Miss Mary Wangui

: Social worker

: SW19115

Interim Order: Imposed on 19 Mar 2015

: Interim Order Review

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 01/02/2018 End: 12:00 01/02/2018

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Struck off

Allegation

While working for the Council between 24 September 2012 and 17 November 2014, you:
1. In relation to Children A, B and C;
a) On or around 4 August 2014, arranged for them to be placed with Person 1 and you:
i. Did not undertake an adequate assessment of Person 1’s suitability to care for the children;
ii. Did not provide Team Manager 1 with all of the relevant information in relation to the placement of the children with Person 1 when requesting authorisation for the placement.
b) Your actions at paragraphs 1a) i) and/or 1a) ii) placed the children at risk.

2. [Found Not Proved]

3. In relation to Service User H:
a) You told the Court under oath that:
i. [Found Not Proved];
ii. [Found Not Proved].
b) In or around July 2014, you did not ensure that viability assessments in relation to potential carers for Service User H’s baby were completed.
c) [Found Not Proved].

4. In relation to Service User B, between March and June 2014
a) [Found Not Proved];
b) [Found Not Proved].

5. [Found Not Proved].

6. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 to 5 constitute misconduct and / or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary matters
Proof of service
1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been posted on 3 January 2018 by first class post, to the address shown for the Registrant on the HCPC register.  The Panel was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (as amended).

Proceeding in absence
2. Having determined that service of the Notice of Hearing had been properly effected, the Panel went on to consider whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence. The Panel was advised by the Legal Assessor and followed that advice. The Panel also took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPTS Practice Note ‘Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant’.

3. The Panel determined that it was fair, reasonable and in the public interest to proceed in the Registrant’s absence for the following reasons:
a) The Panel noted that the Registrant did not attend the final hearing in February 2017 and the HCPC has received no communication from her since. In these circumstances the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance was voluntary and therefore a deliberate waiver of her right to attend and her right to participate in these proceedings.
b) There has been no application to adjourn and no indication from the Registrant that she would be willing or able to attend on an alternative date and, therefore, re-listing this review hearing would serve no useful purpose.
c) The Panel recognised that there may be a disadvantage to the Registrant in not being able to make submissions with regard to her current fitness to practise. However, she was given the opportunity to participate and has not taken up that opportunity. In these circumstances, as this is a mandatory review the Registrant’s interests are outweighed by the strong public interest in ensuring that the hearing proceeds expeditiously.

Background
4. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. She was employed by Hertfordshire County Council (the Council) as a Social Worker within the Broxbourne South Safeguarding Locality and Family Support Team (SLFS). She commenced her employment with the Council on 24 September 2012 but started with Broxbourne South SLFS on 25 March 2013.

5. Based on the final hearing panel’s findings the relevant background circumstances are as follows:
• On 4 August 2014, the Registrant was informed that one of her service users, Service User A, had fallen ill and had been taken to hospital in an ambulance. Service User A had three children, and care arrangements needed to be made for the children whilst Service User A was in hospital (Child A, B, and C). The Registrant made arrangements for the children to be cared for by Person 1, Child A and B’s father. In placing Child A, B, and C with Person 1, the Registrant did not carry out an adequate assessment to ensure Person 1’s suitability in caring for the children. The Registrant approached LG, the team manager of another team, to obtain authorisation for placing the children with Person 1, because her team manager, RP, was out of the office. When she spoke with LG, the Registrant did not provide all of the relevant information in relation to the placement.
• The Registrant was responsible for undertaking viability assessments in order to ascertain potential carers for the unborn baby of Service User H who was 17 at the relevant time. The Council was involved throughout Service User H’s pregnancy because there were concerns surrounding her ability to adequately care for the baby once it was born. The Registrant did not complete the viability assessments.

6. The substantive HCPTS final hearing took place on 8-10 February 2017. Having made factual findings, the final hearing panel concluded that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct and that her fitness to practise was impaired. A 12 month Suspension Order was imposed. The final hearing panel concluded that a future review panel would be assisted by:
• A written reflective piece;
• Evidence of relevant CPD and/or recent training addressing the issues identified;
• Workplace testimonials.

HCPC submissions
7. Mr Mason, on behalf of the HCPC, outlined the procedural history of this case. He referred the Panel to the final hearing panel’s suggested information that the Registrant may wish to provide to assist this reviewing panel. He confirmed that there has been no engagement from the Registrant. He submitted that although an extension of the current Suspension Order would protect the public, given the Registrant’s lack of engagement, such an order may be an unnecessary use of the HCPC’s resources. He invited the Panel to consider a Striking Off Order.

Panel’s approach
8. In undertaking this review, the Panel took into account the documentary evidence and the submissions made on behalf of the HCPC.

9. The Panel accepted and applied the advice it received from the Legal Assessor as to the proper approach it should adopt. In particular that:
• The purpose of the review is to consider the issue of impairment based on the previous panel’s findings of fact, the extent to which the Registrant has engaged with the regulatory process, the scope and level of her insight and the risk of repetition.
• In terms of whether her previous misconduct has been sufficiently and appropriately remedied, relevant factors include whether the Registrant:
(i) fully appreciates the gravity of the previous panel’s finding of impairment;
(ii) has maintained or updated her skills and knowledge;
(iii) is likely to place service users at risk if she were to return to unrestricted practice.
• The Panel should have regard to the HCPTS Practice Note on ‘Finding that Fitness to Practise is impaired’ and must take account of a range of issues which, in essence, comprise two components:
(i) the ‘personal’ component: the current competence, behaviour etc. of the individual registrant; and
(ii) the ‘public’ component: the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.
• It is only if the Panel determine that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, that the Panel should go on to consider sanction by applying the guidance as set out in the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP), and the principles of proportionality which require the Registrant’s interests to be balanced against the interests of the public.

Decision  
10. The Panel noted that there has been no engagement from the Registrant since she provided written representations to the HCPC in July 2015 and no engagement since the final hearing took place in February 2017. As a consequence there was no evidence before the Panel that the Registrant appreciates the gravity of her failings, there was no explanation as to how she would behave differently in the future and no assurance that the deficiencies in her practice have been remedied and would therefore not be repeated. In the absence of any insight and any steps the Registrant has taken towards remediation, the Panel concluded that there is an ongoing risk of harm to service users and a real risk of repetition.

11. In the absence of any positive evidence of insight and remediation, the Panel also took the view that there has been no material change in circumstances, with regard to the impact on public trust and confidence. A significant aspect of the public component is upholding proper standards of behaviour. Members of the public would be extremely concerned to learn that a Social Worker responsible for vulnerable service users had failed to protect their interests, as this clearly has the potential to compromise their safety and well-being. The Panel also concluded that a finding of no impairment would fail to declare and uphold proper standards, would undermine confidence in the profession and would undermine public confidence in the HCPC as a professional regulator given the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s previous conduct and behaviour.

12. Therefore, the Panel was led to the inevitable conclusion that, the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. 

13. Having determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired, the Panel went on to consider what sanction, if any, to impose.

14. The Panel first considered taking no action. The Panel concluded that, in view of the nature and seriousness of the Registrant’s misconduct which remains un-remediated to take no action on her registration would be inappropriate. Furthermore it would be insufficient to protect the public, maintain public confidence and uphold the reputation of the profession.

15. The Panel went on to consider a Caution Order. As the Registrant has persistently demonstrated no insight into her misconduct, provided no evidence of remediation and whilst the risk of repetition remains, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would be inappropriate and insufficient to protect the public and meet the wider public interest.

16. The Panel went on to consider a Conditions of Practice Order. The Panel took the view that the Registrant is either unwilling or unable to provide the information that was suggested by the final hearing panel and demonstrate that she was committed to making a return to practice. In these circumstances, this Panel had no confidence that she would comply with a Conditions of Practice Order, even if suitable conditions could be formulated. The Panel was aware that the suggestions made by the previous panel are only indicative and do not have any binding authority, unlike conditions which require compliance. However, both involve willingness on the part of the Registrant and a determined effort. In the absence of any evidence that the Registrant is willing and able to remediate her previous misconduct the Panel concluded that there were no conditions it could devise which would be appropriate, workable and measurable.

17. The Panel next considered extending the current Suspension Order for a further period of time. A Suspension Order would re-affirm to the Registrant and the profession, the standards expected of a registered Social Worker. The Panel noted that a Suspension Order would prevent the Registrant from practising during the extended suspension period, which would therefore protect the public and the wider public interest. A Suspension Order would also provide the Registrant with the opportunity to develop the insight which is essential if she intends to return to practice. However, the Panel took into account paragraph 41 of the ISP which states:

If the evidence suggests that the registrant will be unable to resolve or remedy his or her failings then striking off may be the more appropriate option.’

18. The Panel took the view that the above paragraph applies to the Registrant. The Panel determined that there was no information available to indicate that the Registrant was willing or able to address the deficiencies in her practice. The Registrant had failed to take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate her commitment to social work and a plan towards a return to practice and there was no indication that she would do so in the future. In these circumstances the Panel concluded that extending the current Suspension Order would unnecessarily utilise valuable resources of time and costs and serve no useful purpose. 

19. The Panel determined that a Striking Off Order should be imposed with immediate effect. In reaching this conclusion the Panel took into account paragraph 48 of the ISP which states:
Striking off should be used where there is no other way to protect the public, for example, where there is a lack of insight [or] continuing problems... A registrant’s inability or unwillingness to resolve matters will suggest that a lower sanction may not be appropriate.’

20. The Panel was satisfied that no sanction lower than a Striking Off Order would be sufficient to protect the public and the wider public interest. 

Order

No information currently available

Notes

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Miss Mary Wangui from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Mary Wangui

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
01/02/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Struck off
08/02/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended