Mrs Jayne Burgin

: Social worker

: SW42071

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 20/10/2017 End: 17:00 20/10/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at the substantive hearing on 17 - 21 October 2016:


During the course of your employment as a social worker at Sheffield City Council you:

1. In relation to Service User A, you did not:

a. commence and/or complete the parenting assessment between 16 August 2011 – 12 October 2011.

b. request the initial adoption paperwork from adoption business support in a timely manner.

c. attend the court hearing that was held on 04 October 2011 and/or on 06 October 2011 and/or did not inform management and/or business support of these planned court dates when you called in sick on 3 October 2011.

d. attend the court hearing that was held on 23 August 2011.

e.  request the court timetable from the solicitors in a timely manner,   despite being requested to do so by your manager on 16 August 2011.

2. In relation to Service User B you:

a. Did not attend Court on 09 September 2011 until prompted to do so by your manager.

b.  Did not inform business support when you called in sick on 03 October 2011 that there were Court hearings on 05 October 2011 and 06 October 2011.

c. did not provide clear information to your manager(s) regarding the outcome of parenting assessments and/or further support which was required by the parents of Service User B.

d. your actions in 1(c) 2(c)above led to you agreeing to a further assessment of Service User B’s parents at court without management approval of the same.

e.  subsequent to the agreement referred to in allegation 1(d) 2(d) above you inferred to your manager that other parties had requested the additional parental assessment when this was not the case.

f.  Did not complete the parenting assessment and/or did not progress parallel planning in a timely manner.

g.  did not complete a viability assessment on the grandmother of Service User B.

3. In relation to Family C children, you did not

a. adhere to the Court timetable in that you did not:

i. submit your final evidence to the legal department in a timely manner or at all in time for the court deadline on 26 September 2011.

ii. complete the placement order report which was due on 11 January 2012 in a timely manner and/or did not inform your manager(s) that this needed to be done when you were on a period of sick leave.

b. adhere to the adoption process in that you did not:

i. request an adoption pack in a timely manner as agreed in your   supervision session of 19 July 2011.

ii. complete the initial paperwork for the adoption panel in a timely manner.

iii. complete the Review Health Assessment Consent Form on time.

iv. arrange ‘goodbye contact’ in a timely manner.

v. prepare a child permanence report for the adoption panel on 11 January 2012 and/or did not inform your manager(s) that this needed to be done when you were on a period of sick leave.

c. maintain professional communication in that you did not:

i. return the calls of the Children’s Guardian for over two weeks;

ii. contact the legal department to discuss the court hearing in a timely manner.

4. In relation to Service User D, you did not:

a. complete the Lead Professional update within the 5 working days’ time limit.

b. verify the addresses for individuals attending the Child Protection Conference to enable the invitations to be sent to attendees in a timely manner.
5. In relation to the Service User E you did not:

a. [Not Proved]

b. complete the statement and chronology in order to initiate care proceedings by the deadline of 06 December 2011;

c. maintain professional communication in that you did not:

i. reply to approximately 8 phone calls to you from the Health Visitor.

ii. [Not Proved].

 d.  [Not Proved].

6. In relation to Service User F:

a. Did not adhere to the Court timetable in that you did not:

i. complete the final evidence which was due to be filed on 19   December 2011.

ii. inform your manager when you went on sick leave on 12 December 2011 that the final evidence was due to be filed on 19 December 2011 but was not completed.

b. Did not undertake visits to the child every two weeks when the child was subject to a child protection plan between 09 May 2011 and 20 September 2011.

c. Did not visit the child at all after 20 September 2011.

d. You did not adhere to the Child Protection Monitoring Practice Standards for the Child Protection conference held on 20 September 2011, in that you did not:

i. make the report available to the chair a minimum of two days before   the conference.

ii. share the written report with the parents a minimum of two days before the conference.

iii. include the parent’s views in your report.

iv. provide an up to date plan for that conference.

v. arrange core group meetings at the required intervals.

e. Inappropriately put a conference in the duty diary without the permission of your manager.
f. you did not maintain professional communication in that you did not:

i. maintain any or any reasonable contact with the mother of Service User F.

7. In relation to Family G children, you did not:

a. adhere to the Child Protection Monitoring Practice Standards in relation to the Child Protection conference held on 03 November 2011 in that you did not:

i. provide the report to the chair a minimum of two days before the   conference.


ii. get the report authorised by your team manager.

iii. share the written report with the parents a minimum of two days  before the conference.

iv. provide a report which was of an adequate standard.

v. keep the Child Protection plan up to date.

vi. arrange Core Group meetings at the required intervals.

b. progress the case to the PLO stage in a timely manner.

c. maintain professional communication in that you did not:

i. reply to approximately 9 phone calls and 6 emails sent to you by Colleague A and/or Colleague B and/or Colleague C of the Family Group Conference team between 30 August 2011 - 17 November 2011.

ii. [Not Proved].

d. undertake the required number of child protection visits.

e. Respond to emails dated 3 and 21 November 2011 in relation to arrangements for a pre-birth conference in a timely manner.

8. Your actions described in paragraphs 1 -7 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

1. The Panel was made aware that the notice of today’s hearing was sent to the Registrant’s address, as it appears on the HCPC Register, on 19 September 2017 by first class post. The Panel was satisfied that good service had been effected in accordance with Rules 3 and 6 of the HCPC (Conduct and Competence Committee) (Procedure) Rules 2003 (“the Rules”).


Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant


2. Ms  Hamilton, on behalf of the HCPC, applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that there has been no application for an adjournment by the Registrant who has not engaged with the HCPC at all.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that the decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant is a decision which must be exercised with the utmost care and caution. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” as well as the cases of R v Jones [2002] UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

4. The Panel was of the view that, pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules, all reasonable steps have been taken to serve the notice of hearing. The Panel heard that here has been no engagement from the Registrant since the substantive hearing and no application for an adjournment. While there will be a disadvantage to her if the hearing proceeds today because she will not be here to present her case, the Panel took into account the absence of any engagement with the HCPC process since the substantive hearing, which she also did not attend, although she submitted some documentation to that Panel. In all these circumstances, the Panel concluded that it was in the public interest to proceed with the expeditious hearing of this case before the Suspension Order expires next month. 

Background

5. The Registrant commenced work at Sheffield City Council (“the Council”) on 4 April 2000. At the material time, the Registrant was an experienced Social Worker in a Child in Need team. Her responsibilities related to the safeguarding of children and included progressing matters for hearings within family court proceedings.

6. The Council was notified of concerns relating to the Registrant’s delay in progressing child protection cases by judges in two separate cases in family court proceedings. A separate and unrelated internal audit of the caseloads of all senior social workers at the Council identified further concerns associated with the Registrant’s work.

7. The Registrant was suspended from work by her employer on 1 May 2012. At this time, the Registrant self-referred the matter to the HCPC.

8. The Registrant resigned from her post in February 2013 prior to the completion of the internal investigation by the Council.

Decision


9. Ms Hamilton, on behalf of the HCPC informed the Panel that there has been no engagement with the HCPC process since the substantive hearing, where the Registrant did not attend, and she has not provided the Panel with any evidence as to any insight or remediation. Further, there is no evidence as to her current employment circumstances. She stated that the Registrant has not practised as a Social Worker since 2013. Ms Hamilton submitted therefore that the Registrant remains impaired and that at least a continuation of the current Suspension Order is necessary and proportionate.

10. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to CHRE v NMC and Grant (2011) EWHC 927 (Admin). The Panel also took into account the HCPTS Practice Note entitled “Finding that Fitness to Practise is “Impaired””. It bore in mind that it is carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the Registrant’s fitness to practise in light of the current circumstances and that impairment is a matter for its own independent judgment, there being no burden of proof on either side in respect of the question of impairment.

11. In the absence of any information from the Registrant, there is no evidence which demonstrates that the Registrant has remediated her misconduct and gained a sufficient level of insight into her failings. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant remains liable to put vulnerable service users at unwarranted risk of harm in the future. In the circumstances of the absence of engagement from the Registrant, and the continuing significant risk of repetition of her failings, the Panel also concluded that the need to uphold proper professional standards and maintain confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.

12. The Panel therefore found that the Registrant remains impaired on the grounds of public protection and the public interest.

13. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired by reason of her misconduct, the Panel went on to consider sanction. The Panel took into account the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy and considered its powers under Article 30(1). It is aware that the purpose of sanction is to uphold public protection and/ or the public interest.

14. The Panel first considered taking no further action and allowing the Order to lapse upon expiry. The Panel determined that this was not appropriate as this would not protect the public or sufficiently address the public interest concern in this case.

15. The Panel next considered a Caution Order and determined that this would not be appropriate for the reasons set out in the preceding paragraph.

16. The Panel then considered whether a Conditions of Practice Order was appropriate and proportionate and concluded that it was not. There is no information from the Registrant as to her current circumstances or what she has done since the substantive hearing and her plans for the future. There is therefore no indication that she would be willing or able to comply with conditions. The Panel therefore concluded that conditions would not be practicable.

17. The Panel next considered whether to continue the Suspension Order and decided that this would be necessary and proportionate in the circumstances in light of the continued lack of engagement.

18. In considering proportionality, the Panel took into account that the previous substantive Panel saw medical evidence that the Registrant was too unwell to attend that hearing. The Registrant’s current health position is unknown. However, the Panel was of the view that a 12 month Suspension order would be proportionate in that, as well as protecting the public and addressing the public interest concerns in this case, it would allow the Registrant to consider whether she wishes or is able to practise as a Social Worker in the future, particularly if her health improved. This Order would afford her the time and opportunity to engage with her regulator and address the concerns identified. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel also bore in mind that the previous substantive Panel heard evidence from witnesses who spoke of positive aspects of the Registrant’s work as a Social Worker.

19. The Panel did consider the impact a Suspension Order is likely to have on the Registrant, but concluded that the need to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession outweighs the Registrant’s interests in this regard.


20. The Panel did consider a Striking Off Order but concluded that this would be disproportionate and would deprive the Registrant of the opportunity to return to safe and effective practice in due course.

21. If the Registrant wishes to return to practise as a Social Worker, the Panel was of the view that the next reviewing Panel may be assisted by the following:

• An update on her health.


• Reflections on the failings in her previous practice and their impact on others at the time.


• Information on the steps taken, or that she planned to take, to be able to return to practice.


• Her attendance in person at the next review hearing.

Order

Order: The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Mrs Jayne Burgin for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order. 

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 18 November 2017. This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 18 November 2018.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mrs Jayne Burgin

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
17/10/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended