Fitness to Practise Cases: Racist language, inappropriate cuddling and calling a supervisor a “crap manager”

Here are some of the recent Fitness to Practise cases heard by the Health and Care Professions Council

Published on 10th November 2015

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A number of cases have come before the HCPC recently including racist remarks, inappropriately cuddling a 12-year-old and breaching professional boundaries and calling a supervisor a "crap manager".

Social worker who requests her coffee to be “n*gger brown” is cautioned

Social worker Nichola Suzanne Dore Taylor was employed by the City of Stoke-on-Trent Council when on 11 December 2013, she responded to a question from a colleague that she would like her coffee to be ‘n*gger brown’.

Ms Dore Taylor admitted making the comment but denied that it was racist.

The Panel has accepted that this racist phrase was used in relation to the strength of a cup of coffee. It was not used as a descriptor of an individual nor directed at an individual. The Panel believed that the racist comment was reckless rather than underpinned by intent. However, the use of this term by a social worker is unacceptable and would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners.

Ms Dore Taylor lost her employment and has suffered financially for the last two years and has emotionally suffered as a result of her misconduct. She has undertaken Continuing Professional Development, including a course through ACAS on Equality and Diversity. The Panel was presented with testimonials.

Nichola Dore Taylor was issued with a one-year Caution Order.

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Social worker struck off for breaching professional boundaries

Social worker Daithi Tobin was found to have breached professional boundaries by inappropriately cuddling, touching and squeezing past Child A who was aged 12, brushing his hands on the child’s bottom while working with Kaleidoscope Therapeutic Child Care on a self-employed basis from June 2010. Mr Tobin was also found to have discussed sexual matters relating to himself and his family with Child A’s foster carer and initiated inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature with Foster Carer B. At a previous hearing he had been issued with a Conditions of Practice Order, but following a lack of engagement with the HCPC and an email from Mr Tobin saying he has no intention of practising social work, the HCPC Review Panel struck him from the register.

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Social worker who called her senior a “crap manager” is cleared of misconduct

Social worker Andrea Andrews-Smith called her supervisor a “crap manager” adding that “she won’t last five minutes.” She also alleged that her manager was racist. Andrews-Smith made inappropriate comments about fellow workers such as: “Go sort your hair out. As a black woman you can't go around carrying yourself like that,” and raised issues with her staff about their work in front of others. She was cleared of misconduct and the Panel found her Fitness to Practise was not impaired. She was found not-guilty of making comments including: “I don't like any of them f***ing bitches” and that a worker “was like a monkey in a wig” or words to that effect as the evidence against her was inconsistent.

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Social worker who failed to report a disclosure of violence is allowed to practise following review

Social worker Klaudeta Risto had been previously issued with a Conditions to Practice Order by a HCPC Panel which found that when she was working at Sunderland Council in February 2012, Child A disclosed that his father had hit him and his mother yet Ms Risto did not identify relevant child protection issues for Child A, and did not report the disclosure to her Team Manager or Principal Social Worker. Child A was therefore placed at risk of harm.

At this review hearing, Ms Risto gave evidence to the Panel, confirmed the contents of her written reflective document which was before the Panel and gave examples of when she has referred such matters to her current line manager so that appropriate decisions can be made. Ms Risto added that she had kept her professional skills up to date both by reading professional journals and by daily discussion with her social work colleagues and she felt that she was up to date with the legislation and procedures. The Panel heard how she recognised her past failings and how she would act differently now. The Panel was also presented with a current reference and a letter from her employer.

The Panel was satisfied on the evidence that Ms Risto had good insight and had remediated as far as she could reasonably do, and therefore her fitness to practise was no longer impaired.

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Social worker’s suspension for inadequately safeguarding children extended

Social worker Julie Mirvis was suspended for a 12 month period in October 2013 for failing to maintain clear and accurate records, and therefore not providing adequate safeguarding to vulnerable children, whilst employed by Kent County Council.

The Review Panel received a letter from Ms Mirvis on 6 October 2015 explaining that she has worked very hard to ensure that her fitness to practise is no longer impaired. She has also worked as a carer in a care agency in order to gain experience prior to returning to practise as a social worker as a care manager working with older people. She has attended training courses and commenced employment on 1 September 2015 as a supervisor in the care agency.

However, there were no references from her current employer or documentary evidence of training courses successfully completed by Ms Mirvis and no adequate reflection on matters which brought her before the HCPC.

The Review Panel extended her suspension for six months to enable her to provide the necessary information for a future reviewing panel.

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