Police have launched a criminal investigation into a “fake” paramedic who responded to 999 calls and treated patients without being qualified.
The trainee emergency worker at London Ambulance Service (LAS) is said to have “gone rogue” after failing his exams. He was dispatched to urgent calls and discharged some patients rather than referring them to hospital, the Evening Standard reported.
The 21-year-old was sacked and reported to the Metropolitan Police in July after his “unauthorised actions” came to light.
Ambulance chiefs have since attempted to contact the patients involved – believed to number more than 100 – to inform them of potential safety breaches. None are thought to have come to any harm as a result of the rogue medic’s actions.
Scotland Yard confirmed it had arrested a man in Hornchurch, northeast London, in September.
He was held on suspicion of fraud, theft by employee, dangerous driving, driving otherwise in accordance of licence, and driving without insurance.
The suspect was also questioned over possible assault and burglary offences, which relate to potential unlawful physical contact with patients and entering homes under false pretences.
He was taken into custody at a south London police station and released under investigation.
A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service NHS Trust told The Independent: “We take our responsibilities to patients extremely seriously. As soon as we became aware of the activities of this individual, we initiated a full internal investigation, informed the police and contacted patients affected. The individual’s employment with us was also immediately ended.
“Following our investigation, we have improved, and will continue to improve, our security, systems and processes.”
The trust declined to say how the trainee came to be dispatched to 999 calls, but the spokeswoman said: “Changes designed to eliminate the possibility of anyone with internal knowledge of our computerised systems being able to misuse them in this way have already been implemented.”
The man was sent on some calls alone but travelled with a trained paramedic in most cases, according to LAS.
The Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced two-day inspection of the ambulance service last week after being notified of the case. It will publish its findings at a later date.
A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement, which oversees trusts, said: “London Ambulance Service NHS Trust reported this incident to us immediately and acted quickly to identify and support the affected patients. The police were informed and the staff member concerned no longer works for the trust.
“NHS Improvement has supported LAS during its investigation and we continue to do so as the trust ensures lessons are learnt to prevent this from happening again.”
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