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Social worker suspended for inappropriate messages

HCPC suspends social worker who sent service user inappropriate texts

Published on 23rd September 2017

The Health and Care Professions Council has suspended a social worker from the register after he sent inappropriate messages to a service user.

Daniel Smith, a registered social worker who was working as a Prevention Worker within the Learning Disabilities team at Sheffield Council, sent inappropriate messages to Service User A over a period of three months, including messages that read ‘I’m horny’ or words to that effect and ‘you’re sexy’ or words to that effect.

Mr Smith’s role as a Prevention Worker involved working with service users aged 18 and over who were diagnosed with, or suspected of having, learning disabilities. His role involved screening cases for eligibility for the use of the Learning Disabilities Service, offering advice and information to service users and referring service users to services outside the Council.

Service User A has mental health issues, particularly around anxiety. She was struggling with everyday tasks and thought this might be as a result of dyscalculia (a condition relating to basic arithmetic). The case was allocated to Mr Smith who was expected to find services that could help Service User A and organise a screening of her condition.

Mr Smith completed the work that was expected of him in respect of Service User A and arranged for her to be assessed. The result of the assessment was that Service User A was not suffering from dyscalculia. As a result, Service User A’s case was closed on 6 July 2015 and Mr Smith left the Learning Disabilities team on or around 27 July 2015.

The text messages were sent in July and August after the case was closed. Mr Smith said that he sent the text messages by mistake to Service User A, and that they were intended for his partner. He also stated that he did not realise that he had been exchanging texts with Service User A until some 24 messages had been sent between them. He finally realised that he had been texting the wrong person when Service User A sent him a message to say that she was not interested.

Mr Smith also accessed the files of Service User A in September after her case was closed in July and he had left the team and therefore he had no professional reason to do this.

Mr Smith also failed to make a safeguarding referral to his line manager and/or a Safeguarding Agency in respect of Service User A threatening to physically harm to herself.

Panel Chair David Clark said: “By his actions towards Service User A, Mr Smith placed her at unwarranted risk of harm. His poor judgment and limited insight indicated to the Panel that there is a risk of his repeating similar actions in the future. This could place other service users at risk.”

The Panel ordered for the name of Daniel Smith to be suspended from the HCPC Register for 12 months.

 

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