Durham social worker suspended for safeguarding failures

Social worker Ruth Hughes has been suspended for failing to follow safeguarding procedures and maintain accurate records.

A panel of the Health and Care Professions Council conduct committee also found that Hughes failed to act in a timely manner and communicate effectively with her colleagues whilst working in the Learning Disabilities Team of Durham County Council.

Panel members also heard that Ms Hughes placed a service user at risk by failing to carry out a capacity test to determine whether she could make informed choices.

This was after there had been three referrals after concerns about her home conditions and care. She also placed a service user at risk by failing to ensure a visit was carried out promptly after an allegation of physical abuse in residential care.

The panel further heard that Ms Hughes, as team manager, failed to communicate with her staff effectively. She was described as confrontational and unapproachable, often keeping her office door closed with a ‘do not disturb’ sign displayed.

Panel chairman Helen Carter commented: “The panel considered the registrant’s actions and concluded that her actions amounted to misconduct, falling well below a reasonable professional standard for a social worker with her level of experience.

“The registrant has not played any active part in these proceedings and hence has not demonstrated any insight into [her] failures. She has not sought to provide any evidence of mitigating circumstances. The Panel can hence only address the questions of current impairment on the basis of the evidence advanced in these proceedings.”

The panel decided the most appropriate action was to suspend Ms Hughes from the HCPC register for a period of twelve months with an interim suspension order in place to cover the appeal period.

Ms Hughes was not present or represented at the hearing.