Croydon carer who ‘kicked patient while no one was looking and spat on another’ applied for care jobs despite DBS ban

By: Damola Russell-London, UK

Croydon carer who ‘kicked patient while no one was looking and spat on another’ applied for care jobs despite DBS ban.  A Croydon carer who left the profession in disgrace after abusing mentally ill patients tried to reapply for jobs despite a life-long ban. Harriet Wamala was sacked after 17 years with the NHS after allegations of misconduct were made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a Home Office-run department responsible for vetting people who work with vulnerable adults and children.
The 66-year-old, who emigrated from Kenya to work in the UK care sector, had never been accused of abusing patients during her long career but faced a series of accusations in a letter from the DBS in September 2020. Officials told her they were considering a ban, but offered her the chance to respond to allegations, which included kicking, spitting, and an assault.
Prosecutor Kathryn Drummond said, of an incident on June 6, 2016, Wamala ‘kicked a service user after looking around to see if anyone was watching’; of an incident on October 25 2017, Wamala ‘spat at a service user after they spat in her face’; and of an incident on June 15 2018, Wamala ’caused bruising and skin tears to the arms of a service user after gripping her too firmly’.

After Wamala failed to deny the incidents or provide any response, foregoing her opportunity to give evidence, the incidents were found proven on the balance of probabilities. DBS officials concluded there had been ‘physical and emotional harm’ and that Wamala ‘thought it was acceptable to assault users over difficult behaviour’, added Ms Drummond.
In the absence of denials, Wamala – described as ‘callous’ and ‘lacking empathy’ by the DBS – outlined her long history of work for the NHS. This was not enough to save her from a ban, and she lost her ability to work with vulnerable adults and children in a ruling handed down by the service in September 2020.
Despite her ban, Wamala tried to regain a role in the care sector just one year later, handing in her CV to three different companies. The applications were sent to HG Care, Carestaff Solutions, and Presto Sanctum Healthcare between March to December 2021. In all cases, the applications were rejected after her ban was flagged on the DBS system.
Wamala was tearful in her police interview and claimed ‘she could not recall’ being put on the barred list one year earlier. Wamala also told police she did not think adults with mental health issues were vulnerable adults, Ms Drummond told the court. Wamala maintained her position in a probation interview, telling the officer she did not think she had done anything wrong
Appearing unrepresented at Croydon Crown Court on Tuesday (May 28), Wamala opted to forgo a defence barrister due to the financial costs. The court heard she had amassed savings and was living mortgage-free at her home on Windmill Grove in Croydon, making her ineligible for legal aid.
‘Lightly convicted’ with two drink-driving offences in 2020 and 2022, Wamala was shown mercy by Recorder Samantha Presland as she agreed with the probation service recommendation to spare her a jail sentence. The judge also concluded it was inappropriate to make the elderly pensioner do any unpaid work, and reduced the number of rehabilitation activity requirement days she will do.
Crediting her for her early guilty plea, Recorder Presland issued Wamala a 12-month community order which will require her to see a probation officer 20 times. Compared to more serious cases, where offenders use false identities to gain employment, Wamala’s offences were at the lower end. “It seems there was just a misunderstanding on your part in applying for jobs,” added the judge.
As the hearing ended, Wamala was reassured she would still be able to care for her grandchildren and other familial relations. But the judge warned her that any failure to attend probation could result in her being hauled back to the court for a fine. Recorder Presland also reminded Wamala she can appeal the findings of the DBS, should she want to make a legal return to the care sector


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