Mr Daniel Beaudoin

: Social worker

: SW91824

: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 19/09/2017 End: 17:00 29/09/2017

: Grand Harbour Hotel, West Quay Road, Southampton, SO15 1AG

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

FTP35121

During the course of your employment as a registered Social Worker and whilst placed with Somerset County Council:

1. On a date in February 2014 you did not disclose to Somerset County Council that you were the subject of fitness to practise proceedings by the Scottish Social Services Council.

2. Your actions as described at paragraph 1 were dishonest.

3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired.

FTP32050

1. On 13 November 2014, you were found guilty of misconduct by the Scottish Social Services Care Council in respect of the charges set out below (The SSSCC Charges).

2. That decision is a determination within the meaning of Article 22(1) (a) (v) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001;

3. By reason of that determination, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Schedule

The SSSC charges:

Charge 1: While employed as a Team Leader at Argyll & Bute Council the Registrant did:

a. Between 1 April 2012 and 31 October 2012 display bullying and intimidating behaviour towards the following colleagues:
i. AA
ii. BB
iii. CC
iv. DD
v. EE

b. On 11 April 2012 behave in an inappropriate matter in the presence of his colleague CC by kicking the door to his office shut.

c. Between 1 June 2012 and 31 August 2012 breach Argyll & Bute Council’s Lone Working Policy by:
i. sending a newly qualified worker namely his said colleague CC on a home visit to Family A alone, without consideration of a risk assessment as indicated by Argyll & Bute Council’s Carefirst Red Flat system. 
ii. not considering the safety of his said colleague EE during a meeting with her on 7 June 2012 and by allowing her to meet service user B alone.

d. In July 2012 fail to ensure a pre-birth assessment was carried out in relation to Family A, despite instruction from management, namely [name redacted].

e. Between 1 March 2012 and 30 September 2012 create a culture of fear and intimidation by operating a system that restricted access to him within his office by members of his team.

f. On 22 August 2012 breach Argyll and Bute Council’s Assessment and Care Planning Guidance on Child Protection Visits by instructing his said colleague EE, being a social work assistant, to undertake a child protection visit to Family C.

g. On 22 August 2012 fail to follow Child Protection Procedures by failing to ensure a pre-birth assessment was carried out and to proceed with the initial referral tripartite process in relation to Family C.

h. On 3 September 2012 send his said colleague EE, being a social work assistant who was not qualified to deal with any child protection issues that could arise to a prebirth multi-agency meeting with regards to Family F.

i. On or around 19 April 2012 leave the said social work assistant EE to progress a child protection referral in relation to historic allegations of abuse, following a referral received from a school in relation to child D.

j. Between March and August 2012 in relation to Family E, as Chair of the Core Group for Family E fail:
i. to initiate a Child Protection Case Conference in respect of a domestic abuse referral.
ii. to check the risk assessment prepared by colleague BB was accurate and up to date.
iii. to ensure that the Core Group had all of the relevant information to enable an informed assessment to be made at the Child Protection Case Conference Review.
 

FTP50269 

During the course of your employment as a registered Social Worker, and while placed with Isle of Wight Council:

1. Between approximately 14 September 2015 and 14 June 2016:

a) you did not disclose to the Isle of Wight Council that you were subject to a sanction on your practice following a determination by the Scottish Social Care Council.

b) you did not disclose to the Isle of Wight Council that you were the subject of fitness to practise proceedings by the Health and Care Professions Council.

2. Your actions as described at paragraph 1 are dishonest.

3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters

Half Time Application

1. This is an application by the Registrant that there is no case to answer in respect of Allegations 1 and 2 of FTP35121 (aka Somerset matter) and Allegation 2 of FTP50269 (aka the Isle of Wight matters).

2. The Panel took into account the submissions by both parties and it accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

3. The Panel also considered the Practice Note produced by the HCPTS entitled “Half Time Submissions”. When considering this application, the Panel approached its task by considering the relevant evidence in respect of those particular charges.

4. At this stage of the proceedings the Panel is considering whether the Allegations are capable of proof. It is considering whether sufficient evidence has been adduced which, if accepted, could find the Allegations proved. It is not considering whether the Panel would find the Allegations proved to the civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.

FTP35121 – Allegation 1

5. On the basis of the evidence before it, there is evidence that on a date in February 2014 the Registrant did not inform Somerset County Council that he was subject to fitness to practise proceedings by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Further Mr McCaffrey, on behalf of the Registrant, accepts that the Registrant did not personally tell the Somerset County Council of the SSSC proceedings. However, he seeks to rely on the fact that the Somerset County Council had already been told by the employment agency prior to February 2014, that the Registrant was subject to such proceedings and therefore there would have been no requirement for the Registrant to say anything further.

6. The Panel considered the specific wording of the Allegation and it concluded that the Allegation is capable of proof. There is therefore a case to answer in respect of this Allegation.

FTP35121 – Allegation 2

7. The Panel had regard to the evidence of LG, a Team Leader at Non Stop Care Recruitment Agency. He confirmed that he had sent the Registrant’s details to Somerset County Council and that he was aware that the Registrant was subject to fitness to practise proceedings. He confirmed that he had told the Council about the Registrant’s fitness to practise proceedings. LG had recorded an entry on the Non Stop database on 16 January 2014 recording the fact that he had informed KS from the Council. The Panel have before it the relevant screen shot from the database. The entry records that LG spoke to KS at the Somerset County Council.

8. The Panel also heard from KS. Her evidence was vague and inconsistent with that of LG. She stated that she had not been told by the employment agency of the Registrant’s fitness to practise proceedings. However, she accepted she did not have a clear recall of all the conversations she would have had with the employment agency given the passage of time. She stated that if she had been given such information she would have passed that on to CH the Interim Operations Manager. She stated that such information would probably have been communicated orally or “scribbled” on a piece of paper. CH told the Panel that she did not have any set questions she would ask candidates at interview and there was no record of any interview notes.

9. The Panel preferred the evidence of LG.

10. The Panel considered that given that the Registrant had told the employment agency of his fitness to practise proceedings and that they in turn told Somerset County Council there was no evidence which could go to support a dishonesty allegation.

11. The Panel therefore concluded that there was no case to answer in respect of Allegation 2.

FTP50269 – Allegation 2

12. In considering this Allegation the Panel took into account that the Registrant accepted at the outset of this hearing that he did not disclose the fact that he was subject to a sanction on his practice by Scottish Social Care Council and that he did not disclose the fact that he was subject to HCPC proceedings. The Panel noted that the Registrant was originally a temporary locum worker and he then applied for a permanent post within the Isle of Wight Council. The Panel had regard to the application form that the Registrant presented to the Council which states as a reason for leaving Argyll and Bute was “ .…Manager instigating unfair investigation against me to SSSC”. There is no reference to the fact that a Determination and Sanction had already been made by the SSSC. Further at the time that the Registrant was offered the permanent post with the Isle of Wight Council on 14 March 2016 he would have been aware that he was under investigation with the HCPC.

13. The Panel therefore concluded that there was some evidence before it which if accepted could go to support Allegation 2.

14. It therefore follows that there is a case to answer in respect of this charge.

Background

15. This case concerns three separate matters against the Registrant.

FTP35121 – “The Somerset matters”

16. The Registrant was employed as a mainstream Social Worker in the Safeguarding Team. He was a locum worker who was employed by the Non-Stop Care Agency. The Registrant was employed in this capacity from February 2014 for a period of around three months.

17. The Interim Operations Manager at Somerset County Council came across the Scottish Social Services Care Council (“SSSC”) matters after she googled the Registrant following the end of his contract. The Registrant did not disclose that he was subject to fitness to practise proceedings in Scotland.

FTP32050 – “The Scottish Social Services Care Council charges”

18. The Registrant was employed as a Team Leader Social Worker at Argyll and Bute Council, where he was responsible for a team of social workers. The Registrant was referred to the SSSC in February 2013 for a number of failings, including inappropriate, bullying and intimidating behaviour towards colleagues and issues with his practice, such as risk assessments not being completed appropriately.

19. Those matters were investigated and progressed to a full hearing which the Registrant attended. That panel found a number of charges proved and imposed, a warning on the Registrant’s registration in Scotland, to remain on the Registrant’s record for 5 years, and conditions of practice were also imposed on his registration.  Those conditions included preventing the Registrant from taking a management role within Social Services and required the Registrant to provide a written reflective account.

FTP50269 – “The Isle of Wight matters”

20. The Registrant was initially employed by the Isle of Wight Council as an Agency Social Worker in the Referral and Assessment Team on 15th September 2015, through an agency, Seven Social Care.

21. A permanent position became available which the Registrant applied for and was successful. He was then employed in a permanent post as a Grade 10 Social Worker from 14th March 2016.

22. On 15th March 2016, the Registrant spoke to Ms J McC, his Line Manager and informed her that he had received correspondence from the HCPC which related to fitness practise concerns against him. The Registrant had not previously informed Ms Mc C about these matters. It is alleged that the Registrant was dishonest in not informing the Council of the fitness to practise concerns.

Decision on Facts

23. In coming to its decision on facts the Panel had regard to all the evidence both oral and documentary. It was reminded that it is for the HCPC to prove its case and that there was no burden on the Registrant to prove anything. The standard of proof applied when considering whether the allegations are made out is that of the balance of probabilities. i.e. whether it is more likely than not to have occurred.

24. The Panel took into account the submissions made on behalf of the HCPC and those of the Registrant. It had regard to the advice of the Legal Assessor.

25. The Panel heard oral evidence from a number of witnesses on behalf of the Council and 2 witnesses called on the Registrant’s behalf. The Panel also heard from the Registrant.

26. In relation to witnesses generally the Panel bore in mind that an honest witness can be mistaken and that a mistaken witness is not necessarily wrong about every fact.  The Panel does not seek to comment on each and every witness in this case but in general the witnesses sought to assist the Panel and readily conceded when they could not give evidence relevant to an issue in the case.  However, the Panel considered the evidence of S C-S to be less than satisfactory in certain respects. He was asserting that it was the role of the Councils to check any regulatory concerns of an individual rather than his as an employment agent. His evidence was at odds with that of LG who stated that it was an agents job to check if there were any regulatory concerns of a candidate. Further the Panel also preferred the evidence of Mr S who stated that he would expect the recruitment agent to undertake all necessary checks. Mr SC-S also gave conflicting evidence when he conceded to a question posed by the Panel that the role of the agency was to “do all the checks”.
27. The Panel also formed a view of the Registrant as a witness which appears below in relation to the specific allegation.

FTP35121

Allegation1

28. The Panel found this allegation proved by the Registrant’s own admission. The Panel also took into account the evidence of LG who confirmed that the agency knew of the fitness to practice issues and had informed Ms KS of Somerset County Council. The Panel also considered the evidence of Mr S who stated that the most important issue was that the local authority was made aware of fitness to practise issues rather than who made the Council aware. Ms CH stated that she would expect an individual to mention at interview if they had any fitness to practise concerns.
29. This allegation is therefore found proved.

FTP32050

Allegation 1 and 2

30. The Panel finds both these allegations proved by way of admission. It also took into account the witness statement of Ms LT who provided a copy of the SSSC Notice of Decision and accompanying documents.

31. Further it was admitted by the Registrant that the SSSC decision is a determination within the meaning of Article 22(1)(a)(v). The Panel accepts this admission and find that the SSSC determination is “a determination by a body in the United Kingdom responsible under any enactment for the regulation of a health or social care profession to the effect that his fitness to practise is impaired, or a determination by a licensing body elsewhere to the same effect”.

32. The Panel finds Allegation 1 and 2 proved.

FTP50269

Allegation 1a)

33. The Registrant accepted at the outset of this hearing that between 14 September 2015 and 14 June 2016, he personally did not disclose to the Isle of Wight Council that he was subject to a sanction imposed by the Scottish Social Care Council. The Panel also took into account the evidence of Mr SC-S from Seven Social Care who was responsible for placing the Registrant at the Isle of Wight Council in September 2015. Mr SC-S accepted that Seven Social Care were aware of the Registrant’s fitness to practise issues but that these issues were not passed on to the Council. The Panel also had regard to the evidence of Ms J McC that she had not been made aware either when the Registrant was a locum or when he applied for the permanent position that he had fitness to practise issues. Ms J McC only became aware of these matters on 15 June 2016 when she was advised by the Registrant.

34. The Panel therefore finds this Allegation proved.

Allegation 1b)

35. The Registrant also accepted at the outset of this hearing that he did not personally disclose to the Isle of Wight Council that he was subject to fitness to practise proceeding by the HCPC. The Panel took into account the evidence of Mr SC-S from Seven Social Care who was responsible for placing the Registrant at the Isle of Wight Council in September 2015. Mr SC-S accepted that Seven Social Care were aware of the Registrant’s fitness to practise issues but that these issues were not passed on to the Council. The Panel also had regard to the evidence of Ms J McC that she had not been made aware of the fitness to practise issues by the Registrant until the 15 June 2016. She told the Panel that she was subsequently sent by the Registrant a copy of the letter the Registrant received from the HCPC and all the documents relating to SSSC  decision and sanction.

36. The Panel therefore finds this Allegation proved.

Allegation 2

37. In considering this Allegation the Panel carefully considered the Registrant’s evidence to this Panel, along with the other oral and documentary evidence before it.

38. The Panel noted the Registrant to be emotional on occasions and struggled to fully and directly answer the questions posed to him. In evidence, he repeated on numerous occasions that he relied on the agent to tell the Councils of his fitness to practise issues, as the agents were his employers. The Panel considered this evidence was an attempt to minimise his own responsibility to inform Councils who would employ him. The Panel also found the Registrant to be unpersuasive in his answers to Panel questions regarding professional supervision as to why he was not forthcoming with his Line Manager Ms J McC with whom, he had a very good working relationship.

39.  However, the Panel also took into account that he had told Non-Stop agency of the SSSC matter and they in turn had told Somerset Council. The Panel also had regard to the email from Mr MP dated 12 March 2016, of Seven Social Care which demonstrated that the Agency was aware of his fitness to practise concerns. Further, the Panel considered an email communication to Mr AF of Seven Social care on 18 March 2015 from the Registrant which states “I am in urgent need to find a post. However, I feel I would need to tell any prospect employer of these investigations…”. On the 23 March 2015, the Registrant sent Mr MP a letter which he was suggesting, should be sent along with his CV to prospective employers. This letter which unfortunately minimises the decision of the SSSC, nevertheless identifies the fact that there was a SSSC fitness to practise hearing and that there was a separate HCPC investigation.

40. Based on the evidence before it, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had told the Agency that he was subject to fitness to practise issues and that he genuinely believed that they would have told the Isle of Wight Council.

41. The Panel therefore concluded that prior to the Registrant applying for and obtaining a permanent post with the Isle of Wight Council he was not acting dishonestly.

42. The Panel then went on to consider the position when the Registrant applied for the permanent post. It took into account the application form he completed dated 11 January 2016. That form does not specifically ask about disciplinary or regulatory history. There is however, a reference to the SSSC in the employment history section. Again regrettably, this reference is less than satisfactory or transparent about what happened at the SSSC but it does refer to an investigation. The Panel also noted there was no reference to the HCPC proceedings which were ongoing at that time. Ms J McC who interviewed the Registrant for the post accepted that she had not seen this reference to the SSSC. She explained to the panel that she had only been given the application form shortly before the interview and had not scrutinised it in detail.

43. Taking all the evidence into account the Panel concluded that it could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that the Registrant knew or that he ought to have known at time of application or at interview that he was acting dishonestly. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel also considered that the Registrant did inform Ms J McC on 15 June 2016 of the fitness to practise issues.

44. The Panel therefore concluded that Allegation 2 (which relates to Allegation 1a) and 1 b)), is not proved.

Decision on Grounds

45. On the basis of the facts admitted and found proved, the Panel went on to consider whether those facts amounted to misconduct. The Panel will consider the SSSC Determination in relation to current impairment.

46. The Panel took into account the submissions made by both parties. It also had regard to the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was aware that in considering this matter it was required to exercise its own judgement.

47. In considering misconduct and impairment, the Panel took into account the public interest which includes protection of service users, maintaining public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

48. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s failure to personally disclose to Somerset County Council was a serious falling short of the standards expected of a Social Worker. It concluded that, given its finding that the Non-Stop Agency had been aware of the SSSC issue and they had disclosed it to the Council, the Registrant had not acted inappropriately by failing to personally mention the SSSC issue at interview or directly with the Council. Whilst it might have been good practise to have mentioned it at interview, the falling short was not so serious to amount to misconduct. 

49. The Panel next went on to consider the Registrant’s non-disclosure to the Isle of Wight Council. The Panel considered that the Registrant had honestly believed that Seven Care Agency were aware of his SSSC and HCPC investigation.  The Panel considered that, based on the evidence before it, the Registrant believed that they would have informed the Council of his fitness to practise issues. To this extent, the Panel considered that the falling short of the Registrant, not to personally tell the Isle of White Council of his fitness to Practise issues, was not a serious falling short of the standards expected of a Registrant. However, the Panel considered that the position was different when he applied to become a permanent member of staff with the Council. At this point the Registrant was embarking on a new relationship with the Council and he had a responsibility on his application form to be candid about his fitness to practise issues concerning the SSSC and the HCPC. His application form makes no mention of the HCPC’s involvement and, whilst it refers to an SSSC investigation, it fails to mention the SSSC had, by this stage, determined the issue and imposed sanctions including a 5 year warning. These omissions by the Registrant were a serious falling short of the standards expected of a registered Social Worker.

50. The Panel considered the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and it considers that the Registrant breached:

Standard 3: You must keep high standards of personal conduct.

Standard 13: You must behave with….integrity and make sure your behaviour does not damage public confidence in you or your profession.

51. The Registrant’s conduct appeared to minimise the fact of the decision of the SSSC and it demonstrated a “head in the sand approach” to the HCPC investigation. The public would expect a registered Social Worker to be utterly transparent with any prospective employer, such as a local authority, regarding his fitness to practise issues so that the potential employer is then able to make a fully informed decision about his suitability for the post. By not being transparent with the Isle of Wight Council, the Registrant failed to uphold proper professional standards of conduct and behaviour and as such undermined public confidence in the Social Work profession. 

52. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s behaviour amounted to misconduct.

Decision on Impairment

53. The Panel has taken into account that the purpose of these proceedings is not to punish or re-punish the practitioner for past misdoings but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those who are not currently fit to practise. In approaching this task, the Panel applied its own professional judgment. The Panel had regard to the practice notes issued by the HCPTS (Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired and Fitness to Practise: What does it mean). The Panel took account of the case of the CHRE -v- Grant [2011] which reminds panels of the need to consider the public interest.

54. The Panel also considered the case of Cohen -v- GMC [2008]. In particular, it had regard to whether the conduct identified is capable of being remedied, whether it has been remedied, and whether it is unlikely to be repeated.

55. The Panel first considered the Personal component when considering whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired.  It considered that the Registrant had demonstrated before this Panel that he had some insight into his failings that were identified by the SSSC hearing. He accepted that he was not suitable to be a manager at the time and he has not sought to apply or want another management post. It was also clear from his oral evidence and from the documentation before the Panel that he has informed his current agency, who employs him, of his fitness to practise issues. This demonstrates that he now understands that he has personal responsibility to ensure that all those who employ him as a Social Worker are fully aware of his fitness to practise issues.  The Panel also took account of how the Registrant presented at the hearing before it. He clearly expressed remorse and demonstrated his commitment to the practise of Social Work. To this extent, the Panel considered that the risk of repetition of the misconduct identified in the Isle of Wight was low.

56. Nevertheless, the Panel went on to consider the Public component in this case. It took into account the public interest, which includes protection of service users, maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

57. The Panel noted that positive testimonials confirming that the Registrant is a good and competent Social Worker and, therefore, no service user protection issues arise in this case. However, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s lack of transparency with the Isle of Wight Council from the time of his application for the permanent post undermines proper professional standards of conduct and behaviour and a finding on impairment is required to uphold those standards and maintain public confidence in the profession.

58. The Panel also concluded that the SSSC determination required a finding of current impairment. The Registrant had a 5 year warning and conditions imposed on his Registration. One of those conditions was to provide a reflective piece. The Registrant appears not to have sought to engage with those conditions. The Panel considered that the public would be alarmed to learn that a registered Social Worker who has a 5 year warning imposed of his Registration in Scotland along with conditions, would be permitted to be on the HCPC register without restriction. The Panel heard limited evidence from the Registrant as to the extent of his reflection on the SSSC issues. The Panel therefore concluded that a finding of current impairment was required to maintain public confidence in the Social Work profession.

59. In conclusion, the Panel have found that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction

60. The Panel next considered what, if any, sanction to impose. The Panel had regard to the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy and the advice of the Legal Assessor.

61. The Panel took account of the submissions made by both parties. It also took into account the aggravating and mitigating factors identified in this case. The Panel accepted that the Registrant has shown genuine remorse and has shown insight into what happened when he was a Social Work Manager in Scotland which made him the subject to the SSSC matters.

62. The Panel is aware that its role at this stage is not to be punitive although any sanction may have a punitive affect. It is part of the public interest not to deprive the public of an otherwise competent practitioner.

63. The Registrant has shown insight into the issues that brought him before the SSSC. He realises that he was not a good manager.  In the four and a half years since the SSSC Determination there has been no repeat of the failings identified. It is apparent from the testimonials proved by the Registrant that he is a competent and able Social Worker. Ms J McC confirmed that other than minor issues raised during his probation period at the Isle of Wight Council he was a good Social Worker. The Panel also took into account a document dated 31 May 2017 which identifies one of his assessments as an example of best practice.

64. The Panel considered that given the nature of the SSSC matter and given the Panel’s view of the Isle of Wight matter as misconduct it considered that taking no action would not be appropriate.

65. The Panel next considered a Caution Order. The Panel took into account that there was no repetition of the issues that arose with the SSSC and the Registrant’s insight into those matters. It also took into account that the Registrant has since the Isle of Wight matter taken personal responsibility for ensuring that those with whom he works, are fully aware of his fitness to practise issues.  The Registrants remorse was also demonstrated in his resignation letter to Ms J McC. He was aware that he had let her down and he was concerned that by not telling her about his fitness to practise issues until the 15 June 2016 he had lost her trust. This demonstrates the registrant’s insight into the need for an open and transparent relationship with his employers.

66. The Panel considered that a Caution Order for a period of 2 years is the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case. Such an Order will remind the Registrant of his obligation to the profession and to others to be transparent. The Registrant has to declare the caution to all those who employ him or with whom he is placed as a Social Worker. Such an Order will also send a clear message to other Social Workers of the need to uphold proper professional standards of conduct and behaviour. The Panel also considered that such an Order will maintain the public’s trust in the social work profession and the HCPC as the Regulator.

67. The Panel then considered and excluded the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order. This case did not concern any deficiencies in terms of skills or knowledge. Further, the Panel was unable to identify or formulate conditions of practice appropriate to the circumstances of this case. It also considered that a Suspension Order would be disproportionate in all the circumstances.

68. In conclusion a Caution Order for a period of 2 years is the necessary and proportionate sanction.

Order

That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register of Mr Daniel Beaudoin with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 2 years from the date this Order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 25 October 2017.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Daniel Beaudoin

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
19/09/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Caution