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Social worker struck off for failing to conduct statutory visits

HCPC Panel strikes off social worker who recorded visits that she had not made after she fails to engage with regulatory process

Published on 29th April 2019

A social worker has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register after recording that she had made statutory visits to service users when she had not.

Mrs Collette C Fowles was suspended from the register in April 2018 for recording electronically that she had carried out five statutory visits to three service users when she had indeed not made the visits.

But following a year of suspension and failing to engage with the regulatory process, a Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service Panel decided to strike Mrs Fowles from the register.

"The Registrant's lack of engagement from this process from the beginning and continuing to today has forced this Panel to conclude that no amount of suggestion, hint or advice from this process is going to result in the Registrant engaging and, ultimately, through full remediation, achieving safe and effective practice," said the Panel.

Mrs Fowles was registered as a social worker and employed by Knowsley Council between 3 May 2010 and 2 September 2016. On 1 April 2012, she was promoted to the role of senior practitioner in the Children’s Social Care Team.

Between November 2014 to July 2015, Mrs Fowles was absent from work. When she returned to work she was given less responsibility and a reduced caseload in a bid to support Mrs Fowles' return. One of her responsibilities was to carry out statutory visits to children on her caseload.

However, it was alleged that Mrs Fowles failed to carry out the five statutory visits she was required to undertake in March and April 2016 in relation to the three separate service users (A, B and C), but that she recorded that she had done so.

On 17 April 2018, a Panel of the HCPC found all the facts in the allegation proved and found that Mrs Fowles was dishonest as to four of the five visits, where she knowingly recorded the visits when she knew they had not taken place. That Panel also found misconduct proved and that the her fitness to practise was impaired at that time. The Panel imposed a sanction of a 12 Month Suspension Order which is due to expire on 15 May 2019.

In the first review of the suspension this month, the Panel assessed Mrs Fowles' case after the 12 month period of the initial sanction imposed and noted that she had continued not to engage with this process and, as a result, had not demonstrated that she has understood the consequences of her dishonest misconduct.

"The findings of the previous Panel centred around the Registrant’s lack of honesty and integrity, with multiple instances of dishonest conduct, albeit over a relatively short period of time. This Panel concurs with that Panel that the misconduct found proved was serious, with a potentially high risk of harm to service users and the wider public," said the Panel.

The Panel stated that while the dishonesty was of medium seriousness and therefore possible to remediate, Mrs Fowles' lack of engagement with the process meant she had failed to demonstrate any contrition, insight and the commencement, at the very least, of a remediation of the failings identified in the 2018 hearing.

As a result, they found her fitness to practise remains impaired.

Mrs Fowles had been of previous good character and had been praised in her work by colleagues. Yet her failure to engage meant that even if she were to be given another, perhaps shorter, period of suspension, she may still not engage meaningfully or provide the information required.

"It has been nearly three years since the Registrant last practised as a social worker and she has still not produced any reflective piece, she has shown no insight and has never attended any hearing. This was a serious misconduct case, where there has been shown, by today, that the Registrant is unwilling to address the issues raised by the case found proved against her and where she still has not shown remorse, apologised or demonstrated any insight," the Panel concluded.

It added that a further period of suspension would be fruitless and, by reason of the 12 months having produced no further contact from the Registrant, disproportionate. For these reasons the Panel has concluded that the only proportionate and appropriate sanction is that of a Striking Off Order.


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