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Social worker struck off after accessing service user record with no professional reason to do so

HCPC strikes off social worker after she accessed service users' records with no professional reason to do so

Published on 19th September 2018

A social worker who accessed the records of a service user when she had no professional reason for doing so has been struck off the register following two periods of suspension.

 

Mrs Kelly Anne Wheldrick was employed as a social worker by Wakefield Council within the Shared Lives team when she accessed the record of Service User A held on the Care Director system on three separate occasions.

It also emerged that Mrs Wheldrick had also accessed the record of Service User B as well as records pertaining to other service users when she did not have an obvious work reason for doing so.

The case came to light when the Team Manager of the Complex Care Needs team identified on 8 January 2016 that Mrs Wheldrick had on three separate occasions accessed the record of Service User A held on the Care Director system. Care Director is the electronic case record system used by Wakefield Council for all the social services departments within the authority. It holds all the referrals made to social services and records information relating to service users.

The Complex Care Needs team manager noticed that Service User A’s records had been accessed when she was undertaking an audit of Service User A’s record prior to locking the record down. It was Wakefield Council’s policy to lock down or restrict access to case records of service users whose relatives were employed by the Council to help maintain confidentiality.

When questioned, Mrs Wheldrick admitted that she had accessed Service User A’s record on Care Director and also disclosed that she had accessed the Care Director record of the perpetrator of a crime against Service User A.

An investigation report was commissioned and during the investigation, it was found that she had also accessed the record of Service User B as well as records pertaining to other service users when she did not have an obvious work reason for doing so.

Mrs Wheldrick resigned from her position on 12 July 2016.

The final hearing Panel suspended Mrs Wheldrick for a six month period and this was extended by six month at a review hearing.

This review panel in September noted that Mrs Wheldrick's resignation letter dated 12 July 2016 as well as her written statement for her disciplinary hearing dated 8 August 2016 had demonstrated an understanding that she should not have acted as she did, and expressed her remorse.

However, there has been no evidence from Mrs Wheldrick demonstrating the level of her insight since the substantive hearing. There is additionally no demonstration of an understanding of the potential impact of  the breaches on,  or potential harm caused to,  individuals who are the subject of such breaches of confidentiality.

Furthermore, there is no demonstration of an understanding of the impact on public perception of such actions, or on public confidence in the profession. Further, there is a lack of evidence that she has taken any steps to address the misconduct found proved. These factors led the panel to conclude that there is, at the present time, a real risk of repetition of a similar kind of behaviour in the future. The Panel therefore found that Mrs Wheldrick's fitness to practise remains impaired.

The Panel took into account the continuing lack of engagement during the period of suspension over the last six months, the lack of any indication from Mrs Wheldrick that she wishes to return to the profession, the lack of evidence of insight since the substantive hearing, or of resolution of the failures found proved, as well  as the ongoing risk of repetition.

The Panel said that Mrs Wheldrick is either unable or unwilling to resolve the concerns. All of these factors led the Panel to decide that striking off is the only appropriate and proportionate way in which the public can be protected, and which can uphold the wider public interest.


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