A care home nurse who took unprescribed painkillers to work and left a drugs trolley unlocked has been allowed to continue in practice.
Elaine Garden was employed at the Wakefield House nursing home near Cullen when in July of last year she took the drug Tramadol, a strong painkiller that affects the nervous system.
Ms Garden did not attend a conduct and competence committee hearing conducted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) last week, but admitted being “unfit” for a shift at the care home on July 21, 2013.
She also admitted leaving the drugs trolley unlocked and unsupervised on July 29 of the same year. However, allegations that she had arrived at work “smelling of alcohol” were not proven.
Finding that her actions did amount to misconduct, a report published by the NMC acknowledged that Ms Garden had expressed remorse and demonstrated insight into the seriousness of her misconduct.
The 19-page report said that the NMC panel had considered taking no action but decided that would be “wholly inappropriate”, adding: “The nature of the misconduct means that it would not be in the public interest to take no further action.
“To do so would not be sufficient to maintain the standards or public confidence in the profession.”
After considering a higher sanction against Ms Garden would be “neither appropriate nor proportionate” the panel decided to place a caution order on the nurse.
The report said: “In all the circumstances, in the panel’s judgement, a caution order would be the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case to serve as a reminder to Ms Garden, and to alert any employers to this misconduct.
“The panel considers that a caution order would be sufficient to mark the seriousness of Ms Gardens actions, to protect the public and to maintain the public’s confidence in the nursing profession and the regulatory process.
“Further, this will enable Ms Garden to continue with her nursing career which, the panel considers to be in Ms Garden’s and the public’s interest.”
Ms Garden’s contract with the care home operators Craigend Care was terminated following the incidents last year.