Ambulance service manager suspended

A senior ambulance service manager who modified a health trust car to go on a booze cruise to France was suspended for a year yesteryday and his colleague given an official warning.

A senior ambulance service manager who modified a health trust car to go on a booze cruise to France was suspended for a year yesteryday and his colleague given an official warning.

Richard Lane and Paul Leaman had the Essex Ambulance Service crests removed from a people carrier and the back seats taken out to fit in more alcohol.

They then charged the cost of the changes back to the health trust.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) heard that the insurance on the vehicle would have been invalid for the trip to France in 2001.

Lane and Leaman also gave business to Alliance Trading instead of sticking to competitive tender processes and pressured other staff to do the same.

The pair admitted the facts of the charges but denied that their fitness to practise was impaired.

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The HPC Conduct and Competence Committee panel chaired by Gordon Sutehall found they had breached standards relating to personal conduct, professionalism, behaving with honesty and making sure their behaviour would not damage their profession's reputation.

The panel found that Leaman, now seconded to West Midlands Ambulance Service, was more deeply embroiled in colluding with Alliance Trading, which was run by his friend.

The panel was "troubled' by the changing accounts of events submitted by Leaman, who was director of operations at Essex Ambulance Services NHS Trust at the time.

It will review his suspension before it runs out, and said there will need to be " evidence'' that he has accepted the gravity of his misconduct.

Mr Lane, who was assistant director of human resources, was given a caution which will remain on his record for five years.