Flintshire Social worker suspended from register for sending inappropriate WhatsApp messages
A Social worker has had his registration suspended after sending inappropriate WhatsApp messages to a vulnerable woman.
Graham James Murphy sent a number of unsuitable messages complimenting the single parent, identified only as ‘service user A’, on her appearance while carrying out agency work for Flintshire Council.
A Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS) hearing, which Mr Murphy failed to attend, was told that he had the power to recommend whether her children remained subject to a child protection plan and the messages amounted to an abuse of trust.
Concerns about Mr Murphy’s relationship with the woman were raised by the Action for Children charity and it was also also found that he failed to attend several key meetings and carry out assessments, which could have placed children and families at risk.
One of the messages, which was sent between June and September 2016, read: “I should be able to tell you that you look (word redacted) on your profile picture. People wouldn’t get that I’m being nice and just think it’s inappropriate.”
Meanwhile, he sent another which said: “Without being inappropriate it’s a very nice pic of you.”
In a written decision, the HCPTS said he had ‘breached professional boundaries’.
They said: “The panel was satisfied that the evidence supported the words allegedly used in the messages.
“It heard evidence from RH (Flintshire Council team manager) that the messages had been transcribed by a senior practitioner who was present along with RH when she viewed the service user’s telephone.
“The panel determined that the messages breached professional boundaries and were inappropriate, particularly given the power imbalance between the registrant and the vulnerable service user.”
Nine out of 10 allegations against Mr Murphy were found proven in his absence, including that he missed a number of core group meetings which he was responsible for scheduling, attending and writing up minutes from.
It was also heard that his failure to record assessments would have impacted on the council’s ability to assess and review risks to children.
The panel said: “The registrant’s repeated and unexplained failure to attend core group meetings, and to complete and record assessments were serious. The evidence was that the registrant completed only 10 per cent of his work.
“These were important meetings, crucial to the development and review of care plans and risk and impacted on the welfare of service users and their families.”
Mr Murphy showed some signs of remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions following his dismissal by the council.
In an e-mail, he said: “I am wholly embarrassed and disheartened that I have let myself and others around down by my action or lack of action….I could sit and try to look for reasons to blame others for my poor performance, lack of support, isolation from the team, excessive workload.
“However, I am responsible for my actions no matter how I feel about other issues”
But the panel said the e-mail only demonstrated a limited amount of insight and suspended him from the register for a total of 12 months.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.
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