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Social worker struck off by HCPC for having relationship with service user

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The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the current regulator for a wide range of professionals including social workers, paramedics, occupational therapists, clinical scientists, physiotherapists and many more.

The HCPC sets out the standards of conduct expected in the performance of any of these professionals’ duties in each individual profession’s Codes of Practise. In particular, social workers must strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers, and uphold public trust and confidence in social care services.

A registered social worker was struck off the HCPC’s register last week after she was found to be in breach of these core standards within the Codes of Practice for social care workers.

Ms B, who worked for Milton Keynes Council, was alleged to have had an inappropriate relationship with the parent of a service user. It was also alleged that Ms B had left confidential information and case papers relating to other service users unsecured and accessible to this service user.

In order to stand any prospect of avoiding a striking off order in fitness to practise proceedings, it will always be essential for the registrant to demonstrate genuine insight into their alleged failings, and provide sufficient evidence of any appropriate remedial action which has been taken to address those failings and give the fitness to practise panel reassurance that repetition of that conduct will not occur. A striking off order is generally considered to be a sanction of ‘last resort’ in the most serious of cases including those involving dishonesty, an abuse of trust or repeated failings or misconduct.

In this case, the panel was of the view that a striking off order was the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in the circumstances as they were unable to identify any appropriate actions that Ms B. could take to remedy her failings and ensure that repetition would not occur.

The panel chair noted that Ms B. had “demonstrated a reckless disregard for normal standards of conduct expected of a registered social worker.”

Ms B did not attend her fitness to practise hearing nor was she represented, but she did make written submissions. However, it is always advisable to consult a specialist solicitor in such cases in order to obtain specialist advice and representation and to safeguard your career in the best way possible.

By Laura Hannah