Mrs Jeanette Reeve

: Social worker

: SW59166

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 16/10/2017 End: 17:00 16/10/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Nottinghamshire County

Council between June 2003 and November 2011, you:

1. Did not recognise risk, which placed service users at risk of harm;


2. Did not carry out timely Section 47 (child protection) enquiries;

3. Did not keep child protection records up to date;

4. Did not attend scheduled child protection meetings;

5. Did not follow up concerns raised by a school about service users' welfare;

6. Did not provide minutes of child protection meetings to families;

7. The matters described in paragraphs 1 - 7 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence;

8. By reason of that misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary matters
Proceeding in private
1. The Panel decided that the hearing should be held in private under Rule 10(1)(a) of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”), insofar as matters were raised which concerned the health and other aspects of the private life of the Registrant.

Service
2. The Panel saw evidence that the Notice of Hearing dated 14 September 2017 was sent by first class post on the same date to the Registrant’s address on the Register. The Panel was satisfied that this constituted good service pursuant to Rules 3 and 6 of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).

Proceeding in absence
3. Ms Brzezina on behalf of the HCPC applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. During its deliberations on this issue, the Panel received an email from the Registrant sent to the HCPC on today’s date at 12.22am. This email apologises for not attending today’s hearing, stating that the Registrant is unwell. She does not request an adjournment. The Panel took into account this email when coming to its decision as to whether or not to proceed today. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to the cases of R v Jones [2002] UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162 and took into account the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant”.

4. The Panel noted that no application for an adjournment was made by the Registrant in respect of today’s hearing. She has made such an application in the past, which was agreed to, and is therefore aware of the possibility of making such an application and how it may be done. The Panel was of the view that if the Registrant had wanted to apply to adjourn today’s proceedings she would have done so. The Panel therefore concluded that she has voluntarily waived her right to attend. The Panel has the advantage of representations made by the Registrant in the same email. The Panel decided that in the circumstances it is in the public interest that this mandatory review of the current order is undertaken expeditiously before its expiry next month. 

Background
5. The Registrant started work as a Social Worker with Nottinghamshire County Council in 2003. There were concerns about her practice and, consequently, an audit of her cases was undertaken in October 2009 and a number of issues of concern were identified. The Registrant had a period of absence from work due to sickness between December 2009 to June 2010. A further audit of her work was carried out in October 2010, which raised various concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the Registrant’s practice, and she was dismissed from her employment on 30 May 2012 following an internal disciplinary procedure.

6. On 17 October 2013, a Panel of the HCPC’s Conduct and Competence found the Registrant’s fitness to practice to be impaired on grounds of misconduct arising from a number of failings arising out of her employment by the Council as found proved.


7. The Registrant did not attend that hearing, nor was she represented. In  its decision the Final Hearing Panel acknowledged that the Registrant had serious personal difficulties at the time of the events in question, but appeared to be unable to prioritise the most serious cases and address situations where service users were clearly at risk. It stated that an autonomous professional should have made her mentor or line manager aware of her difficulties and high caseload. That Panel concluded that the Registrant had failed to comply with basic principles of practice and that her actions had potentially put very vulnerable service users at risk. 


8. The original Panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired, but considered that her practice failings were remediable. That Panel stated that there was no evidence of remediation before it and that there was no information before it about the Registrant’s then-circumstances. The Panel imposed a period of suspension of 12 months and stated that a future reviewing Panel would be assisted if the Registrant were to produce evidence of reflective practice, particularly in relation to recognising and assessing risk and the need for appropriate action. 


9. The Suspension Order was reviewed on 27 October 2014 at a hearing attended by the Registrant. The Registrant gave oral evidence. There was also placed before that Panel an undated letter from the Registrant’s GP stating that she had been diagnosed with a health issue “last year”, so apparently in 2013.

10. In its decision that reviewing Panel stated that the Registrant had shown limited insight, that it had seen no compelling evidence of remediation and that the evidence given by her did not go to the heart of the problems that had been identified. A further period of suspension of 12 months was imposed and in the decision it was also stated that a future Panel would be assisted by written evidence that the Registrant had fully reflected on her failings, fully recognised them, appreciated a need for appropriate action to be taken and had kept her professional skills and knowledge up-to-date.
 
11. The further Suspension Order was reviewed on 15 October 2015 at a hearing attended by the Registrant. In her oral evidence given to that reviewing Panel, she acknowledged that towards the end of her employment by the Council her work had not been up to the required standard, that she fully recognised her mistakes and had put children at risk and that she should have asked for support from work colleagues. She made reference to her own ill health and added that the medication for it had been working well. The Registrant produced a written piece on reflective practice, but that Panel found that it did “not go to the heart of things”, being too generalised and failing to address the particular concerns identified by the previous panels. 


12. That second reviewing Panel decided that although some progress had been made, it was not sufficient, particularly in relation to safeguarding. A further period of suspension of 12 months was imposed and in its decision that Panel stated that a future Panel might be assisted by written evidence that the Registrant had fully reflected on the specific failings identified by the original Panel and would be able to apply the lessons she had learned as a result.

13. The third reviewing Panel, having heard the Registrant’s oral evidence, came to the conclusion that she:

demonstrated much improved insight into the failings that had led to the original finding of impaired fitness to practise. She unreservedly accepted her failings and if she were to find that events in her private life (whether caused by her health or otherwise) might adversely affect her safe and effective practise, her evidence was that she would inform colleagues before that happened, and consult her GP for advice.

12.In those circumstances, the Panel has concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is still impaired, but she should be permitted to return to practice subject to a Conditions of Practice order of 12 months in the terms set out below. Those conditions are necessary to secure the appropriate degree of public protection. A period of 12 months is necessary to allow a return to work and for the Registrant to demonstrate compliance with the conditions.”

Decision
14. Ms Brzezina submitted that there is no new information before the Panel which could suggest that the concerns of previous Panels have been addressed, and that the risk of repetition of previous misconduct remained. Ms Brzezina submitted that therefore the Registrant remains impaired. Ms Brzezina submitted that whether the current Conditions of Practice Order should continue is a matter for the Panel, but asked the Panel to consider whether, if it were to consider that Conditions remained appropriate and proportionate, there should be an added requirement on the Registrant to update the HCPC as to her position.

15. The Panel took into account the Registrant’s email dated 16 October 2017 in which the Registrant states that due to health issues and personal difficulties she has only finally become well enough to look for work as a Social Worker, and that she would like to practice. She states that “I love social work and feel very privileged to be able to work in the profession.” She also states that “I fully understand that I would still have conditions attached, if that is your decision.”

16. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took note of the HCPC’s Practice Note entitled “Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired””. It is carrying out a comprehensive reconsideration of the Conditions of Practice Order in light of the current circumstances.

17. The Panel was aware that the issue of impairment is a matter for its own professional judgment.

18. The Panel was of the view that the misconduct found proved at the substantive hearing was serious and put vulnerable service users at an unwarranted risk of harm. The Panel came to the conclusion that there is no new information before the Panel which addresses the real risk of repetition in this case. While the previous Panel found that the Registrant showed a developed insight as a result of her oral evidence before that previous Panel, there is no evidence before this Panel of any remedial steps taken by the Registrant in terms of developing her skills and knowledge, which would go to mitigating the continuing risk of repetition. The Registrant herself, in her most recent email, seems to recognise that it would be appropriate for her right to practice to be restricted, in this case by conditions. In all the circumstances, the Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained liable to put vulnerable service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the future. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remained impaired on public protection grounds.

19. The Panel also considered the wider public interest in the case. This Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker for a number of years, and has not yet worked pursuant to the Conditions of Practice Order imposed a year ago. In those circumstances, coupled with the serious nature of the misconduct which has not yet been adequately addressed, the Panel was of the view that the need to uphold proper professional standards and confidence in the profession and the regulator would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

20. The Panel next considered the issue of sanction, and had in mind the HCPC’s Indicative Sanctions Policy. The Panel was aware that sanction is a matter for its own professional judgment.

21. The Panel first considered a Caution Order and decided that this would not be appropriate because it would not place any actual restriction on the Registrant’s practice which would address the public protection concerns. Further, the Panel was of the view that the misconduct found proved was too serious and that the public interest would not be served by such a sanction.

22. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order, and, taking into account the Registrant’s developing insight as well her clear expression of desire to work as a Social Worker in her latest email, the Panel was of the view that Conditions were appropriate and proportionate. The Panel decided that subject to the addition of two further conditions, the current Conditions of Practice Order afforded sufficient public protection, sufficiently satisfied the public interest, and also allowed the Registrant to practise and demonstrate remediation of her misconduct. The two added conditions would allow the Registrant to demonstrate efforts made by her to maintain her professional skills and knowledge and to show a commitment to returning to Social Work. The Panel therefore determined to impose a varied Conditions of Practice for a further period of 12 months, to take effect from the date of expiry of the current Conditions of Practice Order. The terms of this varied Conditions of Practice Order are set out below. A period of 12 months was considered proportionate in that it would allow the Registrant the time to find work and also to demonstrate compliance with the conditions.

23. The Panel did go on to carefully consider a Suspension Order but was of the view that this would be disproportionate at this stage because of the factors referred to in the paragraph above.

24. The Panel was also of the view that, in addition to these Conditions, the next reviewing Panel would be assisted by:
i. documentary evidence from the Registrant of any efforts to secure any employment outside the Social Work field, whether paid or unpaid;
ii. any references or testimonials from any employment, whether paid or unpaid.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to annotate the HCPC Register to show that, for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order takes effect, being 14 November 2017 (“the Operative Date”), you, Mrs Jeanette Reeve, must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any employment or engagement or cease to be employed or engaged by any employer, person or other organisation with whom you propose to do social work. 


2. Within 7 days of taking up work 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. You must attend upon that supervisor as required by condition numbered 3 below and follow their advice and recommendations. 


3. You must meet with your supervisor on a fortnightly basis for the first 3 months that you attend work as a Social Worker, to consider and document your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan, and thereafter at intervals agreed with your supervisor. 


4. You must work with your workplace supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to ensure you are a safe and effective practitioner in the following areas of your practice: record keeping, risk assessment and safeguarding. 


5.  Within 3 months of starting work as a Social Worker, you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.

6.  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, and a first report from the supervisor to be received by the HCPC 21 days before the date of the next review at the latest.

7. You must inform the HCPC at least 21 days before the next review hearing of all CPD activities undertaken by you.

8. You must inform the HCPC every 3 months from the commencement of this order of all efforts made by you to secure employment in the field of Social Work.

9. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you as a Social Worker. 


10. 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 (at the time of application); and 

C. any prospective employer (at the time of your application). 


11. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 14 November 2017.

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

 

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mrs Jeanette Reeve

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
14/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
15/10/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
27/10/2014 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
15/10/2013 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended