Social worker who cared for autistic youngsters struck off for turning up to work drunk

A Moray social worker who worked with young people affected by autism has been struck off after turning up for a shift while intoxicated.

Emma Sim was working at the Waulkmill Project in Elgin when she arrived under the influence of alcohol on September 6 last year.

Ms Sim was reported by one of her co-workers to a senior colleague at the care home at Jamieson Drive and was sent home immediately.

Following a Scottish Social Services (SSSC) hearing, Ms Sim was removed from the register for child care workers.

Ms Sim, who suspended from her post on September 7, decided to resign and has not returned since.

When approached by the Press and Journal in Elgin yesterday, Ms Sim declined to comment on the ruling.

She was charged by the SSSC for breaching her employer’s alcohol and substance misuse policy and putting service users in her care at risk of harm.

The SSSC said in a report: “In presenting herself at work under the influence of alcohol, there was a risk that the registrant was unable to perform her duties to required standards of competence, alertness, vigilance and safety, whilst placing service users, colleagues and others at risk of harm.”

The report went on to explain that merely suspending Ms Sim would have been “inappropriate”, because the lack of acknowledgement of her failings meant that the “behaviour is likely to be repeated.”

The report also raised concerns regarding Ms Sim not expressing any regret or apologising for her behaviour and not co-operating with the SSSC’s investigation.

There was on positive note, however.

The report said that Ms Sim had a “previous good history with her employer and the council.

It concluded that a removal order was the most appropriate sanction to “ensure the continuing trust and confidence in the social service profession”.

The report said that a temporary suspension would be “inappropriate” because there was “no evidence to suggest that the registrant would comply with any condition imposed by the council”.

A spokesman for Ms Sim’s employer, Scottish Autism, said: “We can confirm that a member of staff involved in our Moray service was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol while on duty on September 6, 2013.

“As part of our robust HR procedures, we progressed with the disciplinary process which included reporting the matter to the SSSC.

“A hearing took place on October 11 which the individual in question did not attend. Since then, the SSSC has concluded that the individual is to be struck off their register.

“Given the nature of the work we do with vulnerable people, we view any breach in staff behavioural standards very seriously.”

The notice of removal by the SSSC comes into effect on November 28.