Sunday 15 December 2019

Paramedic who stood with his hands in his pockets as man suffered fatal heart attack keeps his job

Carl Cope died outside A&E as Matt Geary and members of the public laughed and took pictures

Matthew Geary (left) and Carl Cope Photo: PA
Matthew Geary (left) and Carl Cope Photo: PA

A paramedic who stood around with his hands in his pockets and did nothing while a patient collapsed and died in front of him outside a hospital has been allowed to keep his job.

Carl Cope, 47, was ignored by ambulance worker Matt Geary, 36, as members of the public laughed and took pictures of him after he slumped to the ground outside an A&E.

Instead, "callous and uncaring" Geary stood with other staff at Walsall Manor Hospital and talked about football while the patient lay dying in front of him.

In February last year, the ambulance worker was spared jail at Wolverhampton Crown Court after he admitted failing to undertake his duty and help the patient.

Now he has been allowed to keep his job despite a Health and Care Professions Council panel finding his ability to practise had been impaired.

Wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue striped tie, Geary grinned as the result was read out to him on Friday.

He was given a special order with 10 conditions, including that he must not work in a vehicle alone until allowed to by his supervisor.

Geary must also inform all future employers that he is under the order and work with his supervisor on a personal development plan.

He told the panel: "I am genuinely sorry that the gentleman passed away.

"But I am the one who ended up with a criminal record and I feel that other people should have been held accountable for their actions as well."

Simon Hoyle, representing disgraced Geary, told the panel that the trial had been unfair and said it was their "chance to shine" if they found his fitness to practice to be unimpaired.

He said: "Mr Geary has been judged until today's hearing on a very limited set of evidence that has been produced to make him look as bad as possible.

"It was a simple case of neglect. Yes it did not look very good. It did not look very good and Mr Geary accepted that.

"The panel have to think what benefit there will be to keep Mr Geary out of practice any longer.

"At the moment he is a bit of a hot potato. Nobody wants to associate with him.

 "He wants this out the way, he wants to move on with his life.

"Mr Geary did not show any premeditation, it is not a repeat offence and he has assured the panel this sort of thing will not happen again.

"He has not been suspended by the council since this incident, he has not been suspended since his conviction and he has practised in that time.

"He is well thought of, he is still competent. If you remove Mr Geary from practice it will do nobody any good."

Announcing the decision, Ian Hughes, panel chairman, said: "The grounds of the conviction is found and your fitness to practice is impaired.

"The panel has seen the CCTV recordings by various camera in the hospital car park.

"The registrant told the panel that at the time he considered he had taken appropriate and proportional action but on reflection he should have acted differently.

"He should not have relied on his observations.

"He should not have left the patient on the ground in the road way and should have requested assistance from colleagues nearby.

"In his testament, the registrant stressed how many other professionals had been involved that day.

"The CCTV evidence clearly showed that at the time when the patient had need the registrant's skills he had not taken the appropriate or immediate action.

"When giving evidence, he was focusing on the impact this incident had on him more than the impact this had on the patient.

"The registrant had tried to draw attention to the role and culpability of others who could have helped this patient.

"We noted and accepted the judge's sentencing remarks that the registrant's actions did not directly contribute to the patient's death."

A court heard previously how Geary stood over Mr Cope with his hands in his pockets for two minutes before telling security to deal with the situation.

When security staff arrived five minutes later Mr Cope had died from a heart attack.

Geary, from Great Wyrley, West Mids., was convicted of failing to undertake his duty and was handed an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 240 hours community service.

Sentencing him at the time, Judge John Warner described him as "callous and uncaring".

He added. "Your behaviour was callous and uncaring, and totally at odds with your job.

"If there was any causal link between the death and your actions you would be facing a manslaughter charge and a definite custodial sentence.

"This is a truly lamentable case before the court."

Geary resigned from West Midlands Ambulance Service but continues to work as a paramedic at sporting events.

He even insisted that he felt no guilt because colleagues did not help Mr Cope either.

Geary was one of five ambulance and hospital staff arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with Mr Cope's death in December 2012.

But detectives were unable to proceed with the charges as there was a chance Mr Cope may not have survived his heart attack due to his longstanding heart complications.

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