Mr Laurence Andrew D'annunzio

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW24601

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 05/03/2018 End: 17:00 09/03/2018

Location: Mercure Haydock Hotel Penny Lane, Haydock, Merseyside WA11 9SG United Kingdom,

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Wigan

Council, you:

1. Between approximately April to August 2013, engaged in a sexual relationship with Service User A.

2. Contacted Service User A on or around 13 August 2015, without a professional reason to do so.

3. Met with Service User A on or around 14 August 2015 without a professional reason to do so.

4. Accessed Service User A’s file without a professional reason to do so on the following dates:

a) 26 July 2015

b) 30 July 2015

c) 5 August 2015

d) 17 August 2015

5. Travelled within close proximity of Service User A’s home address without a professional reason to do so:

a) on around 3 September 2016

b) on 4 September 2016

6. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 were sexually motivated.

7. The matters as described in paragraphs 1 - 6 constitute misconduct.

8. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Preliminary Matters


Application to Amend the Allegation as detailed above

1. The Panel heard an application by Mr Orpin-Massey, on behalf of the HCPC, to amend the Allegation as particularised above. The Registrant had been notified of the application and the details thereof on 21 April 2017. The Registrant did not object to the application. The Panel received and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It was satisfied that the amendments were necessary and desirable as they provided greater clarity, did not substantively change the nature of the Allegation, and were not prejudicial to the Registrant.

Background


2. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. From 2009 to 2014 he was employed as a Social Worker in the Social Care Department at Wigan Council (“the Council”).  From 2014 to 2015 he was employed as a Senior Social Worker within the Young People’s Team at the Council. He was responsible for young people aged from 14 years old. At that time he also had management responsibility for up to 10 members of staff which included a combination of qualified and unqualified social workers and administrative staff. In 2015 the Registrant became Team Manager in his Department, working alongside two other Team Managers.


3. During his employment at the Council, the Registrant was the Social Worker for Child A, the daughter of Service User A.


4. In December 2014, it came to the attention of the Council that the Registrant and Service User A may have been involved in a sexual relationship. Service User A denied the sexual relationship when interviewed. Following initial interviews by two managers within the Council, no further action was taken by the Council in this respect as it considered that there was no evidence upon which to base an investigation. The Registrant was not formally informed of this matter.


5. On 13 July 2015, a Guardian ad Litem, KJ, met with Service User A to discuss care proceedings for her other two children, Child B and Child C. A Guardian ad Litem is an experienced Social Worker who is appointed by a Family Court to oversee and advise on the welfare of children during care proceedings. During this meeting Service User A informed KJ that, from April 2013 to August 2013, she had been in a sexual relationship with the Registrant.


6. An internal investigation was commenced in August 2015 which revealed other concerns regarding the Registrant’s conduct in relation to Service User A.


7. The Registrant was suspended from his position at the Council on 3 September 2015.


8. The matters, which now form the basis of the amended Allegation, were reported to the HCPC following the conclusion of the internal disciplinary processes.

Decision on Facts


9. The Panel carefully considered all of the evidence in the case. It noted the submissions of Mr Orpin-Massey and Mr Short. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. On behalf of the HCPC, the Panel heard oral evidence from Service User A, KJ and CM. It also considered a written witness statement from a Legal Assistant which was uncontentious, the purpose of which was to exhibit relevant documentation. The Registrant did not give evidence; the Panel drew no adverse inference from this fact.

10. The Panel received two bundles of documentation from the HCPC, comprising the witness statements of those who gave evidence and 205 pages of exhibits. The Registrant submitted a reflective statement at the outset of the hearing and during the hearing he exhibited 9 photographs and a map, all of which were relevant to matters under consideration.

11. The Panel disregarded any reference to incidents which do not form part of the Allegation and reminded itself that the burden of proving the facts is on the HCPC alone and that the standard of proof is the ordinary civil standard, namely the balance of probabilities.


12. The Panel noted the case of Enemuwe v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2015] EWHC 2081 and disregarded the findings of the internal investigation conducted by the Council. Furthermore, the Panel ensured that it was not influenced in its deliberations by its knowledge of those internal processes.


Credibility of the Witnesses and Assessment of the Evidence


13. The Panel first made an assessment of the credibility of all the witnesses that appeared before it, and in particular, of Service User A and the Registrant, who were the only people able to give direct evidence of what occurred between them.


Service User A


14. The Panel noted that, when Service User A gave evidence in chief, she was calm, unflustered and her testimony was forceful and direct. However, when she was subject to cross examination, she became flustered, defensive and displayed animosity towards the Registrant.  She blamed him, other Social Workers and the Social Services in general for the fact that her children had been removed from her care. The Panel considered that there was a lack of detail and noted a number of inconsistencies in her evidence. Furthermore, she was entirely unwilling to accept that she could be mistaken in respect of any part of her evidence. This intractability extended to all parts of her evidence, even when the issues were inconsequential and she was demonstrably mistaken. For example she categorically denied that she: engaged in a parenting assessment; reported to KJ that the Registrant had a son (rather than a daughter); attended the Town Hall on 2 separate occasions for interviews with CM.  There was independent evidence in respect of each of these issues that she had, in fact, done so.


15. In respect of the crucial and more important aspects of her evidence, the Panel noted that she had made conflicting assertions on different occasions as to whether there had been a sexual relationship between her and the Registrant. Notably, she had denied that there had been a sexual relationship when interviewed by representatives of the Council in December 2014. The complaint which forms the basis of the substantive Allegation was made in 2015, on the day when she received the news that KJ would not support her application for her children to be returned to her care. There was also reliable evidence from KJ that Service User A had provided dishonest evidence, on oath, during care proceedings in respect of her children.  There was a lack of corroborative evidence in general and specifically in respect of the existence of a sexual relationship with the Registrant.


16. In all of these circumstances, the Panel considered the testimony of Service User A to be generally unreliable and it exercised caution where there was an absence of corroborative evidence. Notwithstanding this, the Panel did find parts of Service User A’s evidence credible.  It was reluctant to conclude that she was deliberately misleading the Panel, rather it considered it more likely that she had come to believe the assertions she made.


KJ


17. KJ was the Guardian ad Litem, to whom Service User A reported her relationship with the Registrant on 13 July 2015. He was an independent and very experienced Social Worker who placed a high value on accurate record-keeping. He was fair and considered in the way he gave his evidence and the Panel found him to be a reliable and credible witness.  Where his evidence contradicted that of Service User A, the Panel relied upon his evidence. In particular, the Panel accepted his example of an occasion when he personally knew Service User A to have been dishonest whilst giving sworn evidence to a Family Proceedings Court.


CM


18. CM undertook the internal investigation for the Council. His evidence was largely uncontentious. Where he did express a personal opinion or assumption, the Panel disregarded it. He did not know the Registrant prior to undertaking the investigation and had no direct involvement in the matters upon which the factual particulars of this case were based. He exhibited documents and records which were collated and produced during the internal investigation. The Panel found him to be a credible witness who was broadly helpful.  However, it considered that there were opportunities missed during the internal investigation to obtain independent evidence which may have corroborated the version of events of either Service User A or the Registrant, for example, it would have been helpful to have had detailed analysis of the access to records reflected in particular 4.

Hearsay

19. The Panel exercised caution in considering hearsay evidence. It attached weight to the hearsay evidence, only to the extent that it was appropriate, where this evidence was corroborated or consistent with other evidence received.


The Registrant

20. The Panel did not hear from the Registrant. Whilst the Panel drew no adverse inference from his failure to give sworn evidence, it was mindful that the veracity of his account of events could not be tested.  In order to assess the Registrant’s credibility therefore, the Panel considered the contents of his reflective statement, the photographs and map exhibited, and the accounts of his actions given during the Council’s internal investigation. It was also mindful that he was a man of previous good character.

21. The Panel noted that, during his internal investigation interview, the Registrant immediately denied that he had contacted Service User A since he ceased being the allocated Social Worker for Child A. This was untrue and the Registrant corrected this misleading information later the same day.  He explained that he “misled” CM as a result of panic and anxiety, although there was no independent corroborative evidence that his health had affected his behaviour. He accepted with hindsight that this reaction had been wrong and inconsistent with his professional obligations. The Registrant was consistent in his assertion that there had been no sexual relationship with Service User A.

22. Nevertheless, the Panel noted that there were other inconsistencies in the explanations given during the internal investigation and the reflective piece as to the reasons why he had accessed the records of Service User A and her children.  Furthermore, his conduct in meeting Service User A in August 2015 and in attending locations near her home in September 2015 (after he had become aware a complaint had been made by her) undermined his credibility.

23. In all of these circumstances, the Panel considered the account of events given by the Registrant to be generally unreliable and it approached his evidence with a similar degree of caution to that which it employed in respect of the evidence of Service User A, where there was an absence of corroborative evidence.

Findings in Relation to the Factual Particulars of the Allegation


During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Wigan Council, you:


24. It was not in dispute that the Registrant was employed as a Social Worker at the Council during the relevant period. This was corroborated by the documents exhibited.

1. Between approximately April to August 2013, engaged in a sexual relationship with Service User A.


25. Service User A gave evidence that, in approximately June 2013, she had informed the Registrant that she had feelings for him.  Shortly after this they embarked upon a consensual sexual relationship. The Registrant entirely denied that his relationship with Service User A had ever been of a sexual nature. There was a lack of independent corroborative evidence in respect of both accounts given.  Furthermore, although it was not conclusive, Service User A gave an inaccurate description of physical features of the Registrant. In these circumstances, and in light of the Panel’s comments above, it could not be satisfied to the requisite standard that the Registrant had engaged in a sexual relationship with Service User A.  Accordingly, particular 1 was found not proved.


2. Contacted Service User A on or around 13 August 2015 without a professional reason to do so.

3. Met with Service User A on or around 14 August 2015 without a professional reason to do so.


26. The Registrant admitted these particulars at the outset of the proceedings. His admissions were corroborated by Service User A and confirmed in the Registrant’s reflective piece. He stated that he made contact with Service User A, on 13 August 2015, after having been informed by his line manager that he was being investigated in relation to a safeguarding issue.  He believed that the complaint had originated from the mother of Service User A as he had checked information contained in her Facebook account and he was already aware that the previous complaint made in 2014 had originated from a family member of Service User A (although he had never been formally notified of that matter).  He asserted that, on this occasion, he made contact with Service User A in order to arrange a meeting to try to ascertain from whom the current complaint had come. The Registrant and Service User A met in the Registrant’s vehicle on 14 August 2015.  They were both consistent in their assertions that they discussed the complaint potentially having come from Service User A’s mother. Accordingly, particulars 2 and 3 were found proved.


4 i) Accessed Child A’s case records without a professional reason to do so on the following dates:
a) 26 July 2015
b) 30 July 2015
c) 5 August 2015
4 ii) Accessed Child B’s case records without a professional reason to do so on 5 August 2015.
4 iii) Accessed Service User A’s case records without a professional reason to do so on 17 August 2015.


27. The Registrant admitted that he had accessed the relevant records on the dates stated, however, he asserted that he had a legitimate professional reason for doing so arising out of his supervisory responsibilities in his capacity as a Team Manager.  The Panel noted that, at the relevant time the Registrant was responsible for supervising Social Workers who had responsibility for Child A, Child B and Child C and they may have generated work which required actioning by him. CM confirmed, in his evidence, that this could have been a legitimate explanation as to why the Registrant had accessed the records and that, in the internal investigation, he had not obtained evidence as to the reason why the records had, in fact, been accessed.  The HCPC did not adduce evidence to demonstrate that there was not a professional reason for the Registrant having accessed the records.  Accordingly particulars 4i), 4ii) and 4iii) were found not proved.


5. Travelled within close proximity of Service User A’s home address without a professional reason to do so:


a) on or around 3 September 2015;

28. The Registrant admitted this particular at the outset of the proceedings and provided a context in order to explain his conduct. He submitted that, having been suspended from his job earlier in the day, he was very distressed and, whilst driving on a direct route home from work, he pulled up onto a quiet road with which he was familiar in order to conceal his distress from others. He stated that he had no intention of making contact with Service User A and it was mere coincidence that the road where he was seen was in close proximity to Service User A’s home and that of her Aunt. DB, a colleague saw the Registrant in this location and reported it to CM.  Her report corroborated the Registrant’s admission. However, the Panel did not accept the Registrant’s explanation for his presence in this location and considered that he had had no alternative but to admit this particular given that he had been seen in the vicinity by DB.


29. The Panel noted that the Registrant had been suspended at approximately 1pm, and whilst he had not been directly informed at that time that he must not have any contact with Service User A specifically, he had nevertheless been advised by his Line Manager that he must not ‘come to Wigan without permission and [that] he wasn’t to approach any clients past or present’. It was more than 3 hours later when he was seen in the vicinity of Service User A’s home in the Wigan area. After being told that the Registrant had been seen in the vicinity, Service User A phoned CM saying that she didn’t know what to do. The map exhibited by the Registrant indicated that, having stopped to compose himself in the location in which he was seen by DB, he then drove down the residential roads where both Service User A and her Aunt lived.  There were other locations and more direct routes available to the Registrant if he was too distressed to continue his journey. The Panel also noted that there was no need for him to drive down the road upon which Service User A and her Aunt resided, and no account was given for the lapse of more than 3 hours since he had left his office. In all of these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that the only plausible explanation for the Registrant’s behaviour is that he was in close proximity to Service User A’s home in order to try to make contact with her in connection with the investigation. Accordingly, particular 5 a) was found proved.


b) On 4 September 2015


30. Service User A gave evidence that whilst she had not seen the Registrant on 3rd September 2015 in the vicinity of her home, she had seen him on 4 September 2015.  She asserted that she was very distressed by this and had immediately phoned CM and asked for his advice.  CM confirmed that he had received a telephone call which was consistent in detail with the description given by Service User A. Both confirmed that Service User A had been extremely distressed to have seen the Registrant near her home against the background of the ongoing investigation.  In these circumstances, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was present in close proximity to Service User A’s home on 4 September 2015 as part of the course of conduct he had adopted in order to either encourage Service User A to deny the matters contained in the complaint against him or to explore why the complaint had been made.  Accordingly, particular 5 b) was found proved.


6. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 were sexually motivated.


31. The actions described in paragraph 1 were found not proved.  Accordingly, particular 6 was found not proved.

Decision on Grounds

32. The Panel next determined whether the facts found proved amounted to misconduct. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It bore in mind that there is no standard of proof to be applied at this stage; consideration as to whether the threshold for misconduct has been reached is a matter for its own judgment.

33. The Panel had specific regard to the helpful guidance provided in Roylance -v- GMC (No 2) [2000] 1 AC 311, Meadows v GMC [2007] QB 462 and Shaw v GOsC [2015] EWHC 2721. It noted that misconduct involves an act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances and that in order to amount to misconduct, the act or omission needs to be serious and one which would attract a degree of strong public disapproval.


34. The Panel first considered whether the proven facts amounted to breaches of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics 2012 (“the Standards”). It bore in mind that breaches of any of the Standards did not, in themselves, necessarily constitute misconduct. 


35. The Panel determined that the following Standards had been breached:


1 - You must act in the best interests of service users.
 3 - You must keep high standards of personal conduct.
 13 - You must…. make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession


36. In considering the ground of the Allegation, the Panel considered the individual particulars found proved and then the behaviour in the round.


37. The Panel considered that the Registrant pursued a course of conduct in which he repeatedly made contact or attempted to make contact with a vulnerable service user in relation to a complaint which he knew or suspected had been made in respect of his conduct towards her. This was grossly unprofessional conduct in which the Registrant put his own needs and anxieties above the needs of Service User A, thereby causing her to feel threatened and distressed. It was also clear from her evidence, that Service User A considered that the Registrant retained a degree of influence over the fate of her children, notwithstanding the fact that he was no longer her allocated Social Worker. This impression is entirely reasonable given his position of trust and authority.


38. The Registrant was an experienced Social Worker and was fully aware of the standards expected of him as a registered professional who was subject to an investigation by his employers. In these circumstances the Registrant had a clear responsibility to maintain professional boundaries by ceasing all contact with Service User A and he failed to do so. Furthermore, the conduct described at particulars 5 a) and 5 b) was in breach of direct instructions given by his line manager following his suspension from work. The failings amounted to a breach of trust and had the potential to damage the reputation of the department within which he worked and the reputation of the professional as a whole.


39. Accordingly, the Panel was satisfied that each of the particulars found proved was capable of amounting to misconduct. The failings identified represented a significant departure from the standards expected of a qualified Social Worker. The Registrant demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate, ill-judged and unprofessional conduct which fell far short of that which would be expected of a registered Social Worker in the circumstances. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant’s actions both individually and collectively would attract a degree of strong public disapproval. It therefore determined that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct.

Decision on Impairment        


40. The Panel next determined whether, by reason of his misconduct, the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is Impaired”, dated March 2017. It bore in mind that not every finding of misconduct will automatically result in a conclusion that fitness to practise is impaired and noted that impairment is ‘forward looking’. The Panel had specific regard to the guidance in the case of Meadows v GMC [2007]1 All ER 1, and Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) v NMC and Grant [2011] EWHC 927.


41. The starting point for the Panel was that the misconduct identified was serious. By failing to react appropriately when a serious allegation was made by a vulnerable service user, the Registrant’s conduct fell far short of that which would be expected of a registered Social Worker. The Registrant breached a fundamental tenet of his profession in putting his own needs above that of a Service User and thereby failing to act in her best interests. Furthermore, the Registrant has brought the reputation of his profession into disrepute and let down those who relied upon him.


42. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on a personal basis. It noted that the Registrant was culpable in causing emotional harm to Service User A in the way he conducted himself following her complaint against him. Her distress was demonstrated in the contact she made with CM. She apprehended the potential for verbal and physical abuse when she saw him in the vicinity of her home so soon after making such a serious allegation. Her perception was that he may have some influence over the fate of her children’s care. Her understanding and trust in the profession and in the Social Services will no doubt have been damaged. This also has implications for the trust that her wider family may have in the Social Services going forward.


43. The Panel considers that the failings identified are easily remediable.  The conduct expected of a Social Worker in the circumstances described are clearly defined in the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics by which all registered Social Workers are bound. The Panel noted that the Registrant has reflected upon his conduct and its inconsistency with his professional obligations. He was a man of previous good character, and whilst there was a repetition of the contact he made with Service User A, the Panel considers his conduct amounted to an isolated incident against the background of an unusually serious complaint having been made. It recognised that the Registrant had demonstrated a degree of insight and remediation within his reflective piece but did not consider that these areas were sufficiently developed to the extent that that he has fully remediated the failings.


44. Whilst the regulatory proceedings and internal processes have clearly been a salutary lesson for the Registrant, the Panel considered that the Registrant has not yet demonstrated that he fully understands the impact of his actions, particularly upon Service User A. He appears to retain a degree of anger for his situation and has not yet channelled that into a complete learning experience. The Panel noted that, at the time of his failings he was not open and honest with his line manager in informing her of his intention to contact Service User A. He did not seek appropriate advice from his supervisor and he provided no reflections on his view or approach to open and transparent working practices with colleagues and supervisors. The Panel noted in this respect that the Registrant was a Team leader, himself, at the time of his misconduct.


45. The Panel also considered that there was insufficient reflection on maintaining professional boundaries and this was another area which he could usefully have discussed with his Line Manager in order to protect himself.  For example, when initially advised of the complaint on 6 August 2015, he could have clarified appropriate strategies which both he and the Council could have employed in order to protect himself and Service User A during the investigation process and going forward. The Panel was not satisfied that he understood the full implications of his professional responsibilities, particularly given his senior position.


46. The Panel was particularly concerned at the Registrant’s apparent lack of appreciation that Service Users have the right to make complaints against Social Workers. There was no reflection by the Registrant which indicated to the Panel that he recognised that Social Workers are not beyond reproach.  Social Workers necessarily deal with many vulnerable people, who must be treated with dignity and respect and allowed the freedom to make a complaint without reproach.  The Registrant should have been able to demonstrate self-control and objectivity in the circumstances of this complaint and recognise that he could trust and submit to a formal investigation, particularly as he was a Team Manager and, to that extent, a role model for professional conduct.  The Panel considered there was insufficient consideration on the part of the Registrant as to how he would or should behave differently if faced with a similar situation.


47. The Panel noted that, within his reflective piece, he blamed work pressures and stresses which he said contributed to his failings, yet there was no reflection upon his ability to practice safely in the future and the strategies he would employ if faced with a similar level of pressure.  The Panel was concerned that he was still very angry about his situation and apparently not at the stage where he could accept an appropriate level of personal responsibility.


48. In conclusion, the Panel considered that the reflective piece did not go as far as it would have expected for a Social Worker in the Registrant’s position of seniority. In particular, it would have expected more sensitivity and understanding of the situation in which Service User A found herself. In the circumstances, given that the Registrant’s remediation and insight is not yet fully developed, there remains a risk of repetition of an inappropriate response should the Registrant be faced with a similarly pressurised situation in the future. Accordingly, the Panel found that the Registrant’s fitness to practice is currently impaired on a personal level.


49. The Panel then went on to consider whether the wider public interest dictated that a finding of impairment was required in this case. The Panel is satisfied that the public interest is engaged. The public is entitled to expect that serious allegations made by vulnerable Service Users will be taken seriously and acted upon immediately, in the best interests of the Service User. The public would be concerned that a Senior Social Worker had reacted in the way the Registrant did and must be confident that complaints will be dealt with in a fair and transparent way. The Registrant’s misconduct was such that it presented a risk to the reputation of the department within which he worked and his profession as a whole. The wider public interest in upholding proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made in these circumstances.
50. Accordingly, the Panel finds that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is also currently impaired in the wider public interest.

Decision on Sanction


51. The Panel considered the submissions made by Mr Orpin-Massey and Mr Short. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

52. The Panel is aware that the purpose of any sanction is not to be punitive, though it may have a punitive effect. The Panel has borne in mind that its primary function at this stage is to protect the public, while reaching a proportionate sanction, taking into account the wider public interest and the interests of the Registrant. The Panel has taken into account the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy [“the ISP”] and applied it to the Registrant’s case on its own facts and circumstances.

53. The starting point for the Panel was that the misconduct was serious. It constituted a number of breaches of fundamental tenets of the profession. Acting appropriately in response to complaints and in the best interests of Service Users are fundamental obligations upon all Social Workers.

54. The Panel identified the following aggravating factors in this case:
• The misconduct was repeated;
• Service User A was particularly vulnerable by virtue of the fact that, at the relevant time,  she had suffered a traumatic and distressing bereavement and decisions about the future care of her children were being made;
• The misconduct caused Service User A to feel threatened and distressed.  Furthermore she perceived that the Registrant may have had some influence over the decisions being made in respect of her children;
• The Registrant’s actions caused damage to the reputation of the Council and the profession;
• The Registrant was a Senior Social Worker at the relevant time and should have employed professional standards commensurate with that position.


55. To balance against those issues, the Panel identified the following mitigating factors:
• The Registrant was of previous good character;
• The failings represented an isolated course of conduct.


56. Nevertheless, the Panel has found that the Registrant continues to present some risk of harm and has damaged the reputation of the profession. In light of all of these matters, the Panel has considered what sanction, if any, should be applied, in ascending order of seriousness.


No Further Action


57. The Panel considered that to take no further action in a case of this nature, would be    insufficient to protect the public and uphold the wider public interest.

Mediation


58. The Panel considered that mediation has no applicability to the nature of the misconduct found proved.


Caution


59. A Caution Order would be insufficient to mark the seriousness of the Panel’s findings. It would offer no restriction on the Registrant’s practice and would therefore be insufficient to protect the public and uphold the wider public interest.


Conditions of Practice


60. The Panel was mindful of the fact that the totality of the failings identified represented an isolated lapse, over a limited period of time in an otherwise unblemished career. The failings identified relate to a specific and discrete area of the Registrant’s responsibilities. In these circumstances, whilst interfering with an investigation into a grave complaint is serious, the Panel concluded that it would be possible to formulate workable and practicable conditions that would adequately address the issues identified and also reflect the wider public interest. The Panel has identified that the Registrant’s failings are capable of being remedied and it is satisfied that allowing the Registrant the opportunity to practice, albeit subject to conditions, will address the risks identified. Beyond the conditions imposed, the Registrant is capable of practising safely and effectively. Furthermore, given that the Registrant has engaged in these proceedings, the Panel is confident that he will comply with any conditions imposed.


61. The Panel is mindful of the potential impact this order may have upon the Registrant.  However, it is satisfied that a Conditions of Practice Order for 12 months is an appropriate and proportionate sanction in these circumstances. This is sufficient time for the Registrant to secure a role as a Social Worker if that is what he wishes and to address the issues identified. The conditions are designed to cover a period when he may obtain work as a Social Worker, but also to address the shortcomings if he does not choose to resume his Social Work career.  Any shorter period would not address the public protection issues raised.


62. The Panel is satisfied that the need to protect the public, and maintain confidence in the profession and the regulatory process, outweighs the impact upon the Registrant of working subject to conditions of practice for a period of 12 months.
Suspension and Striking Off Order


51. In the judgement of the Panel, a Suspension or Striking Off Order would be disproportionate and unduly punitive in the circumstances described. Furthermore, it would deprive the public of a practitioner who is capable of practising without restriction in due course, after a period wherein he is subject to Conditions of Practice, which would be contrary to the wider public interest.


52. Accordingly the Panel determined that a Conditions of Practice Order, was the necessary and proportionate order at this time.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Laurence Andrew D’Annunzio, must comply with the following conditions of practice:


1.    Within 28 Days of obtaining work which requires your registration with the HCPC, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor, registered by the HCPC, and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any change of supervisor.

2.    You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your current employer or take up any other or further employment.

3.    You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.

4.    You must work with your supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the ongoing development of your insight  and understanding into the following areas:

                              i.        The impact of the misconduct upon Service User A and the profession

                             ii.        How you will do things differently in future, with specific focus on your learning from the issues raised in this case and the strategies you have employed to accept the situation and to move forward emotionally and professionally

                            iii.        The importance of professional boundaries, with specific focus on dealing with, and reacting appropriately to, complaints from Service Users

                            iv.        Openness, transparency and collaborative working with professional colleagues.

 

5.    You must allow your supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

 

6.    At least 28 days before any review of this order you must provide to the HCPC a reflective piece covering the areas identified at Condition 5 above. This condition applies whether or not you have secured work as a Social Worker since the imposition of this Order.

 

7.    You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with these conditions. You must send the information required to the offices of the HCPC, marked for the attention of the Director of Fitness to Practice or Head of Case Management.

 

8.    You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:

a.    any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;

b.    any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and

c.    any prospective employer (at the time of your application).

Notes

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Laurence Andrew D'annunzio

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
05/03/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice