Miss Catherine Margaret Sigley

: Social worker

: SW20950

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 24/08/2017 End: 12:30 24/08/2017

: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 23 - 26 February 2015:

 

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Stoke-on-Trent

City Council, between March 2012 and March 2013, you:

 

1. Did not meet the following deadlines set by the Court:

 

a) statements in relation to case A, filed over 3 months after the original

deadline set by the Court;

 

b) statements in relation to case B, filed around 1 month after the

deadline set by the Court in August 2012;

 

c) statements in relation to case C, filed over 1 month after the deadline

set by the Court in November 2012.

 

2. Did not conduct and/or record numerous statutory visits between May

2012 and March 2013.

 

3. Did not complete Personal Education Plans within the required timescales

in that Personal Education Plans or reviews were outstanding and/or not

recorded for the following service users:

 

a) D

 

b) E

 

c) F

 

d) G

 

e) H

 

f) I

 

4. Did not keep accurate records in respect of the following cases:

 

a) in case A, you did not record anything on the CareFirst case file for

the period of time you were allocated the case file;

 

b) Not Proved

 

c) Not Proved

 

d) Not Proved

 

e) in case L, you did not close the case on the CareFirst System within

a reasonable timeframe.

 

5. Provided misleading and inaccurate information and/or did not provide

relevant information to the Court in relation to case A as you:

 

a) did not ensure the Court was informed that the Fostering Assessment

for the proposed carer for A had been put on hold;

 

b) Not Proved

 

6. Provided misleading and inaccurate information to line managers and

colleagues as you:

 

a) did not inform your line managers and colleagues that you were

behind with work in the cases of A and C;

 

b) allowed your line managers and colleagues to believe that you had

almost completed your work in the cases of A and C.

 

7. Your actions at paragraphs 5 and 6 were dishonest

 

The Panel of substantive hearing found particulars 1(a), 1(b), 1(c), 2, 3, 4(a), 4(e), 5(a), 6 and 7 proved. The Panel concluded that of the proven particulars, 1 - 4 amounted to lack of competence and particulars 5, 6 and 7 amounted to misconduct. The Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired and imposed a suspension order for a period of 12 months as a sanction.
The Suspension Order was reviewed on 18 February 2016. The reviewing panel replaced the suspension with an 18 month conditions of practice order.

Finding

Background:
1. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker by Stoke-on-Trent City Council from June 2006 until her resignation in November 2013. In 2008 she joined the Children in Care (CIC) Team. Concerns were raised about her practice in or around 2012. On 19 March 2013 she was suspended pending an investigation by her Principal Manager, HM. In July 2013, following a disciplinary hearing, during the course of which the Registrant made a number of admissions to alleged failures,  she was dismissed for gross misconduct on grounds that included her having knowingly misled her colleagues and advocates in court proceedings. On appeal it was found that there was no deliberate falsehood and that the delays were contributed to by personal circumstances and a lack of support from management. She was reinstated with a final written warning but subsequently resigned. The case was referred to the HCPC.
2. The Panel at the Final hearing found the facts proved. It found the Registrant’s actions were dishonest and that the facts found proved amounted to misconduct and lack of competence. As a result, the Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired. That Panel determined that the Registrant’s failings were “persistent, repeated and occurred over an extensive period of time” involving a significant amount of service users and a range of tasks that were basic and fundamental for any social worker.
3. The Panel at the 2015 Final hearing determined that a Suspension Order of 12 months was the appropriate and proportionate sanction to impose. On review on 18 February 2016, a Reviewing Panel determined to impose an 18 months Conditions of Practice Order and it is this order that the Panel today is reviewing.
Submissions for the HCPC:
4. Mr Demissie submitted that any health matters should be heard in private.  The Panel allowed that application and the Registrant indicated that she agreed and understood.
5. Mr Demissie summarised the background to the review today.  He indicated to the Panel that the Registrant had previously raised health issues as impacting on her practice and these were considered and taken account of by the Panel at the 2015 Final hearing.
6. Mr Demissie told the Panel that the Review Panel in February 2016 heard from the Registrant under oath. It decided that she was remediating her fitness to practice and it determined that she was no longer impaired by reason of her misconduct but remained impaired by reason of her lack of competence.  It imposed a Conditions of Practice Order relating to her practise if she worked as a Social worker and relating to her health. Mr Demissie said the Registrant remained under the care of her GP and remained in a support worker role at the Rossendale Trust but was not working as a Social Worker.
7. Mr Demissie told the Panel that the HCPC was of the view that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired.  There was no medical information from the Registrant. He submitted there was no health finding and the focus for the Panel was therefore lack of competence.  He submitted that Conditions of Practice may still be workable but a suspension or Striking Off order may also be suitable.
The Registrant’s Evidence:
8. The Registrant took the affirmation.  She told the Panel she was still on medication as her health had deteriorated after the last hearing. She was still seeing her GP. She also told the Panel she was benefiting from support from friends and family.
9. The Registrant said she was feeling much more confident and had re-evaluated here career and her life.  She also said she was intending to be open and honest with any future employers. She also said she was considering a new career.  
10. The Registrant said she was content for Conditions of Practice to remain in place but intended to explore voluntary removal from the Register.  She told the Panel she had enjoyed her Social Work job but she now wanted to “let go” and move on.
11. In response to questions from the Panel, the Registrant said she understood her health condition and had developed coping strategies.  Her employers were fully aware of her health condition.  She explained she was presently working as a waking night support worker working with adults with disabilities and had undertaken various training courses in that role. The Registrant apologised for not providing any documentary evidence about her health or from her employers, but could do so if required.
Decision:
12. The Panel carefully considered all the documentary and oral evidence before it, including the submissions from Mr Demissie and the Registrant’s evidence. 
13. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive reappraisal of the Registrant to determine if she is fit to return to unrestricted practice. Its role is not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations nor to go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgement, and, if necessary, carefully consider the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy. It must act fairly and proportionately and keep in mind the public interest at all times. 
14. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of her lack of competence. The Panel considered the Registrant to be open and honest and noted she is considering various options for her career. The Panel noted that the Registrant wishes to explore Voluntary Removal from the Register, which is a matter for her to now pursue with the HCPC.
15. The Panel have before it no evidence of any remediation of the Registrant’s lack of competence and the Registrant has not been working as a Social Worker.  It took account of that fact that she experienced some health difficulties after the last Review hearing. The Panel noted that the Registrant has not breached any of the Conditions and none require her to provide evidence of her health.  Accordingly, the Panel determined that the Registrant remains impaired by reason of her lack of competence. 
16. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired by reason of her lack of competence the Panel went on to consider sanction. The Panel took into account the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy.  The Panel considered that taking no action or imposing a Caution Order would not be appropriate or proportionate in this case given the findings.
17. The Panel carefully considered the current Conditions of Practice Order.  It determined that the current order was a sufficient, appropriate and proportionate response. The Panel determined that these conditions were workable, proportionate and realistic and would serve to protect the public, the public interest and provide the Registrant with a framework of support should she decide to return to a social work role.
18. The Panel did give consideration to a Suspension but considered that this would not to be appropriate or proportionate at this stage.
19. The Panel considers that a 18 month Conditions of Practice Order would be appropriate in all the circumstances to allow the Registrant to explore her options including allowing her to return to social work subject to appropriate safeguards.
20. At the Review hearing the Panel may be assisted by an up to date report on health from the Registrant’s GP or other health practitioner.  It would also be assisted by information of any recent continuing professional development and/or work performance, and any other relevant material from the Registrant. This information should be provided by the Registrant to the HCPC at least 14 days before the next Review Hearing.

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 Catherine Margaret Sigley, when engaged in a social work role must comply with the following Conditions of Practice:


1. In relation to your ongoing health condition, you must remain under the care of your General Practitioner and/or other health specialist and inform them that you are subject to these conditions.
2. You must inform your General Practitioner and/or occupational health specialists about these conditions of practice and authorise that person to provide the HCPC with information about your health and any treatment you are receiving.
3. You must keep your professional commitments as a Social Worker under review and limit your professional practice in accordance with the advice of your General Practitioner and/or other health specialist.
4. You must cease practising as a Social Worker immediately if you are advised to do so by your General Practitioner and/or occupational health specialists.
5. You must promptly inform HCPC if you take up employment as a Social Worker.
6. You must promptly inform HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you in your role as a Social Worker by your employer.
7. When employed as a Social Worker, 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 6 weeks of the operative date when such person becomes your supervisor. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.
8. When employed as a Social Worker, you must meet with your supervisor and formulate 
a) A Continuing Professional Development Plan (CPDP) designed to address the shortcomings in your practice. 
b) You must successfully complete courses, within the context of social work, on time management, record keeping, and confident and assertive communication.
9. Within 3 months of obtaining work as a Social Worker you must forward a copy of your CPDP to the HCPC.
10. When engaged as a Social Worker you must meet with your supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your CPDP.
11. If engaged as a Social Worker, you must provide a report from your supervisor about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your CPDP not later than 28 days and not earlier than 56 days before this order is reviewed. This should include testimonials where possible.
12. 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 social work
b) any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with as a Social Worker (at the time of application)
c) any prospective employer seeking to employ you as a Social Worker ( at the time of application)
13. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions

The order imposed today will apply from the expiry of the current order on 26 September 2017.



 

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Catherine Margaret Sigley

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/08/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
18/02/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
23/02/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended