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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49806
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Hi. I am a patient transport driver in the south of England.

Customer Question

Hi. I am a patient transport driver in the south of England. I have been doing this for 8 years, and I have an unblemished record. On the 23/12/14 I had a frail old lady in my van it was 6.50 in the morning.i went to pick up an elderly gentleman who wasn't ready. I have picked him up twice and another time paramedics were there. He wasn't ready and I knocked on. His wife and carer asked me to come in and help get him off the bed. When I went into his bedroom he was distant but dressed and sitting up. He said "hello".His wife said he had low blood pressure. I asked her if she considered ringing 999. She said "NO" because she said she didn't want her and her husband waiting in [email protected] for hours. So she beckoned her husband to his feet and he started to walk with a rollerlator towards his wheelchair outside.. When he got into his hallway he started to collapse.. His wife was trying to prop him up, but I said NO he has low blood pressure so I managed to get him on the floor into a recovery position. I asked her to then ring 999..she agreed. I checked the patient he was breathing and blinking. I fetched a pillow for patient. The patient said I know how busy you get ,we will be ok..I asked her if she was sure ,she said YES. I told her to ring an ambulance straight away ,she said yes. I had a duty of care towards my other elderly patient in a cold I left..I aborted the appointment on my PDA.. And decided to ring my manager about the patient when I got to hospital...I was running very late..Obviously if the patient was on his own I would never had left him, but he was with his wife and carer and went with her wishes..When I arrived at hospital (very late as was ringing my manager I heard the patient had died. Obviously I was distraught, and by the end of the morning I had made two statements and was part suspended. I know I should have overuled his wife's wishes , but I didn't. We have limited training..a refresher every three years..and thats how to resuscitate, he was breathing...but my company are investigating my case.They are also seeing whether it was gross misconduct...I could lose my job..its very worrying..please help
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What would you like to know about this ?

JACUSTOMER-124wky8g- :

have you read my statement

JACUSTOMER-124wky8g- :

This is extremely worrying to me.. It is a high priority to know where i stand and what i can do to resolve this ASAP.

JACUSTOMER-124wky8g- :

I cannot access your answer..

JACUSTOMER-124wky8g- :

your not much use offline I need help ASAP..its cost me enough!!!! pleas send me your advise through my Email *****@******.*** or my landline 02392 425689 ty

Ben Jones :

Hi, the first thing to note is that being placed on suspension is not an automatic assumption of guilt and does not amount to disciplinary action. It is there to be used as a precautionary measure whilst an employer investigates any allegations against the employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct, breakdown of relationship, risk to an employer's property, their clients or other employees, to preserve evidence or ensure it is not tampered with, avoid potential witnesses being pressured or intimidated, etc.

During the period of suspension the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee. If the investigation gathers enough evidence to justify the taking disciplinary action that could be the next step. In that case the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations against them and be given the opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should terminate the suspension immediately and allow the employee to return to work as normal.

In terms of disciplinary action, alleged misconduct is a common reason for taking disciplinary action against an employee. It could be due either to a single serious act of misconduct or a series of less serious acts over a period of time.

In order to justify that disciplinary action on grounds of misconduct was fair, the law requires that the employer:

  • Conducts a reasonable investigation;

  • Follows a fair disciplinary procedure; and

  • Shows they had reasonable grounds to believe the employee was guilty.

In addition, the employer is expected to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Altogether, it means that a disciplinary procedure should be conducted as follows:

1. Investigation - a reasonable investigation is needed. What is reasonable depends entirely on the circumstances and especially the nature and seriousness of the allegations. The more serious these are, the more detailed the investigation needs to be.

2. Disciplinary hearing - if the investigation provides sufficient evidence of misconduct, the employee may be invited to attend a formal disciplinary hearing. They must be given prior notice of the hearing, including details of the allegations, allowing them time to prepare. They have the legal right to be accompanied at the hearing but only by a trade union representative or a colleague.

3. Decision and penalty - following the disciplinary, if the employer holds a genuine belief that the employee was guilty, then they can go ahead and formally sanction them. When deciding on the appropriate penalty, the employer should consider the nature and seriousness of the offence and the employee's disciplinary record. Unless the offence was one of gross misconduct, ACAS recommends that the employee should be issued with a written warning.

In summary, an employer is not expected to prove that the alleged misconduct had definitely occurred. Disciplinary action will be fair if the employer can show that it had conducted a reasonable investigation, followed a fair procedure and held a genuine belief that the employee was guilty. Finally, it must show that the penalty was a reasonable action to take in the circumstances and one that a reasonable employer would have taken.

In your specific circumstances your defence can include factors like you not having taken full responsibility over the care of the person yet, for example they were not in your care at the time, they were still at home. They had capacity and were still with someone else. You are not a trained paramedic or nurse. However, at the same time you probably should have called an ambulance before you left and possibly called your manager to see what the best thing to do is. There are arguments for both camps but the above principles are what the law would consider.

If there are any doubts about any of the above and there is belief or evidence that the employer has not satisfied these requirements, an appeal can be submitted to the employer immediately after the disciplinary outcome. If the disciplinary results in dismissal then a claim for unfair dismissal can be made in the employment tribunal. There are two requirements to claim: the employee must have at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer and the claim must be made within 3 months of the date of dismissal.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

JACUSTOMER-124wky8g- :

I thought I was doing what was right at the time . I have never dealt with anything like this at all. A first aid refresher once a year seems inadequate for all the potential scenarios we could face. I left him in a recovery position but the wife insisted I left because she knew I was running late. Its difficult to go against a familys old lady in a cold car, our controllers dont open to 7AM. but yes a manager is on call. But for this family calling 999 was nothing new to them. So I was under the illusion that this was the norm to them.Like you say when does a patient become my responsibility??? He was still in his own property with his wife telling me it was all fine and all under control so just go !!!...does my previous good character hold me in good stead or am I going to be sacked for a decision I thought was right at the time. My manager made me late leaving the depot.

Ben Jones :

Your clean record and long service will certainly work in your favour and in the circumstances your employer could only really dismiss you if you were found guilty of gross misconduct. But this would depend on the actual policies you were bound to follow and also what the employer would consider a reasonable employee in your circumstances would have done There is nothing stopping the employer from dismissing you but then it means you can challenge that decision if necessary. So I cannot promise that you will either keep your job or lose it - only the employer knows that, following the investigation and the disciplinary. You will have to defend yourself as discussed and play it by ear, using the full process available to you, such as the formal appeal and then the tribunal, if it comes to that.

Ben Jones :

Hope this clears up things for you?

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks