Mr David Graham Warren

: Social worker

: SW42524

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 24/01/2018 End: 12:30 24/01/2018

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

During your employment as a Social Worker for Leicester City Council:

 

1) In relation to Service User A and Service User B, between approximately April 2012 and August 2012 you:

 

a) Did not take appropriate action when you were made aware that the direct payments were being spent inappropriately;

b) Did not review the progress of the care package in place;

d) Did not follow the correct case closure procedure when closing the case;

 

2. In relation to Service User C you:

 

a) Between approximately February 2014 and March 2014, arranged a meeting with the service user's residential provider to discuss the residential provider's concerns about the service user's sister but you did not inform and/or invite the sister;

b) In March 2014, undertook a reassessment of the service user without involving the service user's sister.

 

3. In relation to Service User D, when the service user moved to a new residential placement in May 2014, you did not provide the new residential placement with:

a) An up-to-date Support Plan Support Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ);

 

4. In relation to Service User E you were made aware that the service user had been slapped by another resident in or around November 2013 but you:

 

a) Did not complete a Notification of Concern; 3

 

b) Did not investigate the incident and/or take any safeguarding action.

 

5. In relation to Service User F you were made aware that the service user had been pushed on two occasions by another resident in or around March 2014 but you:

 

a) Did not record the incidents on the system in a timely manner;

b) Did not complete a Notification of Concern;

c) Did not investigate the incident and/or take any safeguarding action.

 

7. In relation to Service User H you were made aware that the service user had hit or been hit by other residents on more than one occasion in or around March 2014 but:

 

a) Did not complete a Notification of Concern;

b) Did not investigate the incidents and/or take any safeguarding action.

 

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

 

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

Finding

1. It was determined that all but Particular 2(a) of the above factual particulars amounted to Misconduct, and that there was no lack of competence on the Registrant’s part.

Preliminary Matters

2. The notice of this hearing was sent to the Registrant at his address as it appeared in the register on 15 December 2017. The notice contained the date, time and venue of today’s hearing.

3. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, and is satisfied that notice of today’s hearing has been served in accordance with Rule 6(1) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (the “Rules”).
Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

4. The Panel then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registrant pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules. In doing so, it considered the submissions of Ms Kalay on behalf of the HCPC.

5. Ms Kalay submitted tha t the HCPC has taken all reasonable steps to serve the notice on the Registrant. She further submitted that the Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC, and that an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. His last contact with the HCPC was during the substantive hearing. Ms Kalay reminded the Panel that there was a public interest in this matter being dealt with expeditiously.

6. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He advised that, if the Panel is satisfied that all reasonable efforts have been made to notify the Registrant of the hearing, then the Panel had the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant.

7. The Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the case of GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162 and advised that the Adeogba case reminded the Panel that its primary objective is the protection of the public and of the public interest. In that regard, the case of Adeogba was clear that “where there is good reason not to proceed, the case should be adjourned; where there is not, however, it is only right that it should proceed”.

8. It was clear, from the principles derived from case law, that the Panel was required to ensure that fairness and justice were maintained when deciding whether or not to proceed in a Registrant’s absence.

9. The Panel was satisfied that all reasonable efforts had been made by the HCPC to notify the Registrant of the hearing.

10. In deciding whether to exercise its discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel took into consideration the HCPTS practice note entitled ‘Proceeding in the Absence of a Registrant’. The Panel weighed its responsibility for public protection and the expeditious disposal of the case with the Registrant’s right to a fair hearing.

11. In reaching its decision the Panel took into account the following:

• The Notice of Hearing had been returned marked “RETURN TO SENDER. NO LONGER LIVES HERE”
• The Registrant had engaged with the process up until the substantive hearing, during which he told the Panel that he had retired in 2015 and did not wish to return to the profession;
• There is a public interest that this substantive order is reviewed before it expires.

12. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant had voluntarily disengaged from the process. It determined that it was unlikely that an adjournment would result in the Registrant’s attendance at a later date, in the light of the non-engagement of the Registrant. Having weighed the public interest for expedition in cases against the Registrant’s own interest, the Panel decided to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.

Background

13. The Registrant commenced his employment with Leicester City Council (the Council) as a social worker on 23 May 2005. From 2011 and during the time of the allegation, he was working as a social worker within the Council’s Locality Team, working within adult services. His Line Manager was JB, Witness 2.

14. In September 2013, concerns were raised by the Council’s Finance Team in relation to inappropriate spending of Direct Payments on behalf of two service users, known in these proceedings as Service Users A and B, for whom the Registrant was the allocated social worker. Direct Payments are payments made by the Council for the social care of service users, where they arrange and pay for care themselves rather than receiving care from the Local Authority. There was not an exhaustive list of what Direct Payments can be used for but it should be set out clearly in the support plan and some use of payment may need additional authorisation.

15. An investigation within the Council led to the uncovering of additional concerns about the Registrant’s practice. The investigation was undertaken by RK, Witness 1, a Locality General Manager at the Council and the Investigating Officer for this matter.

16. The investigation uncovered a number of alleged failings by the Registrant, concerning management of cases and recording. The concerns included inappropriate action or inaction on cases, some of which involved harm or potential harm to service users.

17. The matter was referred to the HCPC by the Council and at the substantive hearing the above Particulars were found proved, and also that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. A Suspension Order of twelve months was imposed.

Decision

Submissions

18. Ms Kalay, on behalf of the HCPC said that the Registrant has disengaged from the process. She drew the Panel’s attention to the evidence given by the Registrant at the substantive hearing that he had retired from the profession from 2015 and had no intention of returning to practise as a social work. Ms Kalay submitted that an extension of the current order would serve no useful purpose and would not be in the public interest and therefore the HCPC recommends that the Registrant’s name be struck off the register. Ms Kalay further submitted that the Panel may wish to impose a Suspension Order for a short period to enable the Registrant the opportunity to engage and provide evidence of insight and remediation.

Legal advice

19. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the evidence to determine if the Registrant is fit to return to unrestricted practice. The Panel’s role was not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations nor was it to go behind the previous findings. The Legal Assessor advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment.

20. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired then the Panel must go on to consider what sanction, if any, should be imposed. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that if it determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired all the options under Article 30 of the 2001 Order could be exercised by the Panel. He also advised the Panel that it should bear in mind the principle of fairness and proportionality and have regard to the Indicative Sanctions Policy document issued by the HCPC. He reminded the Panel that any order that it makes under Article 30 should not be punitive in purpose, and that it should be the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public and/or is otherwise in the public interest.


Panel’s considerations and decision

21. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. The Panel took into consideration all the documentation before it, and the submissions of Ms Kalay.

22. There is no evidence before the Panel today that could satisfy it that the Registrant’s fitness to practice was no longer impaired. He has disengaged from the process and, by his own evidence, had retired from the profession with no intention of returning to practise as a Social Worker. It is clear that the Registrant is no longer committed to the profession.

23. In the light of all the above, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

24. The Panel then went on to consider what the appropriate and proportionate sanction should be. It took into account the determination of the panel that imposed the substantive Order. It also had regard to the Indicative Sanctions Guide issued by the HCPC and considered the available sanctions in order of severity, starting with the least restrictive. In the light of the lack of engagement and no evidence of any steps having been taken to remediate and to demonstrate insight, the Panel determined that it was not appropriate to take no further action, nor was it appropriate to impose a Caution Order, or Conditions of Practice Order.

25. In the light of all the above, the Panel considered that a further period of suspension was also not appropriate. It took into account that the Registrant has been suspended since 30 January 2017, and he has not engaged nor demonstrated any insight into his misconduct since then. The Panel in January 2017 was clear in its determination about the possible consequences of non-engagement: 
“The Registrant should be aware that the suspension made today will be reviewed before it expires. When it is reviewed, the reviewing Panel will have the opportunity to make any sanction decision that could have been made today. This will include the making of a striking-off order. If the Registrant wishes to avail himself of the opportunity of addressing the shortcomings identified by the present Panel, then he should present clear evidence of steps taken towards remediation to the reviewing Panel. He should also demonstrate how he has gained insight. The order to be made by the reviewing Panel will, of course, be a matter for that Panel to determine, but the Registrant would be well advised to approach the review on the basis that if he does not wish to avail himself of the opportunity to remediate the findings made, there is real prospect that the reviewing Panel will make a striking off order on the basis that no lesser sanction than further suspension would be appropriate, and a further period of suspension would serve no useful purpose.”

The Panel today has concluded that a further period of suspension would serve no useful purpose and would not be in the public interest.

26. The Panel noted that the Registrant was sent a letter dated 12 December 2017 by the HCPC advising him that he had the option to seek voluntary removal from the Register.  The HCPC did not receive a reply to this letter. 

27. The Panel determined that the appropriate and proportionate sanction now is to strike the Registrant’s name off the Register.


 

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of David Graham Warren from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 27 February 2018 when the current order expires.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr David Graham Warren

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
24/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
30/01/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended