AN incompetent Taunton social worker has been suspended for a year after putting a number of clients at risk.

A conduct and competence hearing at a Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, which Debra Julie Howe failed to attend, heard a catalogue of complaints about the quality of her work.

The panel concluded that Ms Howe had "demonstrated a lack of skills, knowledge and judgement over a period of time" and that she "struggled to comply with the expectations" placed on her by Somerset County Council and her line manager.

The hearing was also told that Ms Howe, who has said she no longer wishes to be a social worker, had "an extensive sickness record, including one two-month period, which may have been partly due to work-related stress.

Five clients complained about her and among the pane;l's findings were that she:

*failed to complete or record an adequate funding application for service user A and did not complete or record an adequate assessment of that client; did not obtain user A's consent regarding a potential transfer to another nursing home;

*failed to complete an adequate assessment about concerns that service user B's safety in his home; did not seek professional advice regarding his own assessment regarding risk;

*failed to record an adequate reports into service user C's care at home and why their care had failed;

*did not complete a best interest assessment for service user D;

*left gaps in information she supplied in her assessment of client E;

*did not provide an assessment for service user F despite being instructed to do so.

The hearing was told Ms Dawe's line manager had concerns about her practice in her role, which she started in 2012.

A report of the hearing said: "The registrant's (Ms Howe's) actions have brought the reputation of the council and the social work profession into disrepute, damaging public confidence in the profession."

While it said she did undertake "some aspects of her role effectively", she did not take advantage of the support offered to assist her.

The report concluded: "The panel is of the view that 12 months is the appropriate length for the suspension order in order to mark the seriousness of the registrant's lack of competence.

"It will also give the registrant time to remediate the widespread concerns regarding her competency."