Care-row social worker suspended
Monday 14th October 2013, 5:30PM BST.
A social worker for the council that dealt with the Baby P and Victoria Climbie cases has been suspended after failing to give adequate care to two vulnerable youngsters.
Diana Ndiho Gabulayo Onyango did not turn up for scheduled visits to a two-year-old boy who lived in a violent home a nd did not act quickly enough when a 12-year-old girl suffered alleged sexual abuse when she worked for Haringey Council between October 2008 and December 2011.
The Health and Care Professions Council ( HCPC) said she was suspended from their register for one year for “failing to respond appropriately to serious child protection concerns” after a four-day hearing.
A panel heard Onyango did not inform her bosses when she was told the mother of the two-year-old boy (Child A) – who was on a Child Protection Plan – had a large bruise on her arm. She also failed to visit Child A every two weeks, as she was supposed to do.
The social worker delayed informing the police and her managers after she received information the 12-year-old girl (Child B) was suffering alleged sexual abuse.
Haringey Council, which was widely condemned in the wake of the Baby P and Victoria Climbie scandals, only last week apologised after failing to prevent the abuse of a toddler who suffered “extensive injuries” at the hands of his family.
The boy, referred to only as Child T, was twice taken to hospital but returned to his mother and heroin addict stepfather before eventually being taken into care in June 2011 when he was aged four.
At one stage he was found to have more than 50 bruises on his body, while he told a doctor of being hit with a belt and a stick by his stepfather.
The HCPC panel, sitting in Park House in Kennington Lane, London, decided the most appropriate action was to suspend Onyango from the register for 12 months with an Interim Suspension Order in place to cover the appeal period.
Panel Chair Ian Griffiths said: “The panel accepted that the registrant had made progress towards identifying what is required of a competent practitioner and that she believed herself capable of being as she put it ‘more forceful and stronger’ and therefore more able to make the right decisions in difficult circumstances in the future.
“In relation to the matters on which the panel has made a finding of misconduct, however, the panel has continuing concerns.
“The registrant has not been in practice for two years and her renewed strength, energy and confidence had not been tested in the workplace.
“Whilst the registrant stated that she had learnt from this experience and wanted to remain part of the profession, she admitted that she would prefer a calmer environment in which to work and would choose not to return to child protection work.”
The panel heard in mitigation from Onyango about her relative inexperience as a social worker in the UK and about the effect of her health and personal circumstances.
They further heard from Haringey managers about the difficult working environment at the council at the time.
Onyango was present and represented by counsel at the hearing, the HCPC said.