Case law updates

Claim for wrongful dismissal succeeds following serious flaws in the disciplinary process

The East of England Ambulance Service has been required to pay compensation of nearly £50k to a former paramedic after wrongfully dismissing him for assault allegations. Peter Edwards, who worked as a senior paramedic, was dismissed in February 2022. 

During an incident while securing a 14-year-old patient to a trolley to take him to West Suffolk Hospital, Edwards was hit in the face by the patient, who had reportedly consumed excess alcohol. The claimant’s “instantaneous reflex reaction” was to protect himself from further harm. 

Following the incident, the paramedic was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct for physically assaulting a patient. However the Tribunal found a number of failings in the way the ambulance service handled the allegations. 

The witness evidence was found to  have been inconsistent and the employer “did not take any reasonable steps to consider the totality of his evidence and weigh up his credibility as a witness.”  The appeal was also mishandled, as Edwards was given just ten 10 minutes notice that the  colleague who was cited as the witness would be there. The tribunal labelled this an “obvious unfairness”. 

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said they will not appeal the outcome of the tribunal: “We respect the outcome of the employment tribunal which was not in agreement with our decision to dismiss the now ex-employee….The safety of our patients is a top priority for the trust and every allegation against a staff member around professional conduct with patients is investigated thoroughly.”