Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Social worker lied about deaths

A social worker falsely claimed her father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and ex-husband had all died
A social worker falsely claimed her father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and ex-husband had all died

A social worker has been struck off for fraudulently claiming paid compassionate leave - after falsely reporting that six relatives had died.

Rachael Miles falsely said that her father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and ex-husband had all died while working at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) said.

On or around February 12, 2010, two weeks after starting work, Ms Miles said she had received a phone call telling her that her father had been involved in a car accident, and she went home, an HCPC panel said. A few days later, she reported her father had died, and a week's compassionate leave was authorised.

She went on to report that her mother had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and received one day of compassionate leave, and that her mother had attempted to harm herself while in hospital, receiving two days of compassionate leave, then that her mother had died during surgery, and was given 10 days' compassionate leave.

On February 25 2011 she reported that her brother had died and received five days of bereavement leave. On May 20 2011 she claimed she had received a call at work telling her that her ex-husband had hanged himself. She also claimed that she was asked to identify the body. On November 15 2011, she reported that her uncle in Portsmouth had died, and a week later that her aunt had also died. She was given six days' time off in lieu as a result of these two bereavements.

An investigation was carried out the following summer. It was found that absences relevant to the inquiry totalled 66 days.

A disciplinary hearing was convened on August 7 2012. The decision was made Ms Miles should be redeployed into a suitable alternative position but she submitted a letter of resignation and it was confirmed that her employment with the council should end on August 18.

The panel heard that Ms Miles, who was not present or represented at the hearing, claims to have no recollection of telling her employer about the six bereavements.

She wrote on a form: "As I have no recollection of the events mentioned I have to rely on the witnesses' integrity and honesty in reporting these incidents to the HCPC hearing."

The panel found she had provided "false, inaccurate and misleading information" regarding the reasons for a number of absences, specifically the reported bereavements, "when this was not true". It found, too, that Ms Miles fraudulently claimed and retained payment for compassionate leave. Her actions were dishonest, it said, and amounted to misconduct.

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