detail of what specific action he would take to particular identified risks to service users apart from simply saying that he would more readily inform his manager of concerns. This provided little reassurance to the Panel in terms of the risk of repetition.

13. In these circumstances, the Panel could not be satisfied that the deficiencies had been fully addressed and remediated. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains currently impaired.

14. The Panel moved on to consider the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case.

15. The Panel determined that the past misconduct was too serious for no further action to be taken, or for the imposition of a Caution Order. Either course would not sufficiently protect the public or the wider public interest.

16. The Panel decided that a Conditions of Practice Order can be devised which is workable, verifiable and sufficient to protect the public given the efforts the Registrant has already made in terms of relevant work and training. Although the Registrant had failed to comply with the Conditions of Practice Order last imposed by his failure to inform his employers of the Order, the Panel, having heard the Registrant, are satisfied that the 12 month Suspension Order imposed by the last review panel, has had the necessary deterrent effect on the Registrant. The Panel, therefore, is satisfied that the Registrant would comply with a Conditions of Practice Order which the Panel is going to impose for 12 months from the expiry of the present Suspension Order.

17. The Panel considered that a further Suspension Order and the greater sanction of a Striking Off Order, would both be disproportionate and unjustified.
• This Order will be reviewed prior to its expiry and it may be of assistance to that reviewing panel if the Registrant were to attend and produce further evidence of his remediation of the deficiencies that led to the finding of misconduct, including current relevant references and testimonials from professionals or colleagues who are aware of the details of the misconduct found proved and the Registrant’s current working practice.

Order

Order: The Panel directs the Registrar to annotate the Register entry of Mr Robert Michael Anderson with the following conditions for a period of one year from the expiry of the current order (i.e. the “Operative Date”) in terms of Article 31(b) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001:

1.   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 (at the time of application).

2. Within seven days of commencing employment as a Social Worker
a) you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a Social Worker registered with the HCPC, and;
b) supply to the HCPC the details of your supervisor.
             
3. You must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to discuss your day to day work and to address, in particular, the following areas of your practice
• Completing required assessments within timescales;
• Risk assessments;
• Communication with service users and fellow professionals.

4. You must provide to the HCPC on a three-monthly basis copies of the supervision notes of the monthly meetings with your supervisor. 

5. You must submit to the HCPC six weeks prior to the date of review of this Order, a report from your supervisor on your overall progress in addressing the areas of practice identified in 3 above.

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 17 August 2018.

Right of Appeal:

You may appeal to the High Court in England and Wales against the Panel’s decision and the order it has made against you.
Under Article 29(10) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. The Panel’s order will not take effect until the appeal period has expired or, if you appeal, until that appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.

European alert mechanism:

In accordance with Regulation 67 of the European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2015, the HCPC will inform the competent authorities in all other EEA States that your right to practise has been restricted.
You may appeal to the County Court against the HCPC’s decision to do so.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the date when this notice is served on you. This right of appeal is separate from your right to appeal against the decision and order of the Panel.

 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Robert Michael Anderson

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/07/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
18/08/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
03/08/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
15/08/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
08/08/2013 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice