Mr Justice Fordham has approved the extension, by 7 months, of an Interim Suspension Order in case involving a range of allegations.
In the case of Social Work England v Ncube  EWHC 3007 (Admin) (25 November 2022), Mr Justice Fordham noted that SWE required more time to gather evidence, most of which were witness statements.
According to the judgement, the allegations stem from a referral in January 2021 (relating to events in 2020) including, failing to maintain boundaries with a service user; and failing to demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skill or judgment in communication, following management direction, engagement of service users, professional networks and progression of cases, identification of risk and producing assessments, active preparation for statutory meetings and undertaking of home visits, and being contactable during the lockdown period.
The case against the Respondent is that by reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence or capability, her fitness to practise is impaired.
Ncube is subject of an interim suspension that was due to expire on 17 December 2022. SWE applied for an extension of this Order.
Mr Justice Fordham, in granting the application, said:
“I accept that there is ongoing prejudice to the Respondent. But this is outweighed by the public protection and public confidence imperatives, convincingly identified by the review panel most recently on 5 October 2022. I agree with that panel that even a high level of supervision would not be sufficient to protect the public, while the issues in the case await a substantive hearing. I have been given in this case a detailed description of the steps that have been undertaken and the steps that are needed.
“I am satisfied that the case has been being appropriately progressed. I am also satisfied that the timeframe of the extension is necessary and proportionate in the present case. I will therefore grant the application. There will be no order as to costs.”