Miss Robinha Kamya Guweddeko

: Social worker

: SW07664

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 04/01/2018 End: 12:30 04/01/2018

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Suspended

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker with Somerset County Council, you;

 

1) On 23 October 2014, at West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court were convicted of:

a) dishonestly failed to promptly notify the Department for Work and Pensions in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstances which you knew would affect your entitlement to income support benefit;

 

b) dishonestly failed to promptly notify a local authority, namely Southampton City Council in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstance which you knew would affect your entitlement to Council Tax benefit;

 

2) In or around November 2014, did not declare the convictions outlined at paragraphs 1a and 1b, when you renewed your registration with the HCPC;

 

3) Not proved.

 

4) Not proved.

 

5) By reason of your convictions…your fitness to practise is impaired

Finding

Preliminary matter:

1.       At the outset of the interim order application, Mr Doyle for the HCPC and the Regisrant applied for parts of the hearing to be conducted in private.   The grounds advanced were that it was to protect the Registrant’s private life as there would be reference to her health.

2.       The Panel was referred to and followed the guidance set out in the HCPTS Practice Note on “Conducting Hearings in Private”.   It also received and accepted legal advice.          

3.       The Panel decided that in the circumstances, it was appropriate for those parts of this review hearing concerning the Registrant’s health to be heard in private to safeguard her privacy.   It also noted that a public summary of the hearing would be produced.       

Background:

4.       On 23 October 2014, the Registrant was convicted of two counts of dishonesty, failing to notify the relevant authorities of a change in circumstances which affected her entitlement to income support benefit and council tax benefit.   The total amount of benefit claim for which she was prosecuted amounted to £7,000.   At a further hearing, the Registrant was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and fined £145.

5.       The Registrant referred herself to the HCPC on 19 November 2014.  On 6 June 2016 at the Final Hearing, the Registrant’s fitness to practise was found to be impaired on grounds of her criminal convictions.  The Final Hearing panel imposed a 12-month Suspension Order and suggested that the reviewing panel may be assisted by the following:

·        Evidence that you are repaying the £7,000.

·        A reflective piece on the seriousness of your actions.

·        References from persons of good standing in relation to voluntary or paid work.

6.       Although the Registrant did not attend the first review hearing on 8 June 2017, she did provide that panel with written submissions, which included a reflective piece, in which she addressed the matters set out in paragraph 5 above, as follows:

a)       Evidence of repayment of £7,000:  the Registrant did not produce any independent evidence to show that she had been making repayment.   She stated that she had a debt repayment plan in place but was struggling to make the “minimal payments” due to financial hardship and indicated that it was going to take her a long time to repay the amount in full.

b)      The Registrant stated that due to her convictions, she had found it very difficult to find any employment relevant to her profession, including voluntary work.   However, she had been working in a voluntary capacity for a Christian charity for two years and was involved in a variety of community services through that church.  

c)       The Registrant stated that she had had periods of ill health.         

7.       That panel decided that the Registrant’s reflective piece with regards to her convictions for dishonesty was limited and superficial, and that the Registrant had focussed on the impact of those convictions on her from a personal perspective.   She had failed to properly reflect on the impact of her dishonest behaviour on the Social Work profession and the public’s trust and confidence in that profession.   That panel found that the Registrant had given no explanation as to how she would behave differently in the future and provided no assurance that such serious behaviour would not be repeated.   This led that panel to conclude that since the Registrant had not demonstrated “meaningful” and “well developed” insight or that she had taken steps towards remedying her dishonest behaviour, the risk of repetition remained.   The panel also noted that there was no evidence that the Registrant had maintained her skills and knowledge during the time since she had last worked as a social working which was in 2014.   

8.       The panel also determined that public confidence in the Social Work profession would be undermined if there was no finding that impairment remained in circumstances where there was no evidence that a registrant had taken any steps to keep his or her skills and knowledge up to date or provide sufficient evidence that lessons had been learned and appropriate steps taken to remedy previous conduct and behaviour.  

9.       The panel decided that the appropriate and proportionate order was a further Suspension Order for 6 months and set out various matters which it considered may assist a future reviewing panel, as follows:

·        Attendance by the Registrant.

·        Letter from Southampton City Council and/or the Department of Works and Pensions confirming amount the Registrant has repaid.

·        A further reflective piece fully addressing the impact that the Registrant’s behaviour has had on the profession and public confidence in the profession.

·        Up to date testimonials from people with knowledge of the voluntary or paid work the Registrant may have undertaken in the previous 6 months.

10.    The case was due to be reviewed by the HCPTS on 4 December 2017 but was adjourned on that date following receipt by email on 01 December 2017 of two documents:  one was an undated reflective piece from the Registrant in which she referred to making repayment to the court, and the other dated 30 November 2017, was an unsigned testimonial from Elly Kironde, Leading Pastor of Kingdom of Love Ministries.  In her undated letter, the Registrant had indicated that she was unable to travel to the HCPTS for the hearing due to ill health.  That panel decided to adjourn the review hearing as it considered that the Registrant had not been given the opportunity to appear by telephone at the hearing.  

Decision:

11.    In reaching its decision, the Panel today took account of the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”.    It has had regard to the evidence of the Registrant, and to the submissions made by both parties.  It has received and accepted legal advice.

12.    In her oral submissions, the Registrant explained that she had not been in work since her suspension and has found it difficult to obtain work given her criminal record.   She stated that she spends most of her time at home and that it has been a very challenging time for her and for her family.   She described the consequences of her actions as being devastating.   She accepted that there were no excuses for her actions and said that she could not explain it.   She had had a long time to look back and think about how she should have done things differently.   She said that she had thought about how she would view her actions if she was viewing what she had done as a member of the public and said she would have lost confidence in social workers as a profession.   She expressed regret for what she had done.  

13.    The Registrant confirmed that she had completed the 80 hours community service imposed by the Magistrates’ Court.   She also confirmed that since her suspension she had not taken any steps to keep her skills and knowledge up to date and that her current knowledge is not as good as it could be.   She explained that she had not provided any documentary evidence from Southampton City Council regarding repaying the amounts that she owes it, nor from the Department for Work and Pensions, from whom she has had no contact.   She confirmed that she has been taken to court regarding the amounts she owes to these authorities and that the court is currently reassessing her financial situation to see what she can repay.   She had made a payment of £130 to the court in November 2017.     She also referred to health issues which have affected her ability to obtain paid work at this time.   She said that she wanted to repay the amount due to both authorities even if it was by way of a small monthly amount.

14.    The Panel has read all the documents provided to it, including the undated letter from the Registrant sent by email on 1 December 2017, and the testimonial from Pastor Elly Kironde dated 30 November 2017.     

15.    The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practice remains impaired.   The Panel was encouraged that the Registrant had engaged with today’s hearing and was satisfied that she had shown proper remorse for her actions.   It was also of the view that the Registrant had demonstrated a genuine appreciation of the seriousness of what she had done and of its impact on the reputation of the Social Work profession.   This was reflected both in her oral and written submissions to the Panel.  The Panel is of the view that the risk of any repetition of the dishonest behaviour involved in the convictions is low.

16.    However, the Panel considered that there had not yet been sufficient documentary evidence of remediation.  The Registrant had not provided any documentary evidence from Southampton City Council, the Department for Work and Pensions or from the relevant Magistrates’ Court, to show that she has started to repay the amounts due and to show how much has been repaid by her. She explained to the Panel that her financial situation was now subject to a reassessment by the court, to determine the level of repayment.   The Panel considers that the Registrant needs to proactively obtain and then provide to the HCPC the relevant evidence pertaining to any repayment arrangements or agreements.   

17.    The Panel also noted that it is now over three years since the Registrant last worked as a Social Worker.   Whilst it is concerned that she has not taken any steps to maintain her knowledge, it is encouraged that the Registrant recognised this.  

18.    The Panel is of the view that a well-informed member of the public in the circumstances of this case, where the Registrant has yet to show that she has taken appropriate steps to remedy her actions and where she has not kept her knowledge up to date, would consider that a finding of impairment is required to uphold proper professional standards and to maintain confidence in the Social Work profession.  

19.    The Panel has therefore decided that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

20.    The Panel then considered what the appropriate and proportionate order was in this case.   It was referred to and took account of the HCPTS Indicative Sanctions Policy, and received and accepted legal advice.  

21.    The Panel considered its powers under Article 30 (1) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 and the available sanctions in ascending order of seriousness.  It has in mind that the purpose of a sanction was not to punish the Registrant but to protect the public.    It decided that to take no action in this case would not be appropriate or proportionate given that the convictions both involved dishonest behaviour.   To take no action would not manage the risks identified in this case and the Panel was satisfied that to ensure the public was properly protected, it had to impose a sanction.   

22.    The Panel next considered a Caution Order and concluded that this was not appropriate in this case.   Although the Panel decided that there was a low risk of recurrence, there was insufficient evidence of steps taken to remedy the dishonest behaviour.  Additionaly, the convictions and the amounts involved could not be described as either relatively minor, or at the lower end of the scale.    

23.    The Panel also took the view that a Conditions of Practice Order was not appropriate in this case.   The concerns in this case did not involve practice deficiencies and arose outside the work domain.  The Panel concluded that it could not devise conditions that were appropriate, proportionate, workable and verifiable in this case.

24.    The Panel next considered a Suspension Order.  The Panel noted that of the four areas which the last reviewing panel had indicated may assist this Panel, the Registrant had made progress since the last review hearing and had been able to satisfy it in respect of three areas: attendance, reflection (in which she has shown appropriate remorse and developing insight), and the provision of a testimonial. It was in the provision of documentary proof of the repayments to the two authorities where the Panel felt that the evidence was insufficient but not yet such that it felt that a further Suspension Order was now inappropriate.   The Panel has decided that the appropriate and proportionate order is a Suspension Order for a further period of 6 months.   In deciding on that period, the Panel had in mind that it should give the Registrant another, and possibly final, opportunity to show that she had remedied her convictions by making proper and appropriate plans to make repayments to the two authorities concerned.   

25.    The Panel concluded that a striking off order was a sanction of last resort, generally reserved for the most serious cases.   It noted that it was now some time since the Registrant was first suspended by the HCPTS and whilst the Registrant had made some progress, the time may come, when a striking off order would be the appropriate and proportionate order. The Panel was satisfied this time had not yet come and to impose such a sanction today would be disproportionate and unduly punitive.   

26.    This Suspension Order will be reviewed before its expiry.    This will enable the Registrant to obtain and provide evidence of remediation.   The Panel considers that the next reviewing panel may be assisted by the Registrant:

·        Attending the next review hearing (in person or by telephone);

·        Producing independent documentary evidence of payments made to Southampton City Council and to the Department of Works and Pensions.   This could be by producing any correspondence with those authorities (regardless of date); any correspondence with the court (regardless of date); any independent schedule of payments made; any written agreement of payments, bank statements etc;

·        Providing evidence of keeping her knowledge up to date, for example by reading relevant journals, social work publicaions, magazines, on-line social work blogs, policies, legislation or carrying out on-line research or undertaking any free on-line courses.

·        Providings further up to date signed tesimonials from persons with knowledge of the voluntary or paid work the Registrant may have undertaken in the previous 6 months.  

 

 

Order

Order:  The Registrar is directed to suspend the registration of Miss Robinah Kamya Guweddeko for a further period of 6 months on the expiry of the existing order.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply with immediate effect. 

This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 4 July 2018

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Robinha Kamya Guweddeko

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
30/05/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
04/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
04/12/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Adjourned
08/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
06/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended