Ms Annia Katarina Elsesser

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW76490

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 01/06/2018 End: 11:30 01/06/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

The following allegation was considered by a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee at a Substantive Hearing on 14-16 June 2016.


In the course of your employment as a Social Worker for the London Borough of Islington:

1. On or around 25 October 2012, you gave unauthorised access to confidential information to a third party in that you:

a. Allowed the third party to view the information of a service user on the local authority's computer system without seeking the appropriate consents; and/or

b. Allowed the third party to stay unsupervised in the office.


2. [Not Proved]

a. [Not Proved]

b. [Not Proved]


3. On or around 12 October 2012 you made the following inappropriate comments to an employee at Bremerton Estate Office:

a. [Not Proved]

b. ‘No wonder England is at the bottom of the heap, as no one wants to work’ or words to that effect and

c. [Not Proved]


4. You made inappropriate entries on service users’ case files in that:

a. On 5 August 2012, you wrote the words set out in Schedule A, or words to that effect; and

b. On 8 August 2012, you wrote the words set out in Schedule B, or words to that effect.


5. On or around 16 October 2012, you received a safeguarding alert regarding service user E and you did not escalate this alert with your manager within the required timescales.

6. The matters described in Paragraphs 1 to 5 constitute misconduct and/or lack of competence.

7. By reason of that misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practice is impaired.

Schedule A

‘A great deal of time wated this morning trying to complete work on a deceased service user. I completed the risk assessment but there is another risk assessment on screen which has been aborted and which needs to be removed from IAS, IN ORDER FOR ME TO PROCEED TO THE NEXT STAGE, that is the Case Conference. I have alerted HASS SUPPORT, Ann.’

Schedule B

‘Dear, I despair what a terrible system. I tried this morning with person C, to start a safeguarding alert but not possible. Yes if there is a problem with draft support plan, cannot proceed with anything else. I want the support plan to be closed, whatever person D is doing, and I need to do my work. Why is the support plan in draft form when this was approved months ago? If you reassign it will have to be finalised once again by manager. I cannot waste more time. I need to amend support plan to include shopping Thanks’


The Panel at the substantive hearing found the following:


Facts proved: 1(a), 1(b), 3(b), 4(a), 4(b), 5.

Facts not proved: 2(a), 2(b), 3(a), 3(c).

Grounds: Misconduct


The panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise to be impaired and a Conditions of Practice Order for a period of 12 months was imposed as a sanction. This decision was reviewed on 13 June 2017 and that panel imposed a Suspension Order for a further period of 12 months.

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Proof of Service

1. The Panel found that there had been good service of the Notice of Hearing by a letter sent to the Registrant’s registered address informing her of the date, time and venue of today’s hearing.

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant

2. Ms Senior made an application for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant with the Panel exercising its discretion. She referred the Panel to a letter sent to the Registrant dated 2 May 2018 giving notice of the hearing today. Ms Senior informed the Panel that while no email was sent to the Registrant in this case as no email address has been provided by the Registrant, a follow up letter was posted to her on 21 May 2018. She submitted that this evidenced reasonable efforts to contact the Registrant in excess of the statutory requirements. In this correspondence the Registrant was reminded of today’s hearing and asked whether she intended to attend the hearing, or submit information. The Registrant has not responded to correspondence in relation to this review.

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor that the discretion to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one to be exercised with the utmost care and caution, and it should consider a number of criteria in order to effect a just outcome. The HCPTS Practice Note ‘Proceeding in Absence’ was commended to them, as were the principles outlined in the cases of R v Jones (Anthony) [2003] 1 AC 1; [2002] UKHL 5 and GMC v Adeogba; GMC v Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

4. Having found good service, the Panel considered the criteria outlined in the case of Jones and applied them to the facts of this case. The Panel has decided that this hearing should proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Its reasons were as follows:

a. The Registrant has not provided an explanation for her absence, nor asked for an adjournment.

b. There is no evidence that the Registrant has engaged with the process either at the substantive hearing in July 2016, or the review hearing of the order imposed in 2017. This suggests that her non-engagement and non-attendance is a voluntary absence and that the Registrant has chosen to waive her right to attend;

c. The Registrant has not chosen to be represented nor to make written submissions. Her non-engagement suggests that adjourning today would serve no useful purpose in terms of possible future engagement and is unlikely to secure her attendance at a future hearing;

d. The public interest would be impacted if the case were adjourned today, as this is a mandatory hearing and the Suspension Order expires on 14th July 2018;

e. That while the Registrant would inevitably be disadvantaged by not being either present or represented at this hearing, this was outweighed by the public interest, in circumstances where the Registrant had been given the opportunity to engage repeatedly.

 

Background

5. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker who qualified in 1987. In 2012 she was employed by the London Borough of Islington in the Adult Social Care Service and was responsible for older adults and adults with physical disabilities.

6. At the substantive fitness to practice hearing, the panel found proved that:

a. in August 2012, the Registrant made inappropriate entries on two service users’ files;

b. in October 2012, the Registrant made inappropriate comments to an employee at Bremerton Estate Office;

c. on or around 16 October 2012, the Registrant received a safeguarding alert regarding Service User E and she did not escalate this alert to her manager within the required timescales;

d. on or around 25 October 2012 the Registrant gave unauthorised access to confidential information to a third party by allowing the third party to view a service user’s information on her employer’s computer system and allowed that third party to stay unsupervised in her office.

e. The previous panel determined that those facts (excluding 6c. above) amounted to misconduct and that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired. That Panel considered that the communication skills were remediable, and that the Registrant had reflected on and recognised the issues concerning confidential information and her communication skills, such that she had the potential to remediate. The panel determined that the appropriate, proportionate and sufficient sanction was a Conditions of Practice Order for 12 months with effect from 14 July 2016.

 

Decision

7. Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. She confirmed that there had been no engagement or communication from the Registrant since before the substantive hearing in 2016 to date. She submitted that the previous panels had provided the Registrant with the opportunity to engage with the process and demonstrate her insight and remediation of the failings found proved but that she had not taken advantage of these opportunities. The lack of evidence of any insight from the Registrant is indicative of a likelihood of repetition. Accordingly, Ms Senior submitted that the Registrant remains impaired.

8. In terms of sanction, Ms Senior submitted that a Striking-Off Order is now the most appropriate sanction. A further period of suspension would not benefit either the public or the Registrant, as matters are unlikely to progress given the Registrant’s non-engagement. Ms Senior invited the Panel, in the alternative, to suspend the Registrant for a further 12 months, if it was not with her on imposing a Striking-Off Order.

9. The task of the Panel today is not to go behind the decision of the previous panels but to determine whether or not the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired. The Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC. There is no evidence that any changes have taken place since the substantive hearing in 2016. In particular, there is no evidence of remediation, or that the Registrant has developed insight.

10. The previous reviewing panel provided guidance to the Registrant as to what might assist a future panel. The Registrant has not responded. Given that the substantive hearing was in June 2016, this has given the Registrant sufficient opportunity to take the necessary remedial action.

11. In these circumstances the Panel concluded that there remains a risk of repetition of the Registrant’s misconduct if she is allowed to practise without restriction. The Panel found that public confidence in the profession and the declaring of proper standards of conduct and performance demanded a finding of current impairment, given the lack of remediation and insight into the proven allegations.

12. The Panel was disappointed that there has been no engagement with this process by the Registrant because the finding at the substantive hearing was that the failings found proven were remediable. Without evidence that circumstances have altered, and that the Registrant has insight into her misconduct and wishes to remedy it, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remains impaired.

13. The Panel went on to consider what sanction, if any was required. The Panel considered that to impose no further action, or to impose a Caution Order would not be sufficient to address the wider public interest considerations, given that there remains a risk of repetition. A Conditions of Practice Order would not be appropriate or workable as the Registrant is not engaging with the HCPC and the Panel cannot be confident that she would comply with conditions.

14. The Panel considered an extension of the current Suspension Order. Although a Suspension Order would provide protection for the public, the Panel considered that it was not the appropriate sanction in circumstances where the Registrant has not engaged with the HCPC during the entirety of the Suspension Order. There is no explanation from the Registrant as to her failure to engage.

15. The Panel considered that paragraph 48 of the HCPC Indicative Sanction Policy on Striking-Off Orders was applicable. In particular, there has been no insight demonstrated by the Registrant to the Panel. The Registrant’s failure to address her misconduct despite the guidance given by previous panels indicated that she is unable or unwilling to resolve matters, and therefore that a lower sanction is not appropriate

16. It was with some reluctance that the Panel considered the option of a Striking-Off Order. It could not ignore the finding of the 2016 panel that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired coupled with the Registrant’s failure to engage. A further Suspension Order is not in the public interest. It would serve no useful purpose as there appears no realistic prospect of future engagement by the Registrant in the regulatory process given her past pattern of behaviour.  It would also incur unnecessary additional costs.

17. In its deliberations the Panel took into account the Registrant’s interests, but decided they were outweighed by the public interest, in light of the Registrant’s continued non-engagement.

18. Accordingly, the Panel decided that the appropriate and proportionate sanction is a Striking-Off Order.

Order

The Registrar is directed to strike the name of Ms Annia Katarina Elsesser from the Register on the date this order comes into effect

Notes

The Order imposed today will apply from 14 July 2018.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Ms Annia Katarina Elsesser

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
01/06/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Struck off
13/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Suspended
14/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice