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Social worker suspended for failing to adequately assess risks to vulnerable young people

15 April 2019
Social Care Wales

A social worker from Bridgend has been suspended for 12 months with conditions after a hearing found her fitness to practise was currently impaired because of her misconduct and lack of competence.

Patricia Jones, who was employed as a social worker by Bridgend County Borough Council for more than 10 years, admitted that between February 2014 and March 2015 she failed to adequately assess the risks posed to a number of vulnerable young people.

As a senior social worker, Ms Jones was responsible for screening referrals made to the social services department and the hearing was told that in four cases she failed to adequately assess the risk to the young people involved.

In three of the cases, rather than making further enquiries or referring the cases for assessment, Ms Jones inappropriately closed the cases with no action.

The fourth case involved three siblings, but Ms Jones only opened the case for one sibling, having failed to assess the risk to the other two.

The allegations against Ms Jones came to light after complaints were made by professionals from external organisations.

Explaining why it found Ms Jones’s fitness to practise impaired, the committee told her: “We carefully assessed the level of insight shown within your written submission and your oral evidence.

“We were concerned that you still showed limited insight into the effect of your actions on individuals, your colleagues and the reputation of the local authority and of the profession.

“We were not confident that your integrity could be relied upon if you were to return to employment as a social worker at this point.”

The committee decided to suspend Ms Jones from working in a registered social care role in Wales for 12 months with conditions.

Explaining its decision to suspend Ms Jones, the committee said: “We have concluded that this order best balances the need to protect the public with the competing need to ensure you are afforded an opportunity to return to practise once you have remediated the impairment we have identified.”

The suspension began on 4 April 2019 and will remain in place until 3 April 2020.

Ms Jones will only be allowed to return to the Register when she satisfactorily meets the conditions imposed by the committee, which include undertaking training on the protection of vulnerable children and multi-agency safeguarding.

The three-day hearing took place at our Cardiff office between 2-4 April 2019.