Mr Martin Joseph Sands

: Social worker

: SW35315

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 23/10/2017 End: 12:30 23/10/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Voluntary Removal agreed

Allegation

Allegation (as found proved at Final Hearing)

While employed as a Social Worker with Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, you:
1. Did not visit the following Children In Need between the following dates:
a) Service User B between 17 July 2012 and around 15 May 2013;
b) Service User A between 5 October 2012 and around 15 May 2013;
c) Service User C between 7 September 2012 and or around 15 May 2013;
d) Service User D between 8 September 2012 and around 15 May 2013.

2. Did not carry out risk assessments in relation to Service User B between 25 June2012 and around 15 May 2013

3. Between February 2012 and May 2013 did not respond to child protection and/or child welfare concerns in that, you did not carry out home visits in respect of:
a) Family B on 3 occasions;
c) Family A on 2 occasions; and
d) Family D on 3 occasions;

6. Did not make a referral for Service User D, who told you she was self-harming.

7. Deliberately recorded false information on the HCPC's electronic system in that you:

a. input a CIN plan onto the system when in fact a CIN meeting had not taken
place:
i. on or around 13 May 2013 in respect to Family C;
ii. on or around 14 May 2013 in respect to Family A.
The matters described above were found to amount to misconduct and that by reason of that misconduct the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proceeding in absence

1. The Panel was satisfied that good service had been effected. The Registrant did not attend nor was he represented. He had not attended the original final hearing in April 2015 or the subsequent reviews in April 2016 or April 2017.

2. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Younis applied for the hearing to be conducted in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that the Registrant had been notified of the date, time and location of the hearing at his registered address and that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.

3. Having considered the revised HCPTS Practice Note on proceeding in absence and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba [2016] EWCA Civ 162 (“the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations against medical practitioners is of real importance”), the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had received reasonable notice of today’s hearing.  The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment and had voluntarily absented himself.  There was no indication that he would attend at a later date if today’s hearing were to be adjourned. In balancing the Registrant’s interest and the public interest, the Panel decided that the matter should be heard in the absence of the Registrant.
Background

4. The Registrant started employment with Sefton Borough Council in 2002 as a Family Support Worker.  In 2011 he qualified as a Social Worker and worked within Children’s Social Care at the Council.  He was given a written warning on March 2013 in relation to failures to make statutory visits within required timescales and falsifying records in relation to those visits.  Further similar matters came to light in May 2013, as a result of which he was dismissed in November 2013.  The May 2013 matters were referred to the HCPC. 

The Final Hearing

5. It was alleged that the Registrant had not visited four Children in Need for 7-10 months, that he had not carried out risk assessments in relation to a service user between June 2012 and May 2013, that he had not responded to child welfare concerns by carrying out home visits for three families between February 2012 and May 2013, that he had not made a referral for a self-harming service user, and that he had deliberately recorded false information on the Council’s electronic database.  The facts were found to be proved.  The full details of the findings are set out in detail in the written decision of the Panel at the final hearing.  

6. It was found that the facts amounted to misconduct and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was thereby impaired. The Panel at the final hearing also noted that he had not worked as a Social Worker since 2013.  He had sent an email dated 27 April 2015 in which he stated that he wished his name to be removed from the HCPC Register. There was evidence of remorse but the Panel found there remained a risk of repetition.

7. In determining the appropriate sanction, it was decided that a period of suspension of 12 months would provide the Registrant with the opportunity to reflect and to address health concerns that he made in representations in April 2014.   

8. The matter was reviewed on 22 April 2016.  The Registrant did not attend and sent an email to the HCPC in which he maintained his position that he would not pursue a career in social work.  The reviewing Panel found that his fitness to practise remained impaired in the absence of any indication of more developed insight or other evidence that he was fit to return to practise.   The Suspension Order was extended by a further 12 months.

9. The case was reviewed for a second time on 28 April 2017.  There was no change of circumstances, therefore the second reviewing Panel found that fitness to practise remained impaired.  The Registrant had sent a further email to the HCPC on 26 April 2017 in which he confirmed his intention not to return to the profession and indicated that he would welcome the matter being brought to a close.   The second reviewing Panel took the view that this was an appropriate case for voluntary removal and requested that the HCPC should consider whether that was an appropriate disposal.  In the circumstances, a Striking Off order was disproportionate because his misconduct was not such as to be fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the register.  In the interim, the second reviewing Panel decided that a short extension of the Suspension Order was the appropriate means of ensuring public protection pending resolution of the case.
This Hearing – Voluntary Removal Agreement

10. This is the third review of the order. The HCPC has heeded the request of the previous reviewing Panel and has decided that a Voluntary Removal Agreement (VRA) is the appropriate final disposal of this matter.

11. The Registrant’s intention to proceed by way of voluntary removal from the register was confirmed by his signing the VRA on 18 October 2017 in which he confirmed his understanding that the HCPC will not consider any future application for restoration to the register for a period of at least 5 years as a consequence of the agreement.  The HCPC has agreed that this is an appropriate case for such a disposal, subject to the final approval of the Panel.  

12. For the HCPC, Ms Younis drew the Panel’s attention to the Practice Note on Disposal of Cases by Consent and submitted that a VRA would adequately protect the public for the obvious reason that the Registrant would no longer continue in practice for a period of at least 5 years.
Decision

13. The Panel considered the public protection test as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on the Disposal of Cases by Consent and the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel concluded that this was an appropriate case for voluntary removal from the register. The Registrant has shown remorse for his misconduct. He has not practised as a Social Worker since 2013 and has consistently indicated his firm intention not to return to the profession. The Panel’s view was that the public would be more than adequately protected by the Registrant’s agreement to be removed from the register and not to practise as a Social Worker, because he would no longer work in the profession.
 
14. The Panel was also satisfied that a voluntary removal from the register was in the wider public interest and proceeding in this way would not undermine public confidence in the profession or the regulator.

15. The Registrant had already signed the Voluntary Removal Agreement in which he undertook not to practise as a Social Worker or use any protected title with that profession. He also understood by signing the agreement that any application for restoration to register would be treated as if he had been struck off the register as a result of the allegation.  On that basis, the Panel revoked the current Suspension Order and approved the Voluntary Removal Agreement. 

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to remove the name of Mr Martin Joseph Sands from the Register with immediate effect.

Notes

No notes available

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Martin Joseph Sands

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
23/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Voluntary Removal agreed
28/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
22/04/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
27/04/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended