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Social worker’s suspension lifted after accepting workload pressures were ‘her responsibility’

  • 21 Mar 2016

A social worker told the HCPC that it was her responsibility to ask for help, after she was suspended for misleading colleagues and missing deadlines

A social worker who misled colleagues about her ability to keep on top of her workload has had her suspension lifted after accepting it was her responsibility to manage the pressure she was under.

The social worker was suspended in February last year after a HCPC fitness to practice hearing she was found to have professional failings which were “persistent, repeated and occurred over an extensive period of time”.

It was found that the children’s social worker had failed to meet court deadlines; and misled colleagues to believe she was close to finishing work on two cases.

Her responsibility

In a review of the suspension order last month, the panel heard how she now understood “it was her responsibility to ask for help if she was unable to cope with the workload”.

The social worker said she was “extremely sorry” for covering up the difficulties she had with her workload. It had affected the reputation of her profession, her council, her colleagues and directly affected the children and families relying on her reports, she said.

The panel decided not to renew her suspension order, and instead imposed a conditions of practice order.

When the suspension order was made, the panel had taken into account “systemic failings within the local authority” and the social worker’s health.

Since her suspension last year, she had taken on a role as a support worker with adults with learning and physical disabilities had helped increase her confidence and improve her health.

“Her current working environment has been positive and her manager is extremely supportive. She said that this has enabled her to be open and honest with her manager and benefit from the supervision sessions,” the panel heard.

Conditions of practice

She added that she had previously found it difficult to speak about health issues “because of the working conditions of the local authority”.

If she was to return to social work it would be in this area, she said, adding she would not return to children’s social work because of the “volume, speed and pressure” of the work.

While it was unlikely the social worker would repeat the misconduct of misleading colleagues, the panel was still concerned about the wide-ranging “deficiencies” in her practice which had been identified.

It said a conditions of practice order would mean “workable and measurable conditions could be drafted that would not only protect the public and the public interest but which would also provide the registrant with a framework of support and structure whereby she could ultimately return to unrestricted safe practice”.