Patient dies after ambulance driver clocks off

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The Independent Online

An emergency patient died after an ambulance driver diverted to the depot instead of going to hospital — because he had over-run his shift.

The driver complained to a colleague that he was 15 minutes past the end of his duty and wanted to clock off. The News of the World reported that he got out of the ambulance without even telling his replacement there was a critically sick case being tended by another medic in the back.

The new driver headed to the hospital as quickly as he could — but the detour had added half a mile to the journey.

The patient, who had suffered a stroke, deteriorated during the drive and died of a suspected heart attack soon after arriving at A&E.

The patient was named as 69-year-old Ali Asghar, a father of four, from Stockton on Tees, Cleveland.

Mr Asghar's youngest son, Mohammed (33) said he was not aware of the delay in the ambulance arriving at hospital but told the Daily Mail: “If that has happened it shouldn't have.

“If you have a patient in an ambulance you don't worry about your b***** shift finishing.

“The driver should not get away with it. He should have to pay for it. He is responsible for the death.

“The time he took to detour could have saved my father's life.”

The driver, a paramedic, and the medic who was in the back, an advanced technician, have since been suspended as health chiefs investigate the delay. Ambulance controllers took a call about the patient, who lived just three miles from North Tees Hospital in Stockton, Teesside, at 3.52pm on May 18.

The crew were alerted to a Category A life-threatening incident and arrived at his home at 3.57pm.

After assessing the 69-year-old man they left for the hospital at 4.13pm — for a journey taking around 10 minutes.

Instead the driver headed to his depot where he got out, leaving the patient in the back of the ambulance with the technician until the new driver took the wheel.

The vehicle then left the depot and arrived at the hospital at 4.27pm. As soon as the patient got to A&E doctors administered CPR but were unable to save him. The delay was reported by the new driver who was just starting his shift.

A spokesman for North East Ambulance Service said: “This incident was immediately reported to us by another member of staff and as soon as we were notified we acted to suspend a paramedic and an advanced technician from duty.”

Taken from the Belfast Telegraph