Five Sunderland social workers sacked over conduct

Sunderland Civic Centre
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SIX social workers from Sunderland City Council have been suspended from their jobs during the past three years, the Echo can reveal.

Of those, five went on to be sacked by the authority over concerns about their conduct.

The figures come after the Echo submitted a Freedom of Information request revealing 118 complaints were made to the council during a 12 month period regarding the care provided by social workers to children.

There has been a number of high-profile cases involving the conduct of social workers from the authority during recent months.

Last November, Klaudeta Risto was brought before the Health and Care Professions Council after is was revealed she failed to seek help when a seven-year-old boy complained about his father beating him with a battery.

The boy, who had no visible marks on him, had asked Mrs Risto not to tell his parents following the incident in February 2012, the hearing was told. The boy was already subject to a child protection plan – a care plan designed to protect vulnerable children.

The panel was told that, rather than employing child protection measures to ensure the boy was kept safe, Mrs Risto decided maintaining the family unit was more important and did not report the incident, which later came to light when a fellow social worker found out.

Ms Risto, who has worked for the council since October 2010, was handed a conditions of practice order for two years. Last year social worker Norma Rose Lee was suspended from the Health and Care Professions Council Register for failing to properly assess and follow safeguarding procedures for two children.

A panel for the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee heard how, in the first case, Ms Lee failed to follow child protection procedures after receiving a telephone referral from Child A’s school. Instead of taking action herself, she told the school to submit a written referral.

In the second case, the panel was told Ms Lee failed to carry out an assessment after a referral from a consultant psychiatrist.

The child had been designated a Child in Need under the Children Act 1989. Last September, the panel suspended Ms Lee from the Register for a period of 12 months. Councillor Pat Smith, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “People should always contact the council if they have a concern, issue or a complaint about child or adult services.

“We always encourage people to come forward with their concerns so that their issues can then be addressed We also view comments and complaints as information that can help us improve how we work, and so they are particularly valuable to us.”