Former Wakefield Council social worker struck off

A former social worker who accessed confidential records belonging to vulnerable children while she was employed by Wakefield Council has been struck off.

Mrs Wheldrick was employed by the council between 2010 and 2016.
Mrs Wheldrick was employed by the council between 2010 and 2016.

Kelly Anne Wheldrick breached data protection laws when she looked at social care files belonging to 11 individuals on multiple occasions between August 2014 and January 2016.

Most of the records related to cases which Mrs Wheldrick had had responsibility for during a four-year stint working within the council's child protection team.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

However, by the time of the breaches she had moved on to a different unit working with people with learning disabilities and the elderly, and had no right to access the records.

Mrs Wheldrick admitted accessing the files after the offences came to light, saying she wanted to see how the children "were getting on".

However, she could offer no explanation as to why she'd looked at two of the files, a tribunal ruling on the matter was told.

Mrs Wheldrick resigned from her position at the local authority in July 2016 after an internal investigation and was suspended from practising as a social worker anywhere in the UK a year later.

She has now been stopped from practising indefinitely.

In her resignation statement she accepted wrongdoing and blamed "stress and anxiety" for her actions, saying: "I am truly sorry for these acts and errors of judgment.

"I have had the time to further reflect on my actions through counselling sessions.

"The sessions have enabled me to reach a conclusion that regardless of the outcome of a disciplinary hearing I need to take some time away from my role as a social worker."

However, the tribunal was told that Mrs Wheldrick had not engaged with the Health and Care Professions Council's disciplinary process after she'd left her post. She did not attend her misconduct hearing in London last month.

A tribunal panel concluded that although there was no indication whether or not Mrs Wheldrick intended to return to the profession, there was an "ongoing risk" of her repeating her misconduct if she did.

In their counclusions, the panel found that Mrs Wheldrick, "Has yet to evidence her full understanding of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of records, regardless of whether the information is shared.

It added: "In particular she has yet to evidence her understanding of the impact, or potential impact, of her breaches on the individuals whose confidentiality she compromised and on public confidence in the profession."