Mrs Jennifer Savage
(As considered and found at the Substantive Hearing on 30 November – 02 December 2015)
During the course of your employment as a Social Worker for Bexley Council between 2008 and June 2014:
1. On 12 May 2014, upon receipt of safeguarding concerns regarding Child X, you:
(a) Did not appropriately act upon the potential risk to Child X, by:
(i) not completing an 87a form to refer the matter to the police until you were asked to do so by a colleague on 13 May 2014:
(ii) not commencing a section 47 investigation on 12 May 2014
(iii) allowing Child X’s father to take him to hospital.
(b) Did not respond appropriately, in that you stated you ‘‘wouldn’t be able to do any more than the child’s father was already doing’’ or words to that effect.
(c) Did not seek management advice.
2. In relation to 1 above you placed Child X at potential risk of harm.
3. The matters described in paragraphs 1-2 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.
4. By reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.
Service of Notice and Proceeding in the Registrant’s Absence
1. The HCPC provided evidence that Notice of today’s hearing had been sent by way of letter on 18 July 2017, and by amended notice on 18 August 2017 regarding the Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA), to the Registrant’s registered address on the HCPC register. This contained the full, correct details of today’s hearing and had been posted in sufficient time in advance of the hearing. The Panel was satisfied that the rules relating to service of Notice have been complied with. The Panel noted that an e-mail had also been sent to the Registrant.
2. The HCPC made an application to proceed with the hearing in the Registrant’s absence. It submitted that there was a public interest in the hearing proceeding and that coincided with the interests of the Registrant who had signed the VRA and returned it to the HCPC. It was submitted that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself from the hearing.
3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing then the Panel has the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. He reminded the Panel that it should exercise that discretion with care. The Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the HCPTS Guidance Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant and to case of GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162. This case makes clear that the first question the Panel should ask is whether all reasonable efforts have been made to serve the Registrant with notice. Thereafter, if the Panel is satisfied that proper notice has been given, the discretion whether or not to proceed must be exercised having regard to all the circumstances of which the Panel is aware with fairness to the Registrant being a prime consideration. Fairness to the HCPC and the interests of the public must also be taken into account.
4. The Panel agreed to proceed in the Registrant’s absence as it was satisfied that it is both in the public interest and in the Registrant’s interest to do so. In reaching this decision, the Panel noted there has been no request for an adjournment and it balanced fairness to the Registrant with fairness to the HCPC and the public interest. It concluded that the Registrant has voluntarily absented herself and no useful purpose would be served by adjourning the hearing. The Panel took account of the fact that the VRA has been agreed and signed by the Registrant and returned to the HCPC. In these circumstances the Panel is satisfied that it is appropriate to proceed in her absence.
5. The Registrant is a qualified Social Worker and was employed by the London Borough of Bexley in 2008. From 2009 onwards she was employed as a Principal Social Worker in the Disabled Children’s Services. In this role she was responsible for assessing and providing support to children with disabilities and their families. She worked alongside other professionals in the health, education and social work areas to coordinate the assessment of needs of families and to develop support packages.
6. The HCPC received a complaint regarding the Registrant on the 14 May 2014 which concerned the fact that Child X had attended school that morning with an apparent non accidental injury. Child X was 6 years old with an autistic spectrum disorder who was unable to express himself verbally or hold a conversation. Child X attended a special education needs unit at school. Child X’s father had some health issues which meant caring for his children was difficult. Child X’s stepmother was young and had previously been in care and had two other small children.
7. At a Final hearing before a Panel of the HCPC on 2 December 2015 the allegations were all found proved, a finding of misconduct was made and the Registrant ‘s fitness to practise found impaired by reason of her misconduct. A Conditions of Practice Order for 12 months was imposed and was replaced with a 9 month Suspension Order at the Review hearing on 25 November 2016.
8. Ms Shenton submitted that the proposed VRA secured the appropriate level of public protection and would not be detrimental to the wider public interest. She referred the Panel to the terms of the VRA and explained the background to the case. She reminded the Panel of the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent.
9. Ms Shenton stressed the importance for the Panel of considering the public interest and protection of the public. On public protection, Ms Shenton submitted that removal of the Registrant from the Register would clearly protect the public. She submitted that findings of fact, grounds and a finding of impairment of fitness to practice by reason of misconduct had been made at the final hearing and that the Registrant had been subject to restrictions on her practice for 21 months. The restrictions imposed at the final and review hearings had been published on the HCPC website. Ms Shenton submitted that the public interest had been satisfied and that a VRA was now an appropriate and expeditious way to proceed.
10. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to importance of the public interest and it applied the guidance in the HCPTS Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent.
11. The Panel carefully considered the HCPC’s submissions and considered the HCPTS Practice Note. The Panel was satisfied that the proposed VRA provides the appropriate level of public protection. It protects the public as the Registrant will be removed from the Register and will be unable to practise as a Social Worker. Further, the public interest has been satisfied by holding a full public hearing where evidence was presented, factual findings made, findings of misconduct and current impairment made and a sanction imposed. There has also been a review hearing where a Suspension Order was imposed.
12. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the proposed VRA protects the public and does not damage the wider public interest. The Panel’s approval of the VRA would not undermine that. The terms of the VRA, agreed and signed by both the Registrant and the HCPC, are sufficient and appropriately maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process.
13. The Panel agreed to the matter being concluded by means of the VRA and revokes the Suspension Order presently in place.
No notes available
History of Hearings for Mrs Jennifer Savage
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|24/08/2017||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Voluntary Removal agreed|
|25/11/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|
|30/11/2015||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Conditions of Practice|