Paramedic 'too tired' for 999 call suspended
A paramedic who refused to answer a 999 call to help a woman believed to be pregnant because he was near the end of his shift has been suspended for 12 months.
Edmund Daly was given the punishment for refusing to go to the aid of the 43-year-old, who was vomiting and feeling dizzy, saying it was "dangerous" to respond to the early-morning emergency because his crew were "very tired".
The experienced paramedic had worked for more than 11 hours without a break and he wanted to "finish his shift on time", a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) hearing was told this week.
The HCPC panel chairman Julian Weinberg said today that Daly, a London Ambulance Service team leader at the time of the 2013 incident, was being suspended from its register for misconduct that "seriously undermines public confidence in the profession".
Mr Weinberg said: "As a paramedic and as a team leader, he failed to make service users his main concern. (Daly) has also not demonstrated any remorse for his actions and such misconduct seriously undermines public confidence in the profession.
"However, the panel has taken into account that this was an isolated incident in the registrant's 30-year unblemished history of service as a paramedic and that it occurred after an 11-hour shift without a rest break."
The hearing was told that Daly's actions on May 29, 2013 resulted in the woman waiting for about 90 minutes before she was taken to hospital. He and his crew had been asked at 5.25am to answer an emergency call for the woman in Kingston, south west London, who was vomiting, dizzy and thought to be suffering complications from a pregnancy.
Presenting officer Simon Walters told the hearing: "During the conversation at 5.25 the registrant questioned the emergency call being allocated (to his crew) and explained that in his opinion they could not do the call because there wasn't enough time to attend the patient and finish their shift on time.
"In particular Mr Daly made reference to the fact they had not had a break during their shift.
"Despite reminding Mr Daly that there was a patient at the other end of the line he continued to refuse.
"As a result of Mr Daly's actions the emergency vehicle, which has only one purpose, which is of course to serve the public who are in need, was taken out of service by the registrant and made unavailable."
Daly's ambulance controller told the hearing she was "disappointed" at his behaviour, saying it was a "bonus" for paramedics to finish their shifts on time and they were expected to work late when necessary.
Giving evidence, Patricia Smith said: "The crews all know getting off on time is a bonus.
"If it happens it happens, and if an emergency call comes in it's a late shift. It is not a guaranteed nine to five job."
Daly, who did not attend the hearing, had faced one count of misconduct.
In a written statement he asked the panel to consider health problems as a mitigating factor, as well as an incident involving a call to a fire in 2009 that had a "profound" effect on him.