CT v General Social Care Council, Court of Appeal - Social workers/social care workers, November 05, 2007,  EWCST 1014(SW)
|Resolution Date:||November 05, 2007|
|Issuing Organization:||Social workers/social care workers|
|Actores:||CT v General Social Care Council|
Care Standards Tribunal
Care Standards Tribunal
The General Social Care Council
Mr. Stewart Hunter (Nominated Chairman)
Ms. Carole Alford
Mrs. Carol Caporn
Sitting at the Care Standards Tribunal, Pocock Street, London
on the 8th and 9th October 2007
At the hearing Mr D Fadina, a solicitor represented CT. Mr. A. Ruck Keene of Counsel, instructed by Bevan Brittan LLP, represented the Respondent.
This is an appeal by CT under Section 68 (1) of the Care Standards Act 2000 (``The Act'') against the decision of the General Social Care Council (``GSCC'') made on the 12th February 2007 to refuse her application for inclusion on the register of social workers, as a student.
On the 13th July 2007 the President of the Tribunal made a Restricted Reporting Order under Regulation 18 (1) of the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults and Care Standards Tribunal Regulations 2001, prohibiting the publication (including by electronic means) in a written publication available to the public, or the inclusion in a relevant programme for reception in England and Wales, of any matters likely to lead members of the public to identify any service user or the appellant, such order to continue in force until the conclusion of the hearing. At the hearing the Tribunal confirmed that the Restricted Reporting Order should remain in force until further order.
The Tribunal read the witness statements from Ms Pam Venus and Mr Divyakumar Patel. The Tribunal also read the statement of Ms W M. The appellant also submitted statements from herself dated 17th February 2007 and the 12th September 2007 as well as giving oral evidence. In addition the Tribunal read letters from Ms Venus, Samual Baeza, Janet Aldridge and Ms LS and considered various documentary evidence produced by both parties.
The appellant completed an application dated 26th September 2005 for registration with the GSCC as a student social worker. On the form the appellant indicated that she had started a BA (Hons) Social Work course at the University of Chichester on the 19th September 2005. The appellant also gave details of her employment, including having worked as a care assistant at a residential home known as B H between the 2nd November 2002 and August 2005. At the time of submitting her application form the appellant indicated that she was working as a care assistant at another home, Cornelius House where she had been since the 4th April 2005.
On the same form the appellant answered questions under the heading ``Discipline record''. In answer to the question
``Is there a current disciplinary finding against you by an employer, educational establishment or other organisation?''
The appellant had replied;
In response to the question:
``Are you currently the subject of a disciplinary investigation by an employer, educational establishment or other organisation?.........''
The appellant had replied;
The application form was received by the GSCC on the 3rd October 2005.
The application for registration was considered by the GSCC and following investigation a recommendation was made by the Head of Conduct at the GSCC, Robin Weekes to refuse the appellant's registration, his recommendation was set out in a notice dated 26th September 2006.
Under the heading of ``Summary of issues of suitability'' he stated the following: -
``The student is on the BA (Hons) Social Works course at Chichester University and began her studies in September 2005.
On page 6 of her application form the student has ``tippexed'' out a declaration relating to her disciplinary record. This stated that she failed to follow instructions during a fire incident and was dismissed from her employment at B H, a residential home for the elderly mentally infirm, in August 2005. The student failed to report this dismissal and the reason for it to Chichester University and to her second employer, Cornelius House.''
The recommendation of Robin Weekes was that: -
``... the applicant be refused registration for the reasons outlined...''
A notice was sent to the appellant indicating that the GSCC had referred her application to its Registration Committee, because it was minded to refuse her registration. The appellant was notified that the Registration Committee would consider her application at its meeting on Wednesday 3rd November 2006. The appellant was advised that she had a right to make written representations to the committee or to attend the meeting to make oral submissions.
The Registration Committee adjourned its meeting on the 3rd November 2006 and the matter was eventually heard on the 12th February 2007. A transcript of that meeting indicated that the appellant attended for part of the proceedings and was represented by Ms Lucia Ndoro of Peter and Co Solicitors. The GSCC subsequently notified the appellant that the outcome of the Registration Committee had been to refuse the appellant's application for registration on the student part of the register. The committee had not been satisfied that the appellant was of good character and conduct. The reasons for the Registration Committee's decision were given as follows: -
(a) The appellant had been dismissed for gross misconduct by Eldra Caru (the owners of B H) on the 16th August 2005 following an incident at B H on the night of the 3rd of August 2005. The appellant had not appealed against the decision. The appellant's acts on the night of the fire indicated a lack of judgement and a failure properly to protect service users. A service user's life was put at risk. In particular the committee noted the appellant's failure to previously close the fire doors and undertake a thorough check of both floors.
(b) The appellant had consistently downplayed the gravity of the incident and her involvement in it to the GSCC, her university and her employer, Cornelius House, because no service user came to any harm.
(c) The appellant subsequently showed a lack of openness about the matter with her current employer, university and the GSCC.
(d) The committee found that the appellant's action in tippexing out the reference to her instant dismissal in her application form for the GSCC was dishonest.
(e) The committee had not heard anything from the appellant to show that she had any insight, understanding or had reflected upon her actions.''
In her appeal to the Tribunal the appellant stated that she was a person of good character and good conduct for the purpose of registration. Further that there was ample evidence to show that the incident of the fire upon which the decision was made was not in any way her fault She acknowledged that the tippexing out of information in her application form to the GSCC was a mistake and a misjudgement on her part, but that she had relied on advice from her sister. The appellant acknowledged a failure to disclose the outcome of her disciplinary hearing to her employer and her university immediately, but stated that she had explained fully to them about their being disciplinary proceedings.
The GSCC in their response to the appeal submitted that the Registration Committee having not been satisfied as to the appellant's good character and conduct was obliged to refuse to register her. The burden of proof lay with the appellant to show that she met the statutory test for registration.
Mr D Patel in his witness statement dated 18th September 2007 stated that up until the 5th September 2007 he and a business partner owned a company called Eldra Caru Limited which in turn owned B H, a care home specialising in care for the elderly and the infirm. In August 2005 Ms LS had been the registered manager of the home. The appellant had been a night care assistant.
12 On the evening of the 2nd August through to the morning of the 3rd August 2005, two staff members namely CT and WM were on night duty. A fire had occurred at the home in the early hours of the 3rd August 2005 with a subsequent investigation revealing that a service user residing on the first floor of the home had accidentally placed some tissues on a freestanding bedside lamp in her room. The lamp had heated the tissues causing smoke to fill the service user's room, which had then triggered the smoke detector causing the fire alarm to go off.
The Tribunal were shown a copy of a fire report dated 3rd August 2005 completed by the local fire brigade. The report indicated that the fire had been discovered by an automatic system and the brigade had been called by an individual, at 2.18am and had arrived at the scene at 2.27am and had the fire under control by 2.55am. The report also indicated that the estimated interval from ignition to discovery was under 5 minutes and that from discovery to first call was also under 5 minutes.
A further report was prepared by the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service following a post incident inspection of the premises and sent to BH on the 4th August 2005. The report was signed by Mr Innocent the investigating officer. The report contained the following comment: -
``Staff training is ongoing according to available records. However, all staff must be fully aware of procedures to be adopted in the event of the fire alarm activating.
It was indicated by staff of the time of the above incident that only the ground floor had been searched. However there was obvious smoke evident on the first floor.
``On Duty'' staff must remain vigilant at all times.''
Mr Patel his witness statement stated that on the 16th August 2005 he convened a disciplinary hearing in relation to the incident at the home on the 3rd August and that the appellant had attended the meeting. Also in attendance were Ms L S and Mr Patel's business partner Mr Dinesh Patel. The Tribunal were shown unsigned minutes of the meeting on the 16th August 2005. Mr Patel in his...
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