Social worker who created false medical document to support sick leave is struck off
'Diligent' social worker struck off register after suspension for falsifying medical documents
Published on 14th May 2019
A social worker has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register after she created a letter claiming to be from a hospital regarding planned surgery to support a request for sickness leave.
Ms Angeleque Marie Morgan created a letter from Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust dated 5 August 2016 regarding planned surgery and submitted the letter to her employer to support her request for sickness leave.
"The Panel concluded that removal from the register is the only means to protect service users and the wider public interest which includes maintenance of confidence in the regulatory process," said the Panel.
In June 2016, Ms Morgan mentioned to her line manager, Witness 2, that in August 2016 she would require three to six weeks sickness leave due to surgery. In a meeting on 26 July 2016, the line manager asked Ms Morgan to provide a clinic appointment letter in respect of pre-operative tests that Ms Morgan said she would be having on 10 August 2016.
On 8 August 2016, the line manager Witness 2 sent an email to Ms Morgan confirming she needed to see documentation to confirm any necessary time off “for pre-op procedures and the scheduled surgery”.
On 9 August 2016 Ms Morgan emailed Witness 2 to say that she had spoken to her consultant who had issued a letter to her GP and she would scan a copy of the letter to Witness 2. Witness 2 replied by email the same day to say that the requested leave for the pre-operative test, which was allegedly scheduled for the following day, could not be confirmed until the necessary documentary confirmation had been provided.
Witness 2 sent a further email to Ms Morgan to confirm that the required documentation should be provided to a nominated officer (SG - who would be covering for Witness 2 the following day) and, unless the documentation was provided, then she should attend work on 10 August 2016 and any absence on her part would be considered to be unauthorised.
On 10 August 2016, Ms Morgan emailed SG with the letter which was on what appeared to be Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust letter headed paper. It was addressed to Ms Morgan's GP and shown as copied to Ms Morgan. It went on to say that Ms Morgan would probably need to stay in hospital for approximately three to four days and have a four week period of “home rest”.
However, Witness 2 became suspicious as to the content and format of the letter. It appeared to her that the letter headed portion of the letter did not seem properly lined up within the document, there were page numbers missing and the letter seemed to contain, in the experience of Witness, more information than would normally be found in such a letter.
Ms Morgan's workplace computer system was examined and a saved document was found on the system that had the wording of the letter but which did not show the hospital letterhead.
On 31 August 2016 it came to the notice of Witness 3, an Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud Manager, that on 24 August 2016 Ms Morgan had travelled by air from the UK to the Czech Republic (Prague).
Witness 1 was appointed as an investigating officer on 13 September 2016 to undertake an investigation into the circumstances. She was provided with documentation which included a copy of an email exchange found on Ms Morgan's work computer system between her and a hospital in Prague which provided cosmetic surgery services.
The email made it clear that from June 2016 Ms Morgan was in email contact with the hospital in Prague and she was planning to arrive in Prague on 24 August 2016 for the purpose of treatment at that hospital. This was not the treatment described in the letter provided by Ms Morgan to her employer. The treatment was booked to take place on 26 August 2016.
Greenwich Council, where Ms Morgan worked, pursued disciplinary action and she was dismissed from her employment.
A HCPC Final Hearing Panel said in March 2018 that Ms Morgan's actions fell short of what would be proper in the circumstances and clearly amounted to misconduct. The conduct was a breach of trust for personal gain.
In her oral evidence Witness 2 confirmed that she worked with Ms Morgan as her line manager on a daily basis and she was “absolutely” one of the most diligent social workers she had worked with. Her detailed assessments were always produced in an exceptionally quick time and Witness 2 was very pleased with Ms Morgan's practice. She would always be the first to offer help to other practitioners and her timekeeping was good. Witness 2 said she was shocked by Ms Morgan's actions as it had been totally out of character.
The Panel decided to suspend Ms Morgan for nine months and at a review hearing in December 2018, she was suspended for a furtehr six months even though on 6 December 2018, Ms Morgan indicated that she was no longer committed to remaining in the profession. The Panel noted that she is unable to return to the UK because her Tier 2 visa was revoked upon her employer terminating her employment with them as a result of her suspension from the HCPC register. The Panel determined to further suspend her registration for a period of time sufficient for her to respond and for the agreement for voluntary removal to be effected before the next review is due.
At a review of this suspension last week, the panel referred to an email from Ms Morgan sent on 7 May 2019 indicating that she no longer resides in the UK and has no intention of returning here to practise as a social worker. She added that she was no longer committed to remaining in the profession in the UK. There was no information apart from residency regarding her current circumstances, including any continuing professional development since the allegation was proved against her.
The Panel concluded that Ms Morgan's repeated failure to address the serious concerns that have been identified, the absence of insight and her inability or unwillingness to engage with these proceedings is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration. The Panel concluded that removal from the register is the only means to protect service users and the wider public interest which includes maintenance of confidence in the regulatory process and struck her from the register.
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