Locum social worker who smelt of alcohol at work is struck off

Locum was also convicted of drink driving and did not disclose conviction to the HCPC

Published on 9th July 2019

A locum social worker has been struck off the Health and Care Professions Council register after she smelt of alcohol at work.

Mrs Sigrun Legemah was suspended for 12 months in July 2018 after a final hearing found that she smelt of alcohol at work on three separate occasions and also smelt of alcohol when she met Young Person A. In that meeting, she breached confidentiality by sharing information about Young Person A during the meeting and her manner was rude and/or unprofessional.

At the meeting, Young Person A became angry with Mrs Legemah, who was employed as a locum Social Worker with Surrey County Council between 8 December 2015 and 15 February 2016, and asked in forthright terms why the Registrant had to be present. Mrs Legemah replied, stating words along the lines of, “If you weren’t coming home with love bites on your neck and weren’t being told what to wear we wouldn’t have to be here.”

Furthermore, she was convicted of driving a motor vehicle on a road after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your blood exceeded the prescribed limit on 24 February 2014 at East Berkshire Magistrates’ Court. In November 2014 she did not disclose her conviction to the HCPC.

The final hearing panel found that in relation to Mrs Legemah's actions, the dishonesty was serious, she showed no insight into her dishonesty in the explanation she gave to her regulator for her failure to disclose her criminal conviction, she has shown little insight into very important aspects of her misconduct, namely her breach of confidentiality and rude and unprofessional manner during the visit that took place on 12 February 2016 and there is a risk of repetition of her dishonesty and of those other acts into which no insight has been shown.

However, they took into account that Mrs Legemah had no previous adverse fitness to practise findings against her, she had accepted the allegation, she took positive steps in 2016 to address her alcohol misuse and when she smelt of alcohol at work, those three occasions were within a short period of time.

The final hearing panel suspended Mrs Legemah for 12 months to enable her the opportunity to remediate her misconduct and maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold standards of proper professional conduct in relation to what was serious misconduct and a criminal conviction of some gravity.

Last week, the suspension was reviewed but there were no submissions from Mrs Legemah before the panel.

The reviewing panel noted that while the original panel found that Mrs Legemah had shown some insight into the aspects of her misconduct relating to alcohol use, as well as taken some positive steps to address it in 2016, she had, by the time of the final hearing, demonstrated no insight into her misconduct insofar as it concerned the wrongful disclosure of confidential information, her rude and unprofessional manner as found by the Panel, or her dishonesty.

"There has been no evidence before today’s panel from the Registrant demonstrating the level of her insight. Further, there is a lack of any evidence that she has taken any steps to address the misconduct, or her misuse of alcohol, or of any evidence about steps taken by her to maintain her professional skills and knowledge since the substantive hearing," said the panel.

"This absence of such evidence is despite the Registrant having had almost 12 months to consider her position, to reflect on what occurred, to engage with the regulatory process, and to demonstrate evidence of remedial steps. Taking into account the lapse of time since the substantive hearing, the Panel concluded that a real risk of repetition remains in respect of the misconduct," the panel added.

The panel was of the view that in light of the concerns which have not been addressed, and the consequent risk to patient safety, it was satisfied that a fully informed and fair minded member of the public would be gravely concerned if Mrs Legemah was returned to unrestricted practice. The Panel was therefore satisfied that the need to maintain public confidence in the profession and to uphold proper standards, would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the particular circumstances.

The Panel therefore found that her fitness to practise remains impaired.
The Panel took into account the continuing lack of engagement during the period of suspension over the last year, the lack of any indication from Mrs Legemah that she wishes to return to the profession, the lack of any evidence of insight in the intervening period or resolution of the concerns found proved, as well as the ongoing significant risk of repetition of misconduct and therefore ongoing risk to service users.

"The Registrant is either unable or unwilling to resolve the concerns. All of these factors led the Panel to decide that Striking off is the only way in which the public can be protected, and which can uphold the wider public interest,2 the panel concluded.

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