Social worker accused of misconduct avoids sanctions

A former children’s social worker who failed to make enough visits to vulnerable children has avoided being struck off following a conduct hearing.

Andrew Forbes McLauchlan, 58, faced 13 allegations dating back to 2002 while he was working in the children’s services department for East Sussex County Council.

The General Social Care Council (GSCC) conduct committee found the facts proved in 14 of 27 allegation sub-headings.

These included not communicating details of a case with professionals and performing inadequate assessments of a child and a family.

McLauchlan also admitted twice spending over three hours on the internet at his office computer, accessing websites that were not related to work.

The committee judged that only one part of the allegation – referring to three children whose cases were meant to go before an adoption panel – amounted to misconduct.

The committee said that McLauchlan had been dishonest by telling his manager that the adoption panel was full, when in reality he had simply not booked the cases in.

Despite being found to have committed misconduct, the committee took the unusual step of opting not to take any sanction, claiming the public were “never at risk” as a result of McLauchlan’s actions and that “no service user was harmed”.

A report on the hearing stated that taking no action in response to misconduct should only occur in “exceptional circumstances” but that McLauchlan’s case met that threshold.

Rosie Varley, chair of the GSCC, said the conduct committee makes “independent decisions”.

“It is quite right that such cases are assessed and we respect the decision of the committee,” she added.

“We need to ensure that all registered social workers are adhering to the code and guidelines.”

The GSCC itself came in for criticism from the conduct committee for a three-year delay in bringing McLauchlan’s case to the hearing stage.

The remarks, made in the decision notice, come just weeks after Mike Wardle, the chief executive of the GSCC, was suspended over a backlog of misconduct cases.