Mrs Jeanette Hamer

: Social worker

: SW91433

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 10/08/2017 End: 12:00 10/08/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Northamptonshire County Council between 2006 and July 2014;

 

1. You practised as a Social Worker while not registered with the appropriate Social Work Regulator from 2006 until 8 February 2013.

 

2. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User A, and you;

a) Did not visit him in a timely manner after you became aware that Service User A had placed a ligature around his neck with a view to ending his life;

b) Did not inform and / or seek the advice of your manager once you became aware of the immediate risks to his safety and welfare;

c) Did not seek advice and/or support from line management;

d) Did not conduct and/or seek to arrange for a risk assessment to be undertaken;

e) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

 

3. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User B, and you;

a) Did not take any or any appropriate steps to identify whether an alternative placement would be suitable for Service User A in accordance with the recommendations made at a Looked After Child (LAC) review in April 2013;

b) Did not undertake and / or record LAC statutory visits to Service User B in a timely way or at all between 18 February 2013 and 4 July 2013;

c) Scheduled a PEP meeting during school hours;

d) Did not discuss with Service User B the incident regarding his brother’s (Service User A’s) use of a ligature to ascertain how Service User B had been affected by this.

 

4. Between 8 February 2013 and 10 November 2013 you were responsible for Service User C, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Not Proved.

c) Not Proved.

d) Did not ensure a PEP was completed and/or on record;

e) Not Proved.

f) Not Proved.

g) Did not complete and / or record a Chronology on the case file in a timely way or at all;

h) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

 

5. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User D, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales

b) Withdrawn.

c) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System;

 

6. Between 8 February 2013 and 15 October 2013 you were responsible for Service Users E and F, and you;

a) Did not take appropriate or any action in light of the risk factors in these cases;

b) Not Proved.

c) Not Proved.

d) Not Proved.

e) Not Proved.

 

7. Between 8 February 2013 and 4 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User G, and you;

a) Not Proved.

b) Did not take appropriate and/or agreed action in a timely manner.

 

8. From 8 February 2013 you were responsible for Service User H, and you did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System, in that:

a) Not Proved.

b) you did not record on Care First in a timely way or at all statutory visits that you had undertaken.

 

9. Between 8 February 2013 and 17 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User I, and you;

a) Did not complete and / or record a Pathway Plan in an adequate and/or timely manner;

b) Did not provide adequate support and/or planning to Service User I and his carers;

c) Not Proved.

 

10. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User J, and you:

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Not Proved.

c) Did not complete and / or record a Chronology on the case file;

d) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

 

11. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User K, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Did not complete actions from a previous Review;

c) Did not address a risk issue in relation to a previous assessment;

d) Did not maintain accurate case notes on the Care First Computer System.

 

12. Between 8 February 2013 and 28 October 2013 you were responsible for Service User L, and you;

a) Did not undertake statutory visits and/or record these within the correct timescales;

b) Did not update Service User L’s care plan;

 

13. From 8 February 2013, you were responsible for Service User M, and you did not visit Service User M on a regular basis;

 

14. From 8 February 2013 you inappropriately kept confidential information in relation to around 36 Service Users outside of the office.

 

15. The matters set out in paragraphs 1- 14 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

 

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

Finding

Preliminary matters

Service

1. The Panel heard representations from Mr Claughton on behalf of the HCPC who submitted that good service has been effected. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor.
 
2. The Panel was satisfied that the notice of hearing dated 10 July 2017, which was in the proper format, was sent on that date to the Registrant at her registered address by first class post in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Health and Care Professions Council (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”). The Panel therefore found good service.

Proceeding in Absence

3. The Panel decided that all reasonable steps had been taken to serve the notice of hearing under Rule 6(1) of the Rules for the purposes of Rule 11, which allows Panel to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Mr Claughton submitted that the Panel should proceed in the light of the Registrant’s lack of engagement with the proceedings. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor who referred to the case of R v Jones [2002] UKHL 5
and R v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162. The Panel also took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note on Proceeding in Absence.

4. The Panel was aware that the discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel took into account the potential disadvantage to the Registrant if it proceeds today, but took into account that the Registrant did not attend the substantive hearing in February 2017. In the absence of a request for an adjournment from the Registrant, there is no indication that she would attend at a future date if today’s hearing is adjourned. The Panel took into account the public interest in proceeding with this mandatory review and concluded that it was in the interests of justice to proceed to review the substantive order expeditiously, in light of the public protection and public interest issues raised by this case.

5. The Panel therefore decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.  

Background

6. The Registrant was employed by the Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) from 1986 and began to work as a Social Worker for NCC in 2006. In approximately October 2013 concerns were raised about the Registrant’s work, and audits of cases allocated to her were carried out. NCC undertook a disciplinary investigation into the Registrant’s work. The concerns about the Registrant’s work gave rise to an allegation brought by the HCPC which was heard at a substantive hearing before a Conduct and Competence Committee on 7-10 and 13-14 February 2017.

7. The panel at the substantive hearing found the following facts proved: 1, 2(a) - (e), 3(a) – (d), 4(a), 4(d), 4(g), 4(h), 5(a), 5(c), 6(a), 7(b), 8(b), 9(a), 9(b), 10\9a), 10(c), 10(d), 11(a) - (d), 12(a) - (b), 13 and 14.

8. That panel found that the facts found proved were sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct, and found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired. A sanction of a Suspension Order for a period of 6 months was imposed. That panel also observed that a panel reviewing the sanction would be likely to be assisted by a reflective analysis written by the Registrant of the substantive panel’s findings.

9. The Panel today is conducting a review of the 6 month Suspension Order which was imposed on 14 February 2017.

Decision

10. The Panel heard from Mr Claughton who submitted that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, and in the context of no engagement from the Registrant, her fitness to practise currently remains impaired. With regard to sanction, Mr Claughton suggested that the Panel may consider an extension to the current Suspension Order but also highlighted the option of a Striking Off Order which may be justified in the light of the Registrant’s lack of engagement. The Panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor who referred to the case of CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin). The Panel also took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note on “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired’. 
 
11. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The Panel was aware that the issue of impairment is a matter for its independent professional judgment, taking into account all of the circumstances before it. The Panel firstly took into account the reasons for the finding of impairment of the previous Panel. The Registrant has not engaged with the regulatory process, and has no provided any evidence of reflection, insight or remediation. In the light of the absence of such evidence, and having considered the case of Grant, the Panel concluded that the Registrant is liable to put service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the future, and  that there remains a real risk of repetition of the misconduct in particulars 2-14 of the allegation. The Panel was also of the view that the wider public interest was important in this case, particularly in the light of the Registrant’s continuing lack of engagement with her regulator. Thus the need to uphold professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. The Panel therefore concluded the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

12. With regard to sanction, the Panel was aware that this was also a matter for its independent professional judgment, and that the public interest should be at the forefront of its thinking, which includes protection of the public as well as wider public interest. The aim of sanction is not punitive.

13. The Panel first considered a Caution Order and concluded that the misconduct in this case is too serious for such a sanction to be proportionate. Further, it would not protect the public by restricting the Registrant’s practise.

14. The Panel then considered a Conditions of Practice Order and concluded that this would not be appropriate. While the Registrant’s failings are in principle capable of being addressed, due to the Registrant’s lack of engagement with these regulatory proceedings there is no indication that she would be willing to comply with conditions. This is particularly so in the light of the lack of evidence of any remediation achieved by the Registrant, despite a clear indication from the previous Panel that today’s Panel would be assisted by a reflective statement from her.

15. The Panel then considered a Suspension Order and concluded that this was an appropriate sanction. While the Registrant has a history of non-engagement, the Panel took into account the 6 month period of the Suspension Order imposed; it allowed less than the maximum period to the Registrant to provide evidence of insight and remediation. The Panel concluded that a further extension was appropriate to allow the Registrant to do so. In coming to this decision, the Panel noted the  “powerful mitigating factors” taken into account by the previous panel as well as its observation that that a striking off order was “disproportionate…the failings were neither reckless nor calculated and a striking off order would not give recognition to the very important context of the misconduct…”. 

16. The Panel considered the option of a Striking Off Order but felt it would be disproportionate at this stage. The Panel noted that the previous panel had not regarded the Registrant’s failings as reckless and that they could be remediated. In the Panel’s view, a 12 month suspension order would give the Registrant a reasonable length of time to recognise and seek ways to redress her misconduct and seek a route back to social work, should she wish to.

17. The Panel therefore decided to extend the Suspension Order for a period of 12 months to take effect on the expiry of the initial 6 months. This is on the basis of public protection and to uphold the wider public interest.

18. The Panel wishes to make clear that at the next review of the Suspension Order, the reviewing Panel will be assisted by:

i. the Registrant’s engagement with these proceedings as well as attendance at the next hearing;

ii. the steps the Registrant has taken by way of remediation;

iii. a reflective piece written by the Registrant demonstrating her insight and remorse into the misconduct found and what she has learned since and what she would do differently in the future;

iv. any references or testimonials from any employment, whether paid or unpaid.

Order

The Registrar is directed to impose a further Suspension Order for a period of 12 months upon expiry of the existing Order.

Notes

The Order will take effect on 14 September 2017 and will be reviewed before its expiry on 14 September 2018.   

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mrs Jeanette Hamer

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/08/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
10/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
07/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended