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Paramedic A faced fitness to practise proceedings after refusing to attend a ‘red call’ to a covid patient in cardiac arrest where CPR was in progress with their crew mate in March 2020 on the basis that they had insufficient PPE.
The HCPC, which did not dispute that the paramedic had not been given sufficient PPE, alleged that the crew could, under the policy in force at the time, have attended knowing their PPE was insufficient and unsafe, and that the crew lied about their ability to attend. Both crew members had been dismissed by the Trust in 2020 as a result of the incident, following a catastrophic outcome investigation.
Following a four-day hearing before the HCPC’s Conduct and Competency Committee, the case against Paramedic A and their crewmate Paramedic B, who did not attend, was dismissed with no facts being found proven.
It was established in cross-examination of the HCPC’s witnesses that the incident pre-dated Trust and Government guidance on PPE requirements at Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) including CPR; and that at the time of the incident there were no written policies or protocols nor guidance available to crews, Further, it was established from the Trust’s records that other crews had been stood down from the same incident due to the insufficiency of their PPE, and that on that single shift alone multiple crews had communicated confusion to Control about the level of PPE required.
The Defence also relied upon the HCPC’s own written evidence to the Public Accounts Committee’s Inquiry: Covid-19: Government procurement, and contracts for PPE, in which the HCPC said of paramedics at the time:
“Whether registrants reached out to us about an ongoing or a potential shortage, it was clear that the uncertainty placed a considerable stress on them. Registrants who were facing increased workloads (in sometimes unfamiliar work settings) were concerned for their safety and their ability to give the best care to their service users.
The uncertainty of registrants was compounded by differing positions between Public Health England and the Resus Council about whether CPR was an APG [sic] (and therefore required specific PPE)”
Finding no facts proven, nor dishonesty established, the case against both paramedics was dismissed.
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