Miss Sarah Anne Garland

: Social worker

: SW07308

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 03/08/2017 End: 17:00 03/08/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

The following allegation was put before the Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 7-8 December 2015:

During your employment as a Social Worker for Bedford Borough Council you:
1. Inappropriately accessed the records of the following service users without a work-related reason to do so:

a) Service User A on or around:
i. 14 May 2013
ii. 28 January 2012

b) Service User B on or around:
i. 28 January 2012
ii. 31 July 2009

2. On or around 14 May 2013 you amended Service User A’s records without authorisation.

3. On an unknown date you disclosed information from Service User A’s record to Service User A without authorisation to do so.

4. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 3 constitute misconduct.
 
5. By reason of that misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.


The Panel at the substantive hearing found all of the particulars of the allegation proved. The Panel went on to find that the proved particulars amounted to misconduct and the Registrant’s tfpp was thereby impaired. A Suspension Order for 12 months was imposed as a sanction.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was satisfied that notice of today’s hearing had been properly served on the Registrant in accordance with the Rules.


Proceeding in Absence


2. Mr Thompson made an application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence . The Panel is aware that its discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


3. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself and would be unlikely to attend at a future date if the hearing  were adjourned. This is a mandatory review. In these circumstances the Panel is satisfied that it is appropriate and both in the Registrant’s interest and in the public interest to proceed in her absence.


Background:


4. The Registrant was employed by Bedford Borough Council as a Social Worker from 2009. She worked as a Band 7 Social Worker in the Hospital Social Work team at Bedford Hospital.

5. The final hearing of this matter was on 7-8 December 2015, at which the Registrant was neither present not represented. She was found to have accessed records of two service users without a work-related reason on dated between 2009 and 2013, to have amended the records of one of those service users and subsequently disclosed information on the same service user without authorisation. The Panel found that her fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her misconduct and inmposed a Suspension Order for 12 months.

6. At the first substantive review hearing on 22 December 2016, the Registrant was neither present nor represented. However, she submitted an email in which she apologised for her actions and expressed a wish to undertake the necessary retraining to return to her profession. The Panel considered that her fitness to practise remained impaired and imposed a Suspension Order for a further 4 months. That Panel invited the Registrant to assist the next review Panel with a reflective statement regarding her misconduct, with particular reference to the effect on service users and confidence in the profession, evidence of insight and evidence of continuing professional development.


7. At the second substantive review on 7 April 2017, the Registrant again was neither present nor represented. In the absence of any new information, or any engagment by the Registrant, the Panel on that occasion imposed a further Suspension Order for a period of 4 months. In doing so, the Panel urged the Registrant to provide the next review Panel with a reflective statement and evidence of her continuing professional development. The Panel warned the Registrant of the risk of a striking off order if she failed to respond.

Decision

8. The Panel was provided by the HCPC with a bundle of documents containing the decision of the Panel at the final hearing and the two previous review hearings of the substantive order.

9. The Registrant had not engaged with the HCPC since the email which she sent to the HCPC for the purpose of the first review hearing on 22 December 2016.


10. Mr Thompson submitted that, in view of her lack of engagement, the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

11. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on “Finding That Fitness to Practise is Impaired” and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

12. The Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.


13. In determining what sanction, if any, to impose on the expiry of the current order, the Panel took into account the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.


14. The misconduct in this case was very serious and amounted to a significant breach of her position of trust as a Social Worker, which had the potential to undermine public confidence in the Social Work profession.


15. The Panel considered that a Caution Order was inappropriate because it would not restrict the Registrant’s practice in any way or protect service users.


16. A Conditions of Practice Order was not relevant, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement.

17. The Panel considered that there would be no point in imposing a further Suspension Order as the Registrant had failed to respond positively.

18. The Registrant’s failure to engage for the HCPC in these proceedings demonstrates a lack of willingness to remediate her practice, which is incompatible with her continuing to be on the Register.

19. In light of the Registrant’s failure to engage with the HCPC in these proceedings and to respond to the invitation of previous Panels to provide a reflective statement or any evidence of remorse, insight and remediation, the only the appropriate sanction would be a Striking Off Order to take effect upon the expiry of the existing Suspension Order.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Sarah Anne Garland from the Register upon the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The Order expires on 5 September 2017.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Sarah Anne Garland

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
07/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
22/12/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
07/12/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended