A SOCIAL worker who failed to act when a teaching assistant expressed sexual and homicidal thoughts regarding his pupils has been suspended for 12 months by a watchdog.

Care co-ordinator Michelle Lord had been told that the school worker, who has not been named, talked about erotic thoughts involving female pupils as well as thoughts about killing a boy during a health assessment.

Lord made no efforts to refer him to a nurse who specialises in children’s safeguarding issues, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) was told.

She had been employed as a care co-ordinator social worker by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation and was part of the Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley Complex Care and Treatment Team, based in Accrington, at the time.

Her behaviour, and her conduct in dealing with nearly 20 other cases, saw her case brought before the HCPC’s fitness to practise panel, held in London.

The hearing was told that, with reference to a number of visits Lord had made to see the teaching assistant, she never discussed with him the risks his earlier disclosures may have presented. Later the teaching assistant said he was no longer having the thoughts, but the hearing ruled she should have acted on his comments. She had claimed during a trust investigation that the matters had simply not been raised with her directly.

Another case was said to have seen Lord fail to report the suicidal thoughts of a service user after she finished her shift on a Friday afternoon. The HCPC panel was told that by the time she was back four days later the same individual had taken an overdose.

Further reviews were undertaken of 18 more cases involving Lord and gaps were found, in relation to either health assessment or care plans, for all of them.

Panel chairman Gillian Fleming said Lord was a ‘trained and reasonably experienced social worker’ but the shortcomings identified were ‘serious omissions’.

She said: “Overall the deficiencies established created significant potential for harm not only to the service users concerned, but also to others.”

Lord, who did not attend the hearing, was suspended for 12 months by the council.