A Social Worker has been struck off from the HCPC register after it was found that he had falsely claimed additional work totalling the sum of £946. As such the HCPC Panel found that the Social Workers actions were dishonest and a clear demonstration of misconduct. Therefore, agreed that his fitness to practise was impaired.
Facts of the case:
The Social Worker had been taken on as an agency worker by the CAFCASS on 31st July 2013 for an initial period of 6-8 weeks. His role was that of a Family Court Adviser based in the Early Intervention Team, with responsibility for children going through the family court system. The Social Worker’s contract was terminated on 4th September 2013.
However, concerns were later raised about the accuracy of the Social Worker’s timesheets. These documents claimed that he had worked from 9.00am to 5.00pm on one day in August 2013 and eleven days in September 2013.
Additionally, he submitted eight timesheets (dated from the 4th August to 20th September 2013), which contained allegedly forged signatures of the Enhanced Service Manager with CAFCASS. It was found that all timesheets contained incorrect information in that they wrongly purported to show the Social Worker had worked for a total of twenty days and was therefore entitled to be paid.
The Social Worker received a total sum of £946 for work he never performed. None of this money has been returned.
During the hearing, the Social Worker gave no evidence but the Panel paid appropriate regard to his email dated the 5th November 2013. The Social Worker maintained that neither he nor his wife acted dishonestly or fraudulently and contended that both he and she presumed that the hours of work covered by the timesheets had been checked and authorised. However, these contentions of the Social Worker were dismissed by the Panel as being incapable of belief.
The Panel has found that he had been responsible for repeated acts of dishonesty for gain and that they were all conducted within the context of his employment as a Social Worker.
The Panel concluded that the Social Workers behaviour meant that he had breached the standards of conduct, performance and ethics:
- 3 – You must keep high standards of personal conduct.
- 13 – You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in your or your profession.
The Panel was satisfied that the allegation of misconduct was well founded and he was subsequently struck off from the register.
Recently, I have questioned the appropriateness of some of the referrals/hearings that have appeared before the HCPC Panel. I have asked myself the question: “If those referred were in a different profession, would they face the same scrutiny as us Social Workers?” The answer I believe is probably not.
However, integrity is at the heart of the Social Work profession. Therefore, any Social Worker who acts in such a dishonest way – as detailed above – will continue to (and inevitably) undermine public confidence in our profession. It is a profession that already receives a ‘bad press’.
So, let us continue to reflect and learn from these serious wrong doings/mistakes that are made by a very small number of practitioners so as we can 1) protect our own practice and 2) offer a service to those that are most in need – societies most vulnerable. Keep up the good work folks!