Miss Isha Shona Gabriel
This version has been redacted for pubic consumption.
1. The Panel was satisfied that the rules for the service of the notice of hearing were complied with.
Application to proceed in private
2. The Panel, after receiving legal advice, referring to the practice note (“Conducting Hearings in Private”) and giving the matter careful consideration, granted the HCPC’s application that this hearing be conducted in private.
3. This is a review of the suspension order made at a hearing which concluded on 25 August 2015 when the (amended) allegation was found proved. It was last reviewed on 19 August 2016. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker in Children's Social Care, Intensive Family Support at West Sussex County Council (WSCC) from 2009.
4. After a period of sick leave, the Registrant was suspended on medical grounds whilst there was a further assessment.
5. The matter was then referred to the HCPC and a Final Hearing held on 24-25 August 2015. The Final Hearing panel heard evidence from Mrs F, the Registrant’s former line manager and Dr C, who had undertaken an assessment of the Registrant. The Allegation was found proved. The Final Hearing panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her ill health. At the Sanction stage the Final Hearing panel concluded that in the light of the evidence it had heard there were no workable or practicable conditions which could be formulated. The Registrant's precise state of health, nor her ability to comply with any conditions, was unclear and conditions of practice could create a further burden for the Registrant and adversely affect her health. The Final Hearing panel therefore determined that the only proportionate sanction was a Suspension Order for a period of twelve months.
6. The first reviewing panel heard evidence from the Registrant and identified evidence which a future reviewing panel might find helpful to support the Registrant’s position that she is able to return to safe practice, namely:
• A record of courses attended plus supporting certificates of attendance.
7. In undertaking its task today the Panel is conducting a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant’s current abilities with a view to establishing whether she is now fit to return to unrestricted practice. This Panel is not able to go behind the previous panels’ findings. This Panel has taken into account all documentation placed before it and has heard and given appropriate weight to the evidence given by the Registrant at the hearing. The Panel accepted advice from the Legal Assessor to consider the HCPTS Practice Notes entitled “Article 30 Reviews” and “Health Allegations” and the Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP).
8. The Registrant had informed the DVLA about her condition and her driving licence was suspended but has now been reinstated from 1 November 2016.
9. Since May 2016 the Registrant has worked for MENCAP. A letter from Mr Dennis Shattell (MENCAP Locality Manager) dated 2 August 2017, states she has been a Facilitator working with adults with learning disabilities and “…has a very good professional working relationship with her colleagues and management”.
10. The Registrant has attended a number of courses provided by MENCAP. These assisted with her maintaining some of her social work knowledge, in particular relating to safeguarding. She has provided a list of courses attended, dated 5 August 2017.
11. She has been offered a post as a Family Support Worker for Solace Women’s Aid in Lambeth, from 23 August 2017 to February 2018 for 37.5 hours per week.
12. The HCPC has made no specific recommendations, as it is a matter for the Panel’s judgment as to whether there is a current and continuing health issue and whether an appropriate restriction is required.
13. The Panel was impressed by the openness and candour of the Registrant’s evidence.
14. The Panel has received a detailed reflective piece from the Registrant dated 9 August 2017 and a testimonial from the Minister of her Church.
15. The Panel acknowledges the Registrant’s efforts to accept the previous reviewing panel’s suggestions as to evidence which might support her return to practice.
16. The Registrant has complied with the majority of these suggestions and her health has improved. The Panel found her to be open and frank in evidence, and she demonstrated a degree of insight and self-awareness.
17. However she also struggled to focus in answering some of the Panel’s questions and to be realistic in respect of the challenges of Social Work practice and the role of a Social Worker. In the Panel’s view her health is not yet sufficiently robust to return to unrestricted practice. Her recovery has not yet been tested in a more challenging work environment and she was ambivalent in her evidence in relation to adjustments in her work environment required to protect the public and her own health. The Panel found there was a lack of full recognition of her need for a continuing support network to ensure safe practice in a workplace.
18. The Panel received and took the advice of the Legal Assessor regarding the sanctions process and the ISP.
19. The Panel has approached the issue of sanction on the basis that a sanction is only to be imposed or continued to the extent that it is required to protect the public and her own health. To ensure that this principle is applied, it is first necessary to decide if the finding of current impairment requires the imposition of any sanction. If it does, then the available sanctions must be considered in an ascending order of seriousness until one is reached that satisfies the proper sanction aim. The Panel confirms that it has applied this approach in reaching its decision.
20. In the Panel’s judgement this case is too serious to result in no continuing sanction being imposed, and it also considers that the making of a caution order is not appropriate. However, the Panel is satisfied that the Registrant’s health issues are capable of being addressed and that she has the ability to successfully remediate them. The Panel considers that it would be disproportionate to continue to prevent her from practising as a Social Worker.
21. The conclusion of the Panel is that a Conditions of Practice Order is the most appropriate and proportionate means to protect the public and allow the Registrant to return to safe practice as a Social Worker. A Conditions of Practice Order is necessary to ensure that there can be confidence that any future work as a Social Worker is undertaken without a risk to the public or the Registrant and the Panel has determined that the appropriate length of this Order is 18 months.
22. In common with all Conditions of Practice Orders, the Order made in this case will be reviewed before it expires. In order that the reviewing Panel is able to undertake a thorough review, the present Panel has included conditions designed to ensure that there will be independent information available about the way in which the Registrant is practising.
23. This Panel has identified evidence which it believes a future reviewing panel might find helpful. This in no way binds that future reviewing panel nor does it restrict the Registrant from providing a wider range of information to that panel.
24. Evidence the Registrant should consider presenting to support her position that she is able to return to unrestricted practice at the next review are:
• A report from her Line Manager detailing her progress to date.
• Copies of her Personal Development Plan and any associated documentation.
Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 18 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Miss Isha Shona Gabriel, must comply with the following conditions of practice upon taking up any role as a Registered Social Worker:
1. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within 14 days of taking up employment. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.
2. Within 28 days of taking up employment, you must register with and remain under the care of a general practitioner and the occupational health specialist of your employer and inform him or her that you are subject to these conditions.
3. You must inform your general practitioner and occupational health specialist of these conditions of practice and authorise those persons to provide the HCPC with information about your health and any treatment you are receiving.
4. You must keep your professional commitments under review and limit your professional practice in accordance with the advice of your general practitioner and occupational health specialist of your employer.
5. You must cease practising immediately if you are advised to do so by your general practitioner and occupational health specialist of your employer.
6. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your current employer or take up any other or further employment.
7. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.
8. 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).
9. You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the needs of your return to professional practice.
10. Within three months of taking up employment you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.
11. You must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
12. You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
13. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.