A paramedic who stood by with his hands in his pockets as a man died in front of him in a hospital car park was allowed to keep his job.
Matt Geary, 36, looked on from his ambulance as Carl Cope, 47, a patient he had brought to Walsall Manor Hospital, suddenly collapsed in a heap outside the entrance.
Geary, who stood over the man for several minutes as he lay dying from a long standing heart condition, avoided being struck off by a Health and Care Professions Council fitness to practise panel.
He was given a special order with ten conditions, including that he must not work in a vehicle alone until his supervisor allows him to do so or until three months from the date the order was made.
Geary must also work with his supervisor on a personal development plan, and inform all future employers that he is under the order.
Wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue striped tie, Geary smiled as the result was read out to him.
He was spared jail in February last year Wolverhampton Crown Court after admitting failing to undertake his duty and help the patient.
Giving him an eight-month suspended sentence, Judge John Warner told him that his actions were ‘callous and uncaring’.
‘He had formed a view not to waste his time on him once he got him into A&E,’ the judge said.
‘You did nothing at all to help as a paramedic, or as a human being.’
After handing Mr Cope over to nurses, Geary was later seen chatting about football while the stricken man is slumped next to a bin outside.
CCTV shown to the court saw Mr Cope earlier in the hospital waiting room struggling to make himself comfortable and ‘clearly in pain’.
He then went to a nearby shop to get a drink and on his way back collapsed twice outside the hospital doors in full view of Geary, who was sat in his ambulance.
Geary watched for 30 seconds before leaving his ambulance.
He resigned from West Midlands Ambulance Service following a disciplinary but has continued to practice since the incident despite the subsequent criminal investigation.
Simon Hoyle, representing Geary, told the hearing the trial had been unfair.
He told the panel that this was their ‘chance to shine’ if they were to find Geary’s fitness to practice to be unimpaired.
‘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. There are more people involved than Mr Geary, there is more to this story.’
He also attacked the way the criminal case was handled, and later spent more than half an hour reading tens of previous cases heard by the HCPC and other health-related councils over the past year.
‘We have been through a large number of this last year’s cases where there has been criminal conduct which would be wholly damaging to the profession,’ Mr Hoyle added.
‘However there are people who have been permitted to practice.
‘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.
But the panel disagreed, claiming the paramedic’s ability to practice remained impaired as he only accepted responsibility on a ‘limited basis’.
Summing up, panel chair Ian Hughes 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.’
Despite noting the seriousness of the conviction as ‘so great’ in terms of public perception, he also added: ‘The person who appears before the panel is a changed man.
‘The registrant has fully accepted he had not taken the appropriate level of assessment and should not have left the patient on his own.
‘The panel has accepted the registrant’s remorse and regret of what happened.’
Geary was among five ambulance and hospital staff arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with Mr Cope’s death in December 2012.
However, detectives were unable to proceed with the manslaughter charges as there was a chance Mr Cope may not have survived his heart attack.
Speaking after the court case, Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, who led the two-year investigation into Mr Cope’s death, said: ‘We had seen the CCTV footage of Carl collapsing and listened to his 999 call.
‘Carl had been treated very poorly and we were determined the circumstances surrounding his death were not simply swept under the carpet.
‘We couldn’t move forward with a manslaughter prosecution so we began to investigate what other offences may have been committed.
‘Three people − Geary, another ambulance worker and a nurse − who were no longer working in their jobs as a result of the initial investigation, were then charged with failing to discharge their duties in taking care of the health and safety of Carl Cope.’
Geary, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire, admitted the charge against him in December 2014.