Mr Matthew Todd

: Social worker

: SW35750

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 13/09/2017 End: 17:00 13/09/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

The following allegation was found proved by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 13 – 16 September 2016:


During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Torbay Council you:
1) Between January 2013 and August 2014 undertook work for Devon County Council without the knowledge or consent of your manager
2) Did not keep accurate records in that:
a) In relation to Case 1 you:
i. Recorded the same case notes for the visit on 18 April 2014 as the visit on 1st December 2013;
ii. Recorded that a visit took place on Good Friday (18 April 2014) although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day;
iii. Recorded that a visit took place on 29 May 2014 although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day;
iv. Recorded that a visit took place on 30 June 2014 although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day.
b) In relation to Case 2 you recorded that a visit took place on 3 April 2014 although you were off on sick leave.
c) In relation to Case 3 you:
i. Recorded the same case notes for the visit on 18 April 2014 as the visit on 29 January 2014;
ii. Recorded that a visit took place on Good Friday (18 April 2014) although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day;
iii. Recorded that a visit took place on 2 June 2014 although the carer stated that it took place on 10 June 2014;
d) In relation to Case 4 you:
i. Recorded that a visit took place on May Day bank holiday (5 May 2014) although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day;
ii. Recorded that a visit took place on 18 March 2014 although the foster carer stated that no visit took place on this day;
e) In relation to Case 5 you:
i. Recorded notes for a visit on 9 June 2014 although it does not appear in the calendar and contains inaccurate information.
ii. Did not produce notes for a visit in the calendar on 11 July 2014.
f) (Not found proved)
3) Between approximately December 2013 and August 2014, you did not carry out the required number of visits in relation to the Following cases:
a) Case 1
b) Case 3
c) Case 4
d) Case 6
4) Your actions as set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 were dishonest
5) The matters described in paragraphs 1-4 constitute misconduct and or lack of competence
6) By reason of that misconduct and or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters:
1. The HCPC was represented by Mr Aarish Pandya. The Registrant was not present or represented.            
Service / Proceeding in Absence
2. The Panel was satisfied that notice of today’s hearing had been properly served on the Registrant in terms of rules 3 and 6 of the Conduct and Competence (Procedure) Rules 2003 and thereafter considered Mr Pandya’s application to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel is aware that its discretion to proceed in absence is one which should be exercised with the utmost care and caution. In reaching its decision, the Panel has had regard to the HCPTS’s Practice Note on Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant. The Panel has also taken account of the fact that this is a mandatory review and this order must be reviewed prior to its expiry on 14 October 2017. The Panel notes that the Registrant did not attend the substantive hearing. In addition the Panel has had sight of an email dated 31 August 2017 from the Registrant enclosing a document and asking that this is placed before the Panel at the review hearing. The Registrant is therefore aware of today’s hearing. There has been no request for an adjournment. The Panel is of the view that the Registrant has voluntarily absented himself and would be unlikely to attend at a future date, if the matter were adjourned. In these circumstances the Panel has agreed to proceed in his absence as it is satisfied that it is both in the public interest and the Registrant’s interest to do so
Background:
3. On 16 September 2016 a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of  misconduct and imposed a twelve month Suspension Order. The Panel’s findings related to undertaking work for another employer without the knowledge or consent of his manager, failing to keep accurate records, failing to carry out the required visits and acting dishonestly. The Panel today is conducting a review of that suspension order in terms of Article 30(1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.
At the Review Hearing today
4. The Panel heard from Mr Pandya who outlined the background to the case and the circumstances which led to the imposition of the Suspension Order. Mr Pandya advised the Panel that the Registrant had submitted a detailed reflective piece in which he recognised that he had both a moral and contractual obligation to notify his line managers of his second employment and also recognised the impact of his actions on the foster carers and children with whom he was working.  Mr Pandya stated that the Registrant appeared to have reflected on his actions and had now shown a great deal of insight. He advised that the Registrant had re-trained as a teacher although it was clear from his written submission that he was keen to return to the social work profession.  He reminded the Panel that the original panel had no concerns about his capability and that he appeared to be a competent and professional social worker. He advised that the Panel had to consider whether the finding of dishonesty had been remedied by the level of insight shown in the reflective piece.

Decision:
5. The task of the Panel today is not to go behind the decision of the previous panel but to determine whether or not the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired and if there is current impairment, what, if any, order should be made when the current order expires. The Panel has considered the submissions of Mr Pandya and the written submission of the Registrant together with the advice of the Legal Assessor. The original panel found that there was no evidence of remediation or insight and as a consequence there was a high risk that the Registrant would repeat his misconduct. That panel also suggested to the Registrant that a future reviewing panel may be assisted by a written reflective piece; information about any social work undertaken since leaving  Torbay Council; character references from professionals relating to his work as a social worker and details of any training and CPD undertaken to maintain his professional skills and knowledge.
6. The Panel has had sight of the written reflective piece submitted by the Registrant reflecting on his misconduct and the impact of his misconduct. In this he clearly demonstrates insight into his conduct and has fully reflected on his failings. While the Panel is impressed with level of reflection and insight demonstrated by the Registrant, he has not produced any independent verification of his current circumstances and in the absence of this, the Panel cannot be satisfied that he has fully remediated his dishonesty.  In these circumstances the Panel has concluded that his fitness to practise remains impaired, and that an Order remains necessary.
7. The Panel next considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity. The Panel is aware that the primary function of any sanction is to address public safety from the perspective of the risk the Registrant may pose to those using or needing his services in the future and determine what degree of public protection is required. The Panel must also give appropriate weight to the wider public interest which includes the deterrent effect on other registrants, the reputation of the profession and public confidence in the regulatory process.
8. The Panel considered that to impose a Caution would not be sufficient to address the wider public interest considerations or to protect the public, in the absence of independent verification of the Registrant’s current circumstances and given the risk of repetition identified by the previous panel. The Panel also considered that a Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate in circumstances where there is a finding of dishonesty.
9. The Panel next considered extending the current Suspension Order. The Panel is satisfied that this would achieve the necessary degree of public protection and that it would also give the Registrant a further opportunity to provide evidence to demonstrate to a future reviewing Panel that he has fully addressed the matters which brought him before the HCPC. The Panel has concluded that this would be a proportionate sanction in all the circumstances.
10. This Order will be reviewed by another panel prior to its expiry. That panel may be assisted if the Registrant were to attend the future review hearing and produce professional references from his current employers attesting to his honesty, integrity, also to his standard of record keeping and his overall performance. The Panel considers that a period of four months would be appropriate and would allow the Registrant sufficient time to produce the documentation necessary to support his current circumstances.

Order

The Panel directs the Registrar to extend the current Suspension Order for a period of four months from its expiry in terms of Article 30(1)(a) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001.


The order imposed today will apply from 14 October 2017.


This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 14 February 2018.

Notes

This was a substantive review of a 12 month Suspension Order originally imposed on 16 September 2016.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Matthew Todd

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
05/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
13/09/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
13/09/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended