14 Mar 2023
A tribunal has cancelled a nurse’s registration and disqualified him from applying as a health practitioner for a period of 3 years after he engaged in harassment and intimidating behaviours and failed to comply with previously imposed drug screening conditions.
Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article distressing. If you are experiencing distress, please visit the NM Support website or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help.
On 4 October 2019, Mr Daniel Szkup had conditions imposed upon his registration including the commencement of random drug testing, which despite being aware of, he did not comply with.
In the following months, a neighbour (X) of Mr Szkup made allegations against him of stalking, harassment and intimidating behaviour, culminating in his arrest on 16 December 2019. He was convicted of one charge of disturbing the peace and discharged without penalty.
Over that period it was found that Mr Szkup’s conduct included leaving a note on X’s car asking her to dinner with the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network letterhead containing his name, date of birth and Ahpra registration number, continuously calling X and leaving messages, some of which were abusive and intimidating and banging on his ceiling directly below the neighbour’s unit. The neighbour feared for her safety and reported the conduct to police. Mr Szkup received a stalking caution from police.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia referred Mr Szkup to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal).
The Tribunal was satisfied there was a pattern of abusive behaviour and it was not a ‘one off’ or isolated incident and found Mr Szkup behaved in a way that constituted both professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct and ordered that Mr Szkup:
The Tribunal was concerned about Mr Szkup’s lack of insight or remorse and his attack of, and blame shifting to, the victim. The Tribunal was also very critical of Mr Szkup’s behaviour throughout the proceedings, which caused it to have concerns about his fitness to practice and encouraged Mr Szkup to obtain psychological treatment and appropriate assistance to combat his substance use. It also commented that, although a matter for the Board, these health issues will need to be addressed if Mr Szkup wishes to re-apply for registration in the future.
The tribunal’s decision was published on 1 July 2022 and is available on the Austlii website.