A GREENOCK care worker caught drinking while on duty looking after people with learning disabilities has been handed a 12-month warning.

Michelle Barnes was found guilty of misconduct by the Scottish Social Services Council following a four-day hearing.

The report listed her current or most recent town of employment as Greenock, but the SSSC has refused to reveal where the misconduct took place.

The report to the panel said that her actions on April 11 2018, while working for Hansel Alliance, put service users at risk of harm.

It was reported that a colleague and assistant service manager both believed that Ms Barnes was acting out of character and 'unusually giggly'.

The report said Barnes' colleague confided to the manager that she was worried she'd been drinking and had taken a client to see the doctor in town.

The assistant manager, concerned about the allegations, looked into a sleepover room and found a cup of Irn Bru above the sink.

When he sipped the drink there was a strong taste of vodka which burned his throat.

When Ms Barnes returned he asked her if she had been drinking and Ms Barnes denied it.

She said she had taken co-codamol for pain relied for bad toothache and found relief in brushing teeth with Sensodyne toothpaste.

During the meeting she confirmed that the cup belonged to her and was then suspended further investigation.

The assistant service manager then searched the sleepover room.

The report stated: "He looked in the TV box and took the polystyrene off.

"Underneath was a litre bottle of Smirnoff vodka."

It was discovered that 25 per cent of the bottle was missing.

The panel found that Barnes conduct in 'consuming alcohol could put service users at risk of harm' and that she was not in full control of her actions.

They added: "It was a deliberate act and you would have known that by consuming alcohol it would impair your judgement.

"[The client] would not able to communicate with the doctor and you were responsible for his wellbeing.

"It was submitted that there was a real risk of harm being caused."

Although Ms Barnes was dismissed she continued to deny the allegations and the panel say she has failed to show any insight into her behaviour.

She has not worked in a similar setting since and the panel deemed that as it was an isolated incident the overall risk of a repeat was low.

The panel found that consuming alcohol whilst on duty and whilst caring for vulnerable adults was misconduct in that she placed vulnerable adults at risk of harm.

A spokeswoman for Hansel Alliance said: "Ms Barnes has not been employed by Hansel since August 2018 following an internal investigation which was reported by us to the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

"We welcome the recent decision of the SSSC to apply a warning in this instance and would like to reassure our customers and their families that Hansel treat any misconduct seriously and work swiftly to resolve any issues.

"We are committed to people and the dignity, safety and wellbeing of our customers and team members is our absolute priority. We are a values led organisation and we strive to ensure that the people we work for receive respectful care and quality service at all times."