Mr David Lodda
(The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 16 – 20 May 2016, 01 August 2016 and 08 August 2016)
Whilst registered as a Social Worker and during the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Ealing Council:
1) You did not pass on information and/or give handover notes relating to complex cases to your Team Manager prior to taking annual leave which commenced on 20 August 2013;
2) In relation to Service User A, you did not in a timely manner or at all:
a) make adequate records on Frameworki of your conduct of this case between approximately July - August 2013;
b) progress a safeguarding investigation in relation to Service User A's possessions/ property;
c) complete an overview assessment and/or a mental capacity assessment;
d) obtain and / or record on Frameworki a copy of the section 2 document;
e) oversee a "blitz clean" process of Service User's A property to be completed prior his discharge from hospital;
3) In relation to Service User B, after an assessment on or around 5 August 2013 you did not:
a) record any or any adequate follow up actions on Frameworki;
b) undertake and/or complete any or any adequate follow up actions;
4) In relation to Service User C, following an assessment on or around 3rd July 2013 you did not:
a) record any or any adequate follow up actions on Frameworki;
b) take steps to progress this case or record any or any adequate information regarding the progress in this case;
5) In relation to Service User D, after an assessment and visit on 22 July 2013, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the assessment on 22 July 2013;
b) record adequately or at all any follow up action you took as a result of the assessment on 22 July 2013;
c) take any or any appropriate follow up action arising out of your visit on 22 July 2013;
6) In relation to Service User E, whom you visited on 2 August 2013 in order to conduct an assessment, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the assessment;
b) (Not found proved)
c) set up a support plan for the Service User;
7) In relation to Service User F, upon having the case assigned to you, you did not:
a) (Not found proved)
b) record adequately or at all any other actions that you took in relation to this Service User;
8) In relation to Service User G, whose case was allocated to you on 14 February 2013, you failed to:
a) (Not found proved)
b) (Not found proved)
9) In relation to Service User H, you did not:
a) arrange in a timely manner or at all for Service User H to be jointly assessed with the Community Psychiatric Nurse;
b) visit Service User H in a timely manner or at all;
c) keep adequate records;
10) In relation to Service User I, following a home visit on 18 July 2013 you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the follow up actions on this case and/or the outcome of any police investigation;
b) arrange in a timely manner or at all strategy meeting;
c) devise and/or implement an interim protection plan;
d) discuss and/or manage and/or adequately record the management of the self-harm incident on 29 July 2013;
11) In relation to Service User J, after a visit on 5 August 2013, you did not:
a) complete and/or send for authorisation the assessment of Service User J that you undertook; or
b) ensure that this matter was presented to the risk panel before funding ran out;
c) undertake a financial assessment and/or MCA in a timely manner or at all;
12) In relation to Service User K, after the case was assigned to you in August 2013, you did not:
a) complete the assessment;
b) (Not found proved)
13) In relation to Service User L, after an assessment on or around 5 July 2013, you did not:
a) record the assessment on Frameworki in a timely fashion or at all; and/or
b) complete the assessment in a timely fashion;
14) In relation to Service User M, after a visit on 3 July 2013, you did not:
a) undertake any or any appropriate follow up work;
b) complete the assessment in a timely fashion or at all;
c) progress a request for the cash budget;
15) In relation to Service User N, after a visit on 11 July 2013, you did not:
a) record adequately or at all the involvement that you had with this case until 29 October 2013;
16) In relation to Service User O, after an assessment on 25 June 2013, you did not complete the assessment document and/or a carer’s assessment in a timely manner or at all;
17) In relation to Service User P, after completing an assessment on 28 June 2013, you did not:
a) produce at all and/or produce an adequate plan;
18) In relation to Service User Q, after a visit on 15 July 2013, you did not:
a) set up a package of care/contact (POC); and/or
b) (Not found proved)
19) In relation to Service User R, you did not:
a) follow up on a safeguarding concern in a timely manner; and/or
b) ensure that an interim protection plan was in place prior to any strategy meeting;
20) The matters described in paragraphs 1 to 19 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence;
21) By reason of your misconduct and / or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
At the substantive hearing the Panel found all of the particulars of the allegation (above) proved bar particulars 6b, 7a, 8a-b, 12b and 18b. The Panel found that the proven particulars amounted to misconduct and the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. A suspension order (for a period of 12 months) was imposed as a sanction.
1. The Registrant is a Social Worker. He commenced his employment with Ealing Council (“the Council”) on 18 February 2008 in the Adult Services Team. He worked as a Care Manager in the Acton Older People’s Team (“the Team”). His responsibilities included carrying out and reviewing client and carer assessments in order to establish their needs and then agreeing with the service user (and, where appropriate, their carers) as to how those needs could best be met. The Registrant’s work included commissioning services, the provision of support and the investigation and management of safeguarding issues to ensure that service users were protected from abuse. He also took part in a duty rota in the team.
2. The Registrant was on annual leave from 20 August 2013 until 9 September 2013. He became ill and was on sick leave from 10 September 2013 until his return to work on 18 October 2013. During the Registrant’s absence the team received a number of enquiries from relatives and carers about progress in the cases of four service users. Subsequently, three complaints were received from relatives and carers about the slow progress of cases. These were passed on to one of the Joint Heads of Older People who directed that managers should review the case records on Frameworki, the client record-keeping system. A subsequent review of 18 cases allocated to the Registrant between June 2013 and August 2013 revealed that a number of cases allocated to the Registrant had not been actioned. In others, assessments had not been completed. Three of the cases involved adult safeguarding issues. The Council’s policy in relation to such matters was that they should be actioned as a priority within three days of allocation.
3. The Council commenced a disciplinary investigation and a disciplinary hearing was convened on 10 April 2014. On 5 March 2014 the matter was referred to the HCPC.
4. The Registrant attended the substantive HCPC hearing which concluded on 8 August 2016. That panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired on the grounds of misconduct and imposed a 12 month Suspension Order. The panel suggested that a future review panel may be assisted by:
• Evidence from the Registrant that he has reflected on the impact of his misconduct;
• Evidence of training and learning in relation to his failings;
• Evidence of continuing professional development;
• References and/or testimonials from those who have employed him in either a paid or unpaid capacity. It would be particularly helpful if the Registrant was able to provide such testimonials from those able to comment on his record-keeping, assessment and follow up work.
5. Ms Hamilton, on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the history of this case. She also drew to the Panel’s attention the information that the previous panel suggested that the Registrant may provide to assist at this review. Ms Hamilton referred to the reference from Reed In Partnership and the continuing professional development documents provided by the Registrant but made no positive submission as to whether his fitness to practise remains impaired.
6. The Registrant chose not to give evidence. The Registrant informed the Panel that he had reflected on his previous misconduct and had taken appropriate steps to remedy his failings. He stated that he had completed various Continuing Professional Development courses and made particular reference to a safeguarding course he had attended run by the Health & Social Care Forum. In addition, the Registrant referred the Panel to the reference from Reed In Partnership which confirms that he is “efficient at record keeping and maintaining up to date records.” He informed the Panel that although he has not worked in social work for some time he is committed to the profession.
7. In response to questions on points of clarification from the Panel, the Registrant explained that he has been supported by Reed In Partnership with regards to two businesses (consultancy in town planning and energy healing) that he has set up. He also confirmed that the Assessment Feedback Form which he had provided was for a Diploma in Depression Counselling which he completed online via the ‘Centre of Excellence’.
8. In undertaking this review, the Panel took into account the documentary evidence and the submissions from Ms Hamilton on behalf of the HCPC, and those of the Registrant.
9. The Panel accepted and applied the advice it received from the Legal Assessor as to the proper approach it should adopt, in particular that:
• The purpose of the review is to consider the issue of impairment based on the previous panel’s findings of fact, the extent to which the Registrant has engaged with the regulatory process, the scope and level of his insight, and the risk of repetition.
• In terms of whether the Registrant’s previous misconduct has been sufficiently and appropriately remediated, relevant factors include whether the Registrant: i) fully appreciates the gravity of the previous panel’s finding of impairment; ii) has maintained his skills and knowledge; iii) is likely to place service users at risk if he were to return to unrestricted practise.
• The Panel should have regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’” and must take account of a range of issues which, in essence, comprise two components: (i) the ‘personal’ component: the current competence, behaviour etc. of the individual registrant; and (ii) the ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.
• It is only if the Panel determine that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, that the Panel should go on to consider sanction by applying the guidance as set out in the HCPC “Indicative Sanctions Policy” (ISP), and the principles of proportionality which require the Registrant’s interests to be balanced against the interests of the public.
10. The Panel acknowledged that the Registrant was not represented and made appropriate allowances for the inherent difficulties in being unrepresented. The Panel was also aware that, as the Registrant had been suspended for 12 months, he would have to be creative and flexible in demonstrating that he has maintained his skills and knowledge. However, the Panel concluded that although the Registrant has engaged with the regulatory process, he has not taken advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that he is fit to return to unrestricted practice.
11. The Panel noted that the deficiencies in the Registrant’s practise, as identified at the substantive hearing, are core skills required of all registered Social Workers. Although the Panel accepted that the Registrant may well have reflected on the circumstances which had led to the finding of misconduct, there was no evidence before the Panel that this reflection was meaningful. The Registrant had to be prompted to provide more detail and the responses he provided did not demonstrate any acknowledgement of fault or any detailed description of the practical changes he would make to his social work practise to ensure that his previous failings would not be repeated. Furthermore, the Registrant did not demonstrate that he fully appreciates how his actions impacted, or could have impacted, on service users and his colleagues.
12. In the absence of meaningful and well-developed insight, the Panel concluded that the risk of repetition remains. In particular, the Panel was concerned by the Registrant’s failure to fully embrace the opportunity provided to him by the previous panel, to consider its findings and demonstrate that his failings have been sufficiently and appropriately remediated.
13. The Panel noted that the Registrant does not appear to have practised social work since 2014. Although the Panel appreciated that the Registrant’s access to appropriate courses may be constrained due to his current circumstances, there was little or no evidence that he had focussed his learning and development needs to the deficiencies identified by the previous panel. Furthermore, the Panel took the view that attending various courses is a useful starting point, but the Registrant needs to demonstrate a broader engagement in matters relating to social work practice, for example, by reading appropriate publications. This would assist him in demonstrating not only what he has learnt, but more importantly, how this learning will be translated into practice.
14. The Panel concluded that public confidence in the social work profession would be undermined if there was no finding of impairment in this case, where the Registrant has failed to provide sufficient information which would indicate that lessons had been learned and appropriate steps taken to remedy his previous conduct and behaviour. As a consequence, the Panel determined that there is a current and ongoing risk of harm to service users and further damage to the reputation of the profession.
15. The Panel therefore determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.
16. The Panel then considered what sanction, if any, should be imposed. The Panel bore in mind that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public.
17. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel concluded that, in view of the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct which has not been remedied and in the absence of exceptional circumstances, it would be inappropriate to take no action. Furthermore it would be insufficient to protect the public, maintain public confidence and uphold the reputation of the profession.
18. The Panel then considered a Caution Order. The Panel noted paragraph 28 of the ISP which states:
“A caution order is an appropriate sanction for cases, where the lapse is isolated, limited or relatively minor in nature, there is a low risk of recurrence, the registrant has shown insight and taken appropriate action.”
19. The Registrant’s failings were not minor in nature and had the potential to have wide-ranging adverse consequences. Furthermore, the Registrant has not demonstrated sufficient insight and therefore the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would be inappropriate and insufficient to meet the public interest.
20. The Panel went on to consider a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel noted that paragraph 33 of the ISP states:
“Conditions will rarely be effective unless the registrant is genuinely committed to resolving the issues they seek to address and can be trusted to make a determined effort to do so. Therefore, conditions of practice are unlikely to be suitable in cases:
• where the Registrant…lacks insight…; [and]
• where there are serious or persistent overall failings;”
21. The Panel took the view that given the Registrant’s unwillingness or inability to provide the information and evidence that was suggested by the previous panel, this Panel had no confidence that he would comply with a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel was aware that the suggestions made by the previous panel are only indicative and do not have any binding authority, unlike conditions which require compliance. However, both involve willingness on the part of the Registrant and a determined effort. In the absence of sufficient evidence of willingness and readiness to comply with the previous panel’s suggestions, the Panel concluded that there were no conditions it could devise which would be appropriate, workable and measurable.
22. The Panel next considered extending the current Suspension Order for a further period of time. A Suspension Order would send a further signal to the Registrant, the profession and the public, re-affirming the standards expected of a registered social worker. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from practising during the extended suspension period which would, therefore, protect the public and the wider public interest. A Suspension Order would also provide the Registrant with the opportunity to develop the insight which is essential if he intends to return to practice.
23. The Panel took into account paragraph 41 of the ISP states: “If the evidence suggests that the registrant will be unable to resolve or remedy his or her failings then striking off may be the more appropriate option. However, where there are no psychological or other difficulties preventing the registrant from understanding and seeking to remedy the failings then suspension may be appropriate.”
24. The Panel took the view that the above paragraph may apply to the Registrant. The Panel determined that the Registrant should be given a further opportunity to consider carefully the decision of the previous panel and this Panel and properly focus on the issues that have been identified.
25. The Panel determined that the Suspension Order should be imposed for a period of 9 months. The Panel was satisfied that this period would be sufficient for the Registrant to demonstrate an appropriate level of insight into his failings.
26. The Panel decided that the appropriate and proportionate order is a Suspension Order. A Striking Off Order, at this point in time, would be disproportionate as there remains a possibility that the Registrant is willing and able to demonstrate remediation. This Panel cannot bind a future panel but it is highly likely that if the Registrant fails to take advantage of this further opportunity to demonstrate that he has addressed the deficiencies in his practise, the outcome may be a Striking Off Order.
27. The extended Suspension Order will be reviewed shortly before expiry. A future reviewing panel would expect the Registrant to provide the following:
a) A reflective piece demonstrating that the Registrant has reflected on his failings as identified by the previous panel and has developed meaningful insight on the impact on service users and colleagues;
b) Evidence of training and learning in relation to his failings;
c) Evidence of continuing professional development relevant to social work practise;
d) References and/or testimonials from those who have employed him in either a paid or unpaid capacity. It would be particularly helpful if the Registrant was able to provide such testimonials from those able to comment on his skills relevant to social work.
The order imposed today will apply from the expiry date of the existing order of suspension on 05 September 2017.
This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 05 June 2018.